Saturday, May 31, 2003

Affirmative action for bloggers?

Jay Solo pointed out an interesting entry at The Truth Laid Bear. Go read the entry and then you can come back here because then rest of this will make sense.

Perhaps it is because I am a conservative but...

I would stop blogging if I thought that the only reason I was getting links and traffic was because of some 'affirmative action' based on my gender.

I blog because I like to write and I love the ability to comment on the world as it goes by – blogging gives me a great creative outlet that I appreciate. I do not blog to achieve from position in the ecosphere (as is evident by my falling position!).

My blog is out there for people to discover or not. I hope they enjoy my writing and link – if they don't so be it! I do not ascribe the position of my blog in the ecosphere to any form of discrimination. That is one of the beautiful things about the blogosphere - it is a pure free market.

Upon occasion my life gets in the way and I won't post for a few days (hence the falling bogsphere position). I do this because as much as I am proud of ‘geographica’…people, it is just a blog!

Friday, May 30, 2003

On Canada

Steven den Beste wrote a great (as usual) piece that is a round up of the post war status of our relationship with friends and enemies. Reading his comments about Canada I was suddenly reminded of an amusing conversation from a decade ago.

I was a student at the London School of Economics in an international program. One evening after going out for dinner I was waiting for a bus with two friends from the program. Igor was from Russia, Dan from Canada, and all American me.

Apropos of nothing Igor suddenly asked, “I never understood – what is the difference between Canada and America?”

This was like putting a quarter into Dan, my Canadian friend. He spoke at length about the cultural, political and historical differences between Canada and America. I just smiled as Dan went on until he took a moment for a breath. Igor turned to me and asked “Is Dan right?”

I responded that while I am sure that Dan is technically correct about what sets Canada apart from America, he missed the real answer to the question. “What’s that?” asked Igor.

I responded, “Canadians like to think that Canada is a different country – and America lets them.”

Cue hysterical laughter from Igor and offended commentary from Dan.

I still stand by that statement. Face it – if Canada were to ever fall further down the den Beste scale from level 1 enemy to level 2 or 3 what would the repercussions be? I think that America might be less willing to let Canada live with the fiction of their uniqueness.

I am reminded of a quote that my friend Grady often uses from the movie A Few Good Men. “I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then question the manner in which I provide it.” Canada owes its peace and prosperity in the last 50 years in no small part to the strength of the American military - whether or not they want to admit that fact.

I hope that in the next Canadian election those who recognize the reality that Canada’s greatest asset is a close relationship with America will prevail. Unfortunately I fear that will not be the case. Perhaps the time will come to pull a bit of the ‘blanket of freedom’ that we provide away from Canada. We have truer allies who might appreciate the warmth of that blanket a bit more.

A modest proposal for France

This afternoon I realized what the biggest problem with France is. It is in the middle of everything.

An acquaintance is planning on spending half the summer studying in London. He will then do the classic Eurail pass thing traveling around Europe. This is the point where the location of France becomes troublesome.

My young friend agrees with me that France is a vile nation that is not deserving of his hard earned American tourist dollars. However, it will be difficult for him to avoid France due to its fairly central location.

Over at Pave France they have a fairly innovative idea to create a luxury parking lot for the British. While I respect their initiative I have an alternate suggestion.

I think now is the time for bold action – let us build the British Skyway!

Let me explain… Mayor (Richard J.) Daley (father of the current mayor) of Chicago was from the Bridgeport neighborhood. Like many Southside Chicagoans he had a summer home in the Indiana/Michigan border area along Lake Michigan. This lovely area of Dunes along southern Lake Michigan is a wonderful retreat for Chicagoans. Unfortunately, between Chicago and the Dunes there is the Cal-sag channel (yuck) and some very unpleasant Iron mills to drive past. The Mayor (cough – king – cough) couldn’t have that - so the Chicago skyway was built. The Skyway is an interstate tollway that was built and is maintained (I believe) by the city of Chicago. Its main purpose is to quickly shuttle Chicagoans above the dirty industrial junction of Illinois, Indiana and Lake Michigan.

What I propose is that a similair “Skyway” be built over the dirty nation of France!

A large bridge can be built that crosses from the UK right over France – Perhaps to Switzerland. This way we will not disturb the French with our dirty American dollars. At the same time we will be able to enjoy our European holidays without having to expose ourselves the nasty pollutants of the French people (almost as bad as Steel Mills). Perhaps we could put a scenic overlook at Paris so tourists could get out and take pictures of the Eiffel tower for those unrepentant Francophiles.

