Thursday, June 26, 2003

Continental Drift

On Tuesday I asked a couple of trick questions.

How many continents are there? And what are their names?

Courtney gave the answers that anybody over the age of 18 likely learned in school.
1) North America
2) South America
3) Europe
4) Africa
5) Asia
6) Australia
7) Antarctica
Perhaps I am stuck in an old paradigm but I tend to think of this as the ‘right’ answer.

However, children today (at least according to my nieces social studies textbook) learn that there are only five continents.
1) Americas
2) Oceania
3) Eurasia
4) Africa
5) Antarctica
This list bugs me for a bunch of reasons.

Unsurprisingly, the first one that gets to me is the ‘Americas’. Perhaps this was correct prior to the 1914 completion of the Panama Canal. Even then, geographers were rational enough to know that one 50 mile wide strip of land is enough to unify the two very different continents of North and South America.

Oceania is the name that is now applied to Australia and the surrounding island nations. As a geographer friend once said… “Maybe Fiji was sad that they did not have a continent to claim as their own” and that is why the decision to rename the continent ‘Oceania’. That seems like as good an explanation as any. I learned that there are two distinct places… Australia (the name of both the country and the continent on which it is located) and Oceania (the islands of the south and central Pacific). Was that to rational? Did geographers feel the need to confuse us all?

I can almost understand the use of the term ‘Eurasia’. Europe is more of a subcontinent of Asia than a separate continent but… After millennia of considering them separate continents why change things now? Additionally, if we are going to link all continents that are connected (like the Americas) why not call it EurAfriAsia? After all, until the completion of the Suez Canal there was a clear land link between the continents.

Next time you are asked how many continents there are the best answer is ‘it depends’ because now you know it all depends on how you define a continent… there can be anywhere from four to seven!

Ooohh Fancy!

Yesterday I could not post because my blog was being migrated to the new (theoretically) improved blogger.

I can only hope that this version is less 'feature filled' than the original.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Dear Blogger,

What is up with this stupid bug that means that the last entry on a blogger blog can not be linked?

No matter how many times I republish archives this one never seems to go away.

I now have an offer for hosting space and am very close to screwing my budget and just buying a domain. The only question left is MT or pMachine...


A big welcome to the readers of Right Wing News. I don’t know what I have done to deserve the honor of ‘website of the day’ but I will endeavor to be worthy of it.

In particular I will get off of my Harry Potter kick. I have finished The Order of the Phoenix and will now get back to my other addictions – politics and geography. I figure in 12 months I will again hear the siren song of Harry Potter – when the third movie is going to be released (I am not so bad that I am going to start counting down already).

I will now leave you all with a geography question (I will post answers next time I am online).

How many continents are there? And what are their names?

The answers are not as easy as you think…

Monday, June 23, 2003

Harry Potter explained

Steven at USS Clueless posted a long piece with his response to seeing the film version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone for the first time.

This was his first exposure to the world of Harry Potter as it was for many people. I tend to think that is unfortunate because the books are wonderful - though the movies are very good the books are much better. To be fair very rarely does a film live up to a book in my experience and this one comes very close.

Steven brought up a few specific problems with the movie - I assume that many others whose only exposure to Harry Potter is from the films might have the same questions. I will endeavor to give an explanation for the questions raised by the film. The block quotes below are from Steven’s post about Harry Potter.
The early Cinderella part was excruciating
I would agree but I think that it has to be excruciating. After all there has to be a reason that Harry will so willingly embrace the wizard world and abandon the family that raised him. The book goes in to much more detail about just how horribly Harry was treated by his aunt and her family. The question that has never really been explained (to my satisfaction) is why the Dursleys never just handed Harry over to the state. I imagine that will be explained sometime soon – JK Rowling seems to pick up every loose string.
I had thought there would be a lot more hazing, for instance. I thought Malfoy would be a bigger part.
Malfoy is a slightly bigger part in the books but in the end he is more of an annoyance in Harry’s life. In some ways he is there to show the path not taken by Harry as much as anything. Malfoy joined Slytherin while Harry asked the sorting hat specifically to not put him in Slytherin. As the books go on the relationship between the boys becomes more adversarial. I imagine that the makers of the trailers knew that those who were watching the trailers closely knew about the growing animosity (because several of the books were out). Additionally the real villain is virtually impossible to show in a trailer without totally ruining the film for those who have not read the book… therefore focusing on Malfoy gives them a villain to focus on.
Harry didn't turn out to be what I thought he would be like. In particular, he didn't end up being as much of a nerd as I thought he would be.
Harry is not a nerd – he is friends with a nerd (Hermione) and that is often how he gets needed info. I would say that Harry is fairly average (academically) with exceptional flying skills – that is how he got the seeker position. The key to his success is that exceptional people surround Harry. His two close friends are often keys to his success… Hermione has the book smarts and Ron has the advantage of having grown up in a wizarding family so he knows more about the world within which they are living.
So I was glad to see that their friendship with Hermione developed more slowly, in ways which made sense. The boys met Hermione on the train, but became friend with her later.
This was really well done in the books. I always remember the line after the trio downs the troll (I will paraphrase – I don’t have the book with me) “The three of them looked at each other and a friendship was born. Some things linked you forever - one of those is taking down a troll in the girls bathroom.” I always remember that scene becaue it was the point where I learned that this was not just going to be a couple of boys saving the world.
It was a special pleasure to see John Hurt in the film, as the owner of the magic-wand store. **snip**Hurt's part wasn't a recurring character. Now that Richard Harris has died, why not cast him as Dumbledore?
Hurt was wonderful and I can see why he would seem a natural for the Dumbledore part but…the character that Hurt Played (Olivander) does reoccur later in the series. They may want to use him again for those scenes when they film the later books. The Wizarding world is fairly small so characters often reappear. This is nice because you can really understand the politics of the world as well as saving Rowling the trouble of creating new characters.
I was happy to see that all three kids got a chance to contribute; in particular, it was cool to see Ron play and win the chess game, especially in how he did it. Ron had been comic relief, so it was neat to see him get to be important,
That is one of the great things about the books Rowling has given all the kids strengths and they work together as a team to accomplish their goals. One disappointment for me was how much the filmmakers depended on Ron for comic relief. In the books his character is funny but also has unique skills and abilities that are not highlighted enough in the movies.
If Professor Quirrell was already past that point, then why was the chess board not already littered with rubble?
This is one of those suspension of disbelief moments. Remember that Quirrell is a fully-grown wizard and therefore he has the ability to reset the chessboard and remove the rubble.
So she (Hermione) should actually have accompanied Harry to the last room – except that in plot terms, it had to be Harry alone who confronted Professor Quirrell. He'd been supported by his friends to that point, but as Sarah said in "Labyrinth", I must go on alone. That's how these things are done. So "You stay here and get Ron to safety, I'll go on" was the only real way to make it come out right.
This was the greatest disappointment to me in the translation of the book to film. In the book Hermione and Harry go forward to an additional room. In that room there is a logic puzzle and Hermione solves it because of her very muggleness. As she says “It is simple logic. Most wizards could not solve it because the look down on logic as only for muggles” of course Hermione (as a very bright muggle raised witch) can solve the puzzle. The solution to the puzzle gives them just one dose of a elixir that will get them through the door to the final room (Think Alice in Wonderland ‘drink me’). Harry of course drinks the elixir and Hermione goes back to care for Ron (I don’t remember them saying they are going for help). I really think that it is regrettable that they removed the section where Hermione shines and her muggleness sets her apart.

On the general topic of the kids growing out of their roles… perhaps they will but I really hope not. I love these kids and I think they are really good. However, I can imagine that they may want to take a break and live their lives. If so it will be really hard to find a better team of kids.

One good thing about the team that made the first movies was that Christopher Columbus learned his lesson about how fame can destroy a child’s life the hard way with Macaulay Culkin from Home Alone. Columbus made a point of choosing not just the actors but also their parents to find stable families that will put their children’s best interests first. In all the interviews I have seen all three kids are remarkably well adjusted I think that Columbus will make every effort to keep them that way. In major movies like this it will take a concerted effort by both the family and the friends of the young actors to keep them on the right path.

As is by now completely clear I am a total Harry Potter dork. Usually I get answers to all of my Harry Potter questions at The Leaky Cauldron - a great Harry Potter based blog. Check them out to have all of your questions answered. I will now return to reading The Order of the Phoenix…


I totally forgot that I had entered into the New Weblog Showcase over at The Truth Laid Bear. With the interview for my dream job and the release of Harry Potter it just slipped my mind.