I know that those among you will suggest that perhaps air travel has superceded the need for a giant bridge over France. Perhaps, but imagine the great pleasure that we would all gain from literally driving over France – preferably in a nice big gas guzzling V8 (yes I am an American and it is my right to waste gas). If that does not convince you why not do it for “The Children”. After all, young college students can only afford a Eurail pass, not a bunch of plane tickets to cross over France. As an added bonus… if we locate the giant bridge just right we can blot out the sun over some French vineyards, thusly improving the market for great wines from Australia, the USA, Spain, and Italy!

Where is my luck?

This afternoon I went for a ride in a friends 1967 Ford Mustang. That in itself is not particularly notable except… She just bought it for $3500!!!

To review – a friend bought a 1967 Mustang for $3500. This car is a thing of beauty, with the original turquoise interior and original white paintjob.

My friend knew she wanted a new car and just picked up the local paper to see what was available. She was not planning on buying a classic car but here it is, after all who could pass up a deal like this!

Why is it that when I decide to buy a car I end up with a Ford Contour, but my friend drives up with a 1967 Mustang? Luck, pure and simple.

I have finally come to the conclusion that I have no luck (exhibit 1: I am unemployed and overeducated) whereas my friend with the great new car has tons of luck (exhibit 2: she dropped out of college and makes big bank while never working as far as I can tell).

This leads to my question… Where is my luck?

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Dear Blogspot,

This republishing archives crap is getting old.

As soon as I am gainfully employed I am moving to Moveable Type because this sucks.

Fulfilling my dreams!

MSNBC reports that Democratic presidential candidates are heading further to the left.

I will admit that every once in a while I get a twinge of ‘deja fear’ (the thought that bad things are going to happen all over again). The political climate just seems so much like that of 1991 - a strong Republican president is in office who wins a war but has to deal with the inevitable downswing of the business cycle after a booming decade.

If there was a chance that a strong Democratic candidate would swoop in and claim the center I would be really scared. Luckily the Democrats seem to be fleeing from any chance of a winning strategy.

Just read these choice quotes from Senator Edwards
Edwards continues to weave new issues into his own populist stump speech. He told the EMILY’s List audience, “Our values are the values of the American people. George Bush and the Republicans, they honor wealth.” … Edwards floated the idea of a “workers’ and shareholders’ bill of rights.” He also proposed to “democratize” corporate governance for shareholders. He framed Bush’s policies on executive privilege and civil liberties not as unconstitutional, but — for greater political effect — as elitist: “We got this small group of insiders that are running our country. They’re looking down on all the rest of us. You know, they tell us what they think we need to know when they think we need to know it.”
Ahem… I believe that it has been established that attacking the wealthy is not an effective campaign strategy - mostly because everyone in America has the hope that soon enough they will be the ones who are wealthy in our hearts we are all the elites. If Senator Edwards is willing to go against that truism then more power to him.

There is so much more in the article on MSNBC. Take a moment to read the article and revel in the thought of a Democratic presidential candidate who gains the nomination by attacking the military, prayer and the Boy Scouts as Howard Dean seems to in this speech attacking President Bushes education bill.
It says that every school has to certify there’s constitutionally protected school prayer in your local public school. It says the Boy Scouts have to be able to meet in every school building in this country. It says that the names of rising juniors and seniors go to the higher education establishment and the military. That is law, supported by us as well as the Republicans. If people can’t tell the difference between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, why wouldn’t they vote for the Republican Party? We have got to stop that kind of thing.
Please do stop taking the moderate position, the middle ground that the vast majority of the voters inhabit. I am certain that the Republicans can do something with it.

I dream that the Democratic presidential primary becomes a race to the left and unbelievably it looks like my dreams are coming true. I just hope that I do not wake up to the 1992 election again.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003


Jay Solo just realized that he posts too much. That was clear to me a long time ago (granted I am the type to not post for a week at a time).

That said, I really like his posts and the fact that he can be depended on to supply fun new entrys constantly (he is almost Glenn like in his posting speed).

For that reason I am reminding everyon to go read Jay Solo!

As an added bonus consider giving him a link - he seems to be the competitive type and if he loses the elaborate competition that he has cooked up with another blogger we may lose his Verbosity - that would be a tragedy.

Monday, May 26, 2003

A great way to honor Memorial Day

Kevin over at The Primary Main Objective has reported from the ‘undisclosed middle eastern country’ that there has been a small fire on the base.

I say small because it only burned 3 tents rather than blowing through the whole base. However for the 29 soldiers and 12 Marines who lived in these tents it was a big fire. You can see pictures of the aftermath here, keep in mind that in these tents were all of the posessions that these soldiers and Marines had in the country. Kevin writes
Here's the problem. Asking you to mail them things won't really help because by the time it gets here, all the basics will be replaced. We have AAFES on base, but because "it's a navy base" we don't get a cut of the money that the facility earns. And it's a lot of money. Normally a cut of exchange money gets sent to the MWR fund, where the CO can decide how to spend it, whether it's for BBQ's, sports events/equipment or emergencies like this.
This gives us all a great opportunity to contribute directly to some guys who could really use the assistance.