Thanks to the link in my referrer log from Tigers showcase review I was reminded that I need to go through my fellow entries and see who else is in this weeks catch-up showcase. Tiger has given such a wonderful wrap up of all the entries that I am stymied for what to write. Suffice it to say you should all go read all the entries!

I really appreciate the review of my entry and blog by Tiger. I would agree that I am finding my niche in the blogosphere that said, I am not in a rush to find it. Rather, I would prefer to continue to write a blog that reflects my interests at the moment instead of having a specific theme that limits my topics. This doesn’t mean that I won’t write about geography just that it is fun to write about more than that!

Saturday, June 21, 2003

I have it!

I have the new Harry Potter book - and it is wonderful!

I am just writing this while on a brief break from reading. I will be sure to have more posts up as soon as I finish!

Friday, June 20, 2003

Laugh out Loud FUNNY

Tim Blair has linked to the funniest blog ever. It is called Tard Blog and tells the stories of a Special Education teacher.

This stuff is not for the PC or sensitive readers but it is damn funny. In fact I would say that this proves that reality is way funnier than fiction - nobody could make this stuff up.

A friend of mine is a special education teacher and I have volunteered in her classroom. I can not convince people who have not been there what it is like. I imagine that it is a bit like having gone to war - you have words but they do not sufficiently describe reality. The best I have ever found was on this blog. Take the time to read all the archives - they are priceless. My favorite was 'What it's like in Riti's class' a guest contribution from a friend who visited the class this best describes the experiences from a civilian point of view.
I met Riti Sped during a spring break a few years ago. She let me come to her class one time to check out the kids.

They were all terrible. Some loud, some mute, some shat in pants, some pissed, some spit, swore, some wrote things like "Fuck" on the tables, some scribbled over anything. This list of their transgressions is nearly endless. Despite all the entertaining behavior, the funniest thing was how Riti dealt with the tards. I will never forget this incident:

Riti was quizzing the tards on their ABC's with flashcards. She is going from tard to tard, and as she held up a card with a letter on it, they would say what letter it was. She gets to one girl, and the letter is a "T." Riti didn't know it, but the card was upside down.

The tard looked at it and said "What the fuck is that?" This alone makes me explode. But then Riti says "Oh, I am sorry [name of kid] I don't think I said it is time to use bad words." The girl then said "That's a weird fucking letter," to which Riti said something like, "Excuse me [name of girl] if you would like to use bad words, we can do this during our recess time. The rest of us would like to finish up here," and left it like that.

Later on I asked her why she didn't send the girl out. She said something like, "If I send out every kid that swore I would have no kids here to teach."
I repeat - if you are a member of the PC police don't read the Tard Blog. However, if you understand that life in all of it's variety is just damn funny - have fun reading (and don't drink anything while you are - it is dangerous to your keyboard)!
Excising the little Democratic corner of my soul

I was raised in a fairly traditional Irish Catholic Democratic family. It horrifies my Mother when I publicly state that I am a Republican. She maintains that I am the first of my family to ever dishonor the family by voting Republican (though I am certain that my father voted for Reagan).

I will never forget when one of my (VERY Liberal) cousins actually burst into tears when I said out loud “I am a Republican” at a Thanksgiving dinner when I was in college. Another cousin, who is a university poli-sci professor, told me that I was not really a Republican – I was just confused. I was forced to get up from the table and get my membership card for the College Republicans out of my wallet to pass around the table to demonstrate to my horrified relatives the reality of my political affiliation.

I share this background as a semi-explanation for what I have realized was a little Democratic corner of my soul. I have always been fairly proud of what I considered my ‘rational’ views on political issues as a Republican I was opposed to what I viewed as the ‘emotional’ perspective as presented by Democrats. Unfortunately, I was not yet able to completely stamp out my emotional response to the issue of ‘the troubles’ in Northern Ireland. Luckily my friend Grady has moved home to America to educate me on the facts of the issue. Arming me with facts that prepare me to take a rational position on this issue.

My friend Grady over at The Hard Press is an expert on the issue of Northern Ireland compared to me. Grady lived in Belfast for a decade, received a couple of degrees from Queens University and married a lovely girl from N. Ireland (I can’t wait for her to get her visa). In comparison, most of my understanding of the issues comes from family lore and a general understanding that there should be a united Ireland.