Kevin has set up a Pay pal tipjar for the guys that he will keep up until Saturday. Take a minute and drop a few dollars in you will be glad you did.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Now, some GOOD news about education!

Instapundit linked today to the great blog by Joanne Jacobs. I scanned down her blog and found this entry. In it Joanne links to a news story about a pledge of $19 million for an organization that is working to educate poor children well.

I was excited by the news that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be funding new Cristo Rey high schools in 12 cities. I volunteered a few years ago on the ‘Viva!’ scholarship fundraiser event committee at the original Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago. While doing this I saw first hand just how wonderful the school and it’s students are.

What sets Cristo Rey apart is the innovative internship program that all of its students participate in. Students job share an entry-level clerical position while in school. The income that the students earn is put towards their tuition. This means that in order to get the state mandated 180 days of schooling in the school year and school day are extended. At the same time these young people learn first hand the rewards of getting up every day and going downtown to work. The school serves a primarily Hispanic neighborhood on the near west side of Chicago and many of the students there are the first in their family to graduate from High School, let alone consider going to college. Cristo Rey offers its students an entry into a world that they have not necessarily considered open to them. A world of white-collar knowledge based work in the loop.

I feel that Cristo Rey does these students a great service by giving them the opportunity to earn their education. The students get a top-notch Jesuit education and value it highly because they paid for it. At the same time students gain critical job skills and preparation for a life of working in the white-collar world – something the Chicago Public Schools are never going to prepare them for.

This system really appeals to the conservative in me. These students are not given the ‘hand out’ of a free education. Instead they are given the ‘hand up’ of an opportunity to earn a great education.

If a Cristo Rey school is opening in your city I highly recommend that you consider volunteering there. Perhaps your company would be interested in hiring some great committed kids for an entry level position! You can find a list of existing and future Cristo Rey schools here.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

I am so proud to be a Midwesterner

When I read about the response of the audience at Rockford College to the farce of a commencement speech that was given by New York Times reporter Chris Hedges I feel very proud to be a Midwesterner.

As I read about what happened I am somewhat surprised at those who say that the audience should have been more ‘respectful’ of Hedges right to speak. As I read it the first amendment says that ‘congress shall pass no law’ abridging freedom of speech. Congress had nothing to do with what happened in Rockford - rather; a group of citizens used their rights of free speech. It seems that the left only knows how to dish it out (see Daniel Pipes speaking at any liberal campus) but doesn’t know how to take it.

The point at which I realized just how happy I am to be from the Midwest was when I read this letter to the editor of the Rockford Register Star
“I have heard that college students generally have been becoming more conservative, and, well, less sophisticated and aware of current events. Living near Harvard and MIT, I don’t get to see these trends. But I guess the dumb, bizarre behavior of Rockford’s graduation class indicates that the ‘Dumb and Dumber’ mentality does indeed exist.”

Bernie Connelly, Somverville, Mass.
Let me get this straight – to be conservative is to be ‘less sophisticated and aware of current events’ what a bigot! I am conservative and hold and advanced degree, I travel the world and consume more news than just about anyone I know. However, according to Bernie the fact that I am conservative trumps everything else and means that I must be a victim of the “Dumb and Dumber” mentality. AAARRRRGGGGHHHHH this drives me CRAZY! This typifies a classic east coast liberal perspective on the Midwest. We Midwesterners must all be yokels and who are ‘dumb’ and ‘less sophisticated’ because we don’t hold the same political perspectives as everyone in Massachusetts. That is why I am so very happy to have been born and raised in the Midwest.

The best blogging I have read on the Hedges speech is at A Frustrated Artist a blog I found through the authors great comments on Little Green Footballs. She found a great entry from the Forums at the Rockford Register Star
"I don’t blame Rockford College President Pribbenow for this very poor choice of speaker; I do blame him for not intervening as this poorly chosen speaker alienated the majority of the audience. From my vantage point next to the stage, I observed a female graduate pleading with him, tears in her eyes, “Make him stop! This is our graduation! My family wants to leave.” Pribbenow acknowledged her with an arrogant glance, and then turned his attention back to the speaker. The graduate was still crying.

No, I don’t blame Pribbenow for siding with the minority; I blame him for making the graduating class and their families choose sides at all, and not showing an ounce of care or regret in the process. I call him a fraud for appealing to “academic freedom” while in the same breath asking dissenters to be silent.

Or how about Assistant Dean of Students Bradley Knotts? I observed him arguing with a visibly upset ex-serviceman who had “served in Afghanistan”. When Mr. Knotts’ reason failed, he put the soldier in his place: “You obviously didn’t go to college, so you wouldn’t understand what’s going on here.” There’s really nothing I need to add here; those arrogant displays of self-righteous pseudo-academia speak for themselves. And I’m left with the image of an “uneducated” marine who showed the restraint to walk away from this insult against him and his country."

Ulf Grasse Rockford College Class of ‘95
I hope that the alumni of Rockford take the time to contact the administration and tell them just how unacceptable this attitude from the administrators is. I can not imagine how ashamed I would be if I were in any way associated with a school that allowed Bradley Knotts to represent it. The stain of being condescending and insulting to a US Marine does not wash off easily.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

When interests collide

This afternoon I was wandering through The Leaky Cauldron to see what the latest news is on the Harry Potter front when I came across this entry. For a second I thought I might have strayed over to Little Green Footballs.
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Denounce your neighbor: The Saudi religious police have launched a Web site where Saudis can anonymously accuse their neighbors of violating religious laws, reported this week. In one post, a man complained that a woman had bewitched him and sent a djinn (a type of genie) to plague him. The Authority for the Promotion of Virtues and Prevention of Vices responded to the post, advising the man to consult the Committee for the Struggle Against Witchcraft.
It is just bizarre to read that in the year 2003 there is a nation which actually has a ‘Committee for the Struggle Against Witchcraft’.

I never would have imagined my interests in Harry Potter and the mid-east would ever collide.

Hey Jay Solo!

I tried to e-mail you but you have blocked all of hotmail. Well fine, I will just have to say it here in my blog.

Thanks for the link.

You are a blogging demon! If you keep up at this rate you are sure to set the record for advancement in the ecosystem.

I bow down to your superior consistent posts. You serve as a great role model for a blogger like myself who upon occasionally forgets about blogging. Thanks for the great blog.

A Special Place in HELL

If you are not handicapped and you park in handicapped spaces Satan himself is reserving you a special corner of HELL.

This is an issue about which I am passionate. I never really cared until it affected someone I care about. Now don’t dare park in a handicapped spot when I am around.

One of my very best friends has Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. There is a lot of medical jargon that I can throw at you about it but in the end it boils down to the fact that she does not walk well and sometimes she needs to use a wheelchair. There have been some very scary times when she was blind and the doctors told her that she would never walk again but she has proven them wrong.

Because of her condition she now has handicapped plates on her car. This means that the state has acknowledged that for the rest of her life her ability to walk is severely impaired. The fact that she gets bonus parking is no compensation for the fact that she is often in pain and has a difficult time getting around. She needs that close parking space to make living life that little bit more livable.

Yesterday my friend and I ran out to the store. As we pulled into the parking lot another car (Toyota) pulled into the last open handicapped spot. This Toyota had neither handicapped plates nor a hangtag indicating that the owner has reason to park in the reserved spaces. I pulled my friends Jeep behind the Toyota and waited for the driver to get out – at which time I asked the driver if she had a hang tag that she just forgot to put up. The driver responded that she did not have a handicapped tag and what did I care? I pointed out that the car I was driving had handicapped plates and therefore she SHOULD move her car based on some sense of morality if not only because it means obeying the law. The driver of the Toyota responded that she would not move her car.

This is when I got angry.

I sat in the Jeep with my friend who is handicapped watching the Toyota driver walk into the store. My friend was unsuccessfully trying to calm me down as my anger grew. I called the local police and asked them to send a car over to ticket the Toyota. This was a moment when I really loved the suburbs – they sent a police car right over. I derived a certain pleasure from watching the officer write a $100 ticket as the driver of the Toyota ran out of the store and tried to stop him.

The saddest part of the whole situation was not the fact that the driver of the Toyota personified the complete collapse of consideration in our culture. The saddest part to me was the fact that my friend who is handicapped is completely accustomed to this lack of consideration. As I got angry and called the police she told me that it happens all the time and you just can’t change ignorant people.

I know my friend is right. My actions will not change the future actions of the idiot Toyota driver. But I am comforted by the fact that I cost the idiot driver $100 and maybe the memory of that $100 ticket will stop her from parking in a handicapped spot again.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

The fates are conspiring against me…

Between Blogsplat issues (I need to move to moveable type) and my crappy dial up connection blogging was impossible for the last couple of days.

A few words about dial up – it sucks!

The worst part is that I have no alternative. Where I live I can neither get a DSL nor a cable modem connection. Regardless of the fact that I live in a modern major metropolitan area I can only access the internet through a 56k modem. To add insult to injury the bad phone lines in my area mean that the fastest connection possible is 44400. Add to this the fact that if there is more than a sprinkling of rain the phone line goes down (SBC sucks) and internet access is marginal at best.

Pity me and forgive my lapses in blogging this weekend. The good news is that I now have a backlog of fun stuff to write about.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Real disasters take longer than 30 minutes.

The Department of Homeland Security (what a stupid name) created a drill called Topoff 2 in order to test responses to a variety of emergencies. The plan was evidently to test how emergency personnel would respond to a WMD attack. There were fictional attacks in both Seattle and Chicago. In the Chicago area there were several planned attacks and a few ‘surprises’.

For you, my loyal blog reading public (all 5 of you) I decided to do a bit of investigative reporting. I went to two locations to get the story... an ER and Midway Airport. From my observations I was not very impressed - everything was way too planned.

The first attack in Chicago was the release of plague into a crowd attending a sports event at the United Center. The actors portraying victims have been hitting local emergency rooms since Sunday. On Wednesday I drove a friend to Loyola hospital for an appointment. While I was waiting for her I wandered down to the ER to see what was happening. As far as I can tell it was all very calm – not at all how I would imagine an actual crowd of plague victims acting. As an added bonus all the plague victims were conveniently wearing yellow shirts with the words “Role Player” emblazoned on the back. I am not a medical professional or an expert in disaster preparation but I think it is likely that real world victims of bio-terrorism don’t come with identifying t-shirts.

The second planned disaster (now that is an oxymoron) was a plane crash at Midway Airport this evening. I took the opportunity to drive down to the Midway neighborhood and see what the crash would look like - after all, it is not every day that there is a planned airplane crash in the area. I was standing at a chain link fence that encircles the airport – I was far away but with my 300mm lens I had a fairly good view. The ‘crash’ was hardly fear inducing, if this is what a plane crash really looks like I will never be scared to fly again. The ‘fire’ was put out in about 10 minutes and within 30 minutes the motorcade with Tom Ridge left the airport – isn’t that how all disasters end?

I am going to choose to believe that the experts in the Department of Homeland Security (what a stupid name) know what they are doing - considering this drill cost $16 million they better. However, what this civilian saw was hardly confidence inspiring.

I took a few pictures at Midway but I have to find a place to host them before I can post them here. Hopefully I will have them up here this afternoon.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Just in case…

According to the BBC a cult in Japan claims that the end of the world will come on May 15, 2003.

The group called Pana Wave believes that Armageddon will come when the 10th planet in the solar system comes close to earth there will be earthquakes and tidal waves destroying life as we know it.

An interesting quirk of this cult is that they also believe that white clothes stop harmful electromagnetic waves. They have evidently wandered Japan blocking roadways and laying down white sheets while they wear entirely white clothes. In order for the media to approach them for interviews they insist that the camera crew be draped in white cloths as well. Perhaps if everyone wore white we could stop the end of the world?

Just in case these people are correct… I hereby claim that I was the first person in the blogosphere to bring attention to these brave forecasters of our impending doom.

In case they are wrong… I am only a blogger after all. What do you expect? The high journalistic standards of the New York Times?

Monopoly Money

One of my favorite things when traveling is foreign money. I like how it is often colorful, some coins are different shapes (Danish coins have holes! I made a necklace out of one) and in many cases different denomination bills are different sizes.

That said… no matter how much I like money elsewhere it always ends up feeling like monopoly money. For me, money means old-fashioned greenbacks, our own ugly money; it seems substantial in part because of that very ugliness.

Because of this I am wary of the new colorized version of the $20 bill. I fear that the next step is different sizes for different denominations. Then I would end up spending my money like Monopoly money right here at home - a sure recipe for disaster.

My only hope is that the rest of America rejects this new bill the same way they have the Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea dollar coins. If not then I am will have to adjust my budget for some reckless spending. Perhaps this is just a ploy to increase Americans spending and encourage the economy to grow?

What Gall

Best of the web today links to a column in the Boston globe that shocked me by the sheer audacity of it’s assertion. The title says it all Thank Clinton for a speedy victory in Iraq.

I am not prepared to rebut this entire piece on a point-by-point basis (much as I would like) but a couple of statements call out to me.

The first paragraph states
While it is understandable that President George W. Bush and his secretary of defense are receiving plaudits for the relatively swift military victory in Iraq, the fact of the matter is that most of the credit for the successful military operation should go to the Clinton administration.
I am willing to be magnanimous in victory and grant that a smidgeon of credit should go to the Clinton administration – after all they did not entirely dismantle all branches of the military and turn the Pentagon into condominiums. But MOST?!?!?! Not by a long shot.

The column ends with this
So if this latest military effort warrants a victory parade for the troops, let's insist that Clinton and his secretaries of defense are invited. They deserve it. And if the Bush administration wants to learn how to rebuild the nation of Iraq, they might ask their predecessors how to go about it.
Perhaps Bush should invite Clinton and his secretaries of defense to a victory parade. Not because they deserve it for their actions while in office but because rather to respect the offices that they once held. As an added bonus it will show the Clinton era what great men and women make up our military along with what wonderful things can be accomplished if we stand up against tyranny.

As to whether the Bush administration should ask Clinton representatives anything about rebuilding the nation of Iraq – I hope that the Clinton camp will not hold their breath. What successful experiences could they point to? Somalia? Haiti? Thanks, but no thanks I think that the Bush administration can come up with a better plan than Clinton ever did it would be difficult to do worse.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Salaam Pax – truth or fiction?

Instapundit linked this afternoon to a great column from the Ottawa Citizen that questions the motives of the blogosphere darling Salaam Pax. 'Salam Pax' plays Americans for fools in Iraq The star of the blog 'Where is Raed?' is part of an anti-Western conspiracy.

I read the article and thought that it was a nice assessment of why we should not take the word of Salaam at face value. After all like everyone else in Iraq he has an agenda – he wants to keep what power and prestige he and his family held under Saddam. His writing makes it clear that his family was in a fairly comfortable position – he lived abroad, had a computer with internet access, and a satellite dish along with a good job this was not the position of the average Iraqi. In none of his writings did Salaam Pax talk of having any fear of the Ba’ath regime instead he talked of family members (never him) who were active in the party or the military.

I look at his recent entries and realize that combined with his pre-war writings the overall effect is that of a petulant teenager who suddenly has to deal with living on his own. He was not particularly happy with the situation under Saddam (in his parents house) but now the reality of living out from under Saddam’s yoke seems just so hard. Of course it is hard compared to being one of the privileged members of the ruling class in a Fascist nation. I am guessing that in post Nazi Germany the ones yelling loudest about the disarray of Allied occupation were those who helped keep order so very well under Hitler.

I will continue to read Salaam Pax but with a rather large rock of salt.

Democrats on the lam

While driving this afternoon I heard on the radio a story about the Democratic legislators in Texas going on the lam from doing their duty for their constituents. My very first thought was – I can not wait to see what Rachel and Kim will have to say.

I really like the way that Kim has re-christened the party as the ‘DemoBrats’. I think that is a perfect secription for a party that is acting not unlike my 4 year old nephew would when nobody else wants to play the game that he chooses.

Rachel covers this story by looking at it through the cold hard lens of reality. She is right – if anyone else in this country were to behave like this they would be FIRED. Lord willing that will happen to these politicians as well and in the next election cycle the citizens of the great state of Texas will vote the bastards out.


I know summer is on the way because I am becoming increasingly impatient when waiting for pop culture releases.

First up is The Matrix Reloaded opening on May 15. I can not wait and plan on seeing this tonight after watching my DVD of The Matrix a few times today to get myself psyched for the experience. Particularly in light of the Hong Kong cinema class that I took in this spring semester I am really ready for some hardcore kung/wire fu combined with thought provoking philosophy. The first Matrix was a great film and I pray that the sequel will live up to the high standards of the original.

The second thing that I am counting down to is the release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. On the night of June 20 I plan on being at a bookstore to pick up my copy at exactly 12am on June 21. I don’t care how dorky it is for a grown woman to be lining up with 10 year olds for a book – I have done it for the last 2 books and in each case I finished the last page before sunrise that morning. If you have not read the Harry Potter books don’t deny yourself the pleasure just because they are ‘kids books’. The books are great, they have wonderful lessons to teach us while at the same time supplying readers with a rollicking adventure story.

One thing that links these two pieces of pop culture is that they both present a world in which there is an evil force that must be stopped to ensure the freedom of good people. In a post 9-11 world I can increasingly identify with the need to fight to protect our freedoms from evil.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

What I am going to do for my summer vacation

Every summer I like to go to Europe for a long weekend or a week. Usually I go to Italy or the UK and every few years I go to France or Germany. This year I am planning on spreading my wings a bit…. I am going to go to Poland!

Poland is a lovely country and has been a staunch ally of America. I know a lot of Polish Americans and think that they will be able to give me some great suggestions of where to go and what to see.

I know that my few tourist dollars will not punish France and Germany (as much as I would like to). My hope is that upon my return I will be able to tell all of my friends and family about what a wonderful place Poland is to visit – encouraging them to go to Poland as well.

In my ideal world this year France has a disastrous tourism season while Poland reaps the benefits of supporting America in Iraq with the best tourist season they have ever experienced.

If you have not yet decided where to go for your summer vacation why not choose Poland?

Recording history as it happens

James at Quidnunc posted an entry about the “Digital Doomsday book” that was commissioned in the UK in 1986. At the time I was created to be a modern version of the Doomsday book.

The original was a comprehensive accounting of England that was commissioned by William the conqueror in 1086 so he would have a clear understanding of what he had so recently gained on the field of battle. You can still read the original as it was written in Latin on vellum. Unfortunately the 1986 version was recorded onto specialized videodisks that are now virtually unreadable. Advantage – pen and paper! Hopefully in 2086 when the UK decides to make a 1000 year anniversary Doomsday book they will have learned their lesson an stick to dependable pen and paper.

This is a pet issue for me. If you look on the upper left of this blog at my list of interests (and potential blog topics) one of them is something called ‘scrapbooking’. Essentially scrapbooking is a process of making a personal archive collecting ephemera and family photos to combine them will text to create your own history. Think of a journal combined with a photo album. For me it serves to give me a home for all the photographs that I take (way to many).

The key in scrapbooking is to use archival materials so that the document you create will stand the test of time. Acid free paper (that won’t yellow and crumble) and actually printed pictures (preferably B&W on fiber paper and selenium toned) these are proven to last for 100 years. That is why I am not yet willing to give up my film camera for digital – I just don’t trust the images to be there in the future if they are only recorded as zeroes and ones. As I say to those who argue with me on this point “Last month I printed pictures off negatives from my parents wedding in 1957. However, I can no longer access any of the papers I wrote in High School and recorded on the old big floppy disks.”. My experience leads me to be conservative when recording images or words for the future.

Today we can still read the letters home that our grandfathers wrote from WWI but will we be able to read the e-mails home from Iraq? For those of you out there who have such precious memories only recorded digitally consider printing them out on acid free paper and putting them in a safe place. Hopefully, someday your grandchildren will find them and appreciate them as much as I do my grandfathers letters.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

My blogchild is growing up so fast

I introduced my friend Grady to the world of blogging. Grady is quite smart, and well read and very conservative. I figured that Grady would enjoy reading the same things as I do. After he read the blogosphere for a couple of weeks he realized that this is the outlet for him. He has started his own blog The Hard Press.

Last night Grady wrote a wonderful entry attacking the idiotic dribble from Margaret Drabble I loathe America, and what it has done to the rest of the world (warning do not read while anything breakable is within reach). I would highly recommend that you take a few minutes to read Grady's whole entry. His writing is great and his experience as an American conservative living in Belfast for the last 8 years has given him a unique insight into the idiocy of the British left.

This is where the jealousy part comes in... His writing is really good and he has already gotten a front-page permalink from Rachel. She knows blogging talent when she sees it and she sees Grady has it in spades - why aren't you reading The Hard Press now?

Grady - if you are reading this... don't let your head swell any more (it is plenty big enough). Everything I wrote is true but no reason for you to get cocky

Slow and steady

I will never be a major force in the blogging world at this rate. I keep wandering away from the internet for days at a time and not adding to my blog.

For the (few) of you who visit regularly I am sorry (again) for the gaps in posting.

I have spent the last week using the darkroom at school because after Sunday i have no darkroom until next year. I really love printing pictures and will miss it over the summer. However, the last week of marathon printing means that I have overdosed on film fix for the next couple of months. Hopefully when I start going through withdrawl symptoms again it won't be to long until I can get into the darkroom again.

Hopefully someday soon I will get around to scanning a couple of images and posting them up on Geographica. I am just not captain technology and therefore have neither scanner norhosting space for my pictures. Hopefully someday soon.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Is there no hope for France?

Every once in a while I think perhaps I am to hard on the French. Luckily whenever I feel some compassion for the French a news story like this one appears – France helped Iraqis escape. Evidently as the coalition was pursuing officials in the government of Saddam Hussein as they fled into Syria. French officials in Syria supplied the Iraqi officials with EU passports. From there the Iraqi fugitives would be free to enter the EU and travel freely.

If this turns out to be true it is yet another example of French perfidy. I am horrified at the fact that France is controlled by a government that would actively support a murderous regime such as that of Saddam Hussein. Every day a new story comes out that puts another nail into the coffin of the French American relationship. With every story that tells of support of the Saddam Regime France further turns it's back on the proud tradition of Lafayette and the ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.

One can only hope that there are French people who understand that these abhorrent actions of their government in supporting a vicious dictator will result in the destruction of France. These few good people can stand up to the entrenched politicians who are destroying a country for their own selfish reasons. Only through good people standing up can France be saved.

I have friends who are French and they are nice enough people – perhaps a bit misguided but nice all the same. I sometimes think that perhaps if each French person could all sit down with a conservative American on a one-to-one basis we could show them the way. In my experience when I speak to French friends on political issues they tend to have never been exposed to a conservative point of view. With an intensive education program of conservative education we can create a nation of French men and women who will be able to stand up to the professional French politicians who have succeeded in making France such a crappy nation.

Another member of the media for whom I have no respect

Rachel has a great rant about the ambushing of responsible gun owners on National Television.

The John Walsh Show invited some women who are legal gun owners on the show to discuss the topic of "Women and Guns".

The gun owning women invited to participate were assured that the show would be about the women’s stories and what led them to choose to exercise their second amendment rights. Both women who are responsible gun owners were repeatedly assured that the show would not be a debate. In reading their stories I can see how that could make for a compelling hour of television. One woman had escaped an extremely abusive marriage and a second woman had been raped by an off duty police officer (so much for depending on the police to see to your safety).

Unfortunately the producers of the John Walsh show evidently did not think that this would be enough for a sweeps program. They choose to bring more guests to the show. One was an anti-gun activist from the Million Mom March and the second was a stereotypically bad gun owner (former gang member, convicted felon).

I have to admit that I saw portions of this show (a side effect of being “between jobs”). It was a completely disturbing experience. I never like to watch attacks on TV and from what I saw the former gang member was dominating the show – attacking the responsible gun owners. The moment that I turned off the TV was when the law breaking gun owner turned on one of the legal gun owners saying something to the effect of “If you have a gun in your house any time you get into a fight you will of course get that gun out and shoot someone”. No opportunity was given for the responsible gun owner to respond without being shouted down.

Let me say right here that I was raised in a house where there were many guns. However, no matter how angry we would get at each other (and believe me we can get angry) it would never cross anyone’s mind to get a gun to solve a dispute. A gun is a tool - it would no more cross my mind to use a gun to solve an argument with my brother than it would for me to use a power drill to solve a fight. It really bothers me that once more gun owners were shown to be out of control lawbreakers.

I have to admit that I rather liked the John Walsh show before this. The show tends to tackle real issues and treat guests with respect. What happened on this episode was the exact opposite. In a cheap ploy for ratings John Walsh and his show have lost my respect.


I can not imagine what is happening here but my blog appears to have been hijacked/hacked.

When viewing my blog I see Arabic writing and references to vulnerabilities and crack sites finally the title of the blog was changed to Snoopy.

I will choose to assume that this is some sort o a blogger bug rather than anything malicious. I simply can not imagine that anyone malicious would care about my sleepy little blog.

The good news is my putting up this post seems to have resolved the issue. Very strange.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

And they let him stay in Hollywood?

I love just about everything that Larry Miller does. He is funny and smart and conservative!

I just read a wonderful column by Larry Miller In Addition to Which, They'll Probably Need New Docents. After an introductory paragraph to warn any weak kneed readers he boldly states
I don't give a rat's crack about what has or hasn't happened to some damn museum in Iraq.

If you read the rest of the column I assure you that you will not be disappointed - enjoy!

***Update*** There is nothing quite like putting a tupid mistake on ones blog and then not checking back for a few days. Thanks to Dan at Behind the Wall of Sleep I have corrected the name of the columnist. It is Larry MILLER not Larry David. Clearly I need to hire an editor.

Great Reading

If you have not been over to read A Small Victory today go there now.

Michele is on a roll. I particularly love her entry titled ride on the peace maze after quoting a news story about peaceful play in the schoolyard Michele observed "We are raising a nation of sissies" and goes from there.

I recently taught my neices and nephew how to play four square. I realized in the process that what the game teaches children how to deal with others and negotiate much more than how to bounce a ball back and forth. Those interpersonal skills are what all playground games teach children. If you think back on your childhood most of the time spent in the playground was fighting about if that was 'liner' or on your side or my side - those small battles taught us all how to deal with each other. Children today will not learn how to negotiate with each other or how to lose an arguement but still go on and win the game.

We are failing to teach our children how to be great adults. As the Duke of Wellington declared "The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton". I doubt that the battles of the future would be won in the "peace maze".

Accounting 101

Charles at Little Green Footballsl inked to a story which will likely not get as much attention as it should Loss Estimates Are Cut on Iraqi Artifacts.

Evidently original reports of thousands of lost artifacts has been revised to a list of 25. Quite a difference.

My favorite part of this story is the fact that the US has put a Marine reservist whi in civilian life is a Manhatten DA in charge of investigating the looting of the museum. Talk about a guy you would not want to cross - a Marine DA. He is quoted as saying "Twenty-five pieces is not the same as 170,000,". Perhaps the Iraqi antiquities experts were using the same accounting system as Enron?