I never imagined that I should question this belief – it came down to me as an article of faith. The only history I learned was from the perspective of those who would claim that the British are robbing the Irish of their destiny as a free unified nation. To be perfectly honest I didn’t really care one way or another. When I saw news stories on the situation it seems to be bad all the way around – neither side seems to have the moral high ground. I guess that my position on the issue of the troubles would have been considered tepid support for a unified Ireland. I figured that was the way the island should be arranged politically but I never felt that strongly enough to donate any cash to the IRA (unlike many people I know).

Then September 11 happened. Like many other Americans it caused me to re-assess my position on terrorism. One thing I realized was that this type of issue does not allow any person to sit on the fence. Terrorism is terrorism. I needed to excise the last little Democratic corner of my soul – the part of me that reflexively figured that the IRA was (to use the Reuters term) more ‘freedom fighter’ than terrorist.

Luckily Grady moved back to America and has begun to educate me more on the history of the ‘troubles’ – from both sides. This has been very enlightening to say the least. I do not agree with Grady’s positions on some of the issues at hand but I do agree that the IRA must be stopped.

What amazes me is the fact that even after September 11 there are Americans who continue to support terrorists. On The Hard Press Grady has been writing about Northern Ireland and has received some hate mail for his efforts. I find it telling that the mail he receives is not engaging him on the issues (including the unforgivable use of terrorism by the IRA) but rather consists of personal attacks on Grady and his wife.

After reading Little Green Footballs for the last year and a half I have realized that this is the sign of a deluded member of or sympathizer for a terrorist organization. They are unable to defend their positions with reason and must resort to vitriol. I personally hope that someday a letter will be written to Grady that will discuss the issue using the power of reason. Until then I know one thing for sure – that last little Democratic corner of my soul is gone.

I loved this show!

At this moment I am watching 'V: The Final Battle'.

I will make my geekness clear for the world to see when I admit to the world .... I loved "V"!

It is almost better now 20 years later. The bad special effects, the none to subtle Aliens as communists theme... what's not to love?

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Counter productivity 101

The BBC reports about a McDonalds restaurant in Paris that has been closed for the last 100 days.

The McDonalds was closed by striking workers have occupied the store at this point the owner cannot enter the restaurant. Last year this same McDonalds store was shut down for 115 days by striking workers.

I wonder why the owners went to the trouble to re-open the store after losing one third of the sales year. I have to admit that after 2 years in a row of only 2/3 sales years I would close the store. The strikers could then pay the rent on the location for themselves.

Adding to the complete idiocy of the striking workers they are selling anti-McDonalds t-shirts to support their cause. Do the strikers not understand that encouraging dislike of their employer by the buying public means that the sales (and employee job security) of the restaurant is sure to falter?

A simple solution

It seems like everyone in the blogosphere has commented on the idiocy of both Bill O’Reilly and the Council of Europe.

There is a simple solution to the problem at hand…Send O’Reilly to Europe!

The EU can spend all of it’s time chasing after him to give the right of reply while O’Reilly can live in a peaceful utopia where nobody will ever insult him – for fear of what he would do with his ‘right of reply’.

Ideally, O’Reilly and the EU will keep each other busy leaving the rest of us to enjoy our freedom of speech like the grown ups that we are.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Slam dunk!

I had what was easily the best interview in my life today.

This was only the first interview in the process but I still am really confident after this interview. I should have the second interview in a week and a half. I can't wait!

The good news for the blog is that after the great day I had today I feel the great urge to blog. I have a feeling that tonight will be a multiple post kind of evening.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Wish me luck

Sorry for the slow blogging. I have been spending the last couple of days preparing for an interview for my dream job.

Tomorrow I am going in for a big interview.

This job is PERFECT.

I am a perfect fit for the company and the job is perfect for me.

Very near my home, involves geography, great company… PERFECT!

I am not above asking for positive vibes/prayers from everyone in the blogosphere. As an added bonus when I get a job one of my very first actions will be to transfer this blog to MT like a grown up.

Wish me luck!

Monday, June 16, 2003

I’m just wild about Harry…

… and I am clearly not alone. As of this moment Amazon has taken 680,791 advance orders for "The Order of the Phoenix".

I just called three local Borders bookstores to try to reserve a second copy of the Harry Potter book for a friend.

All three stores told me that they could not guarantee me a copy on Friday night at midnight. They would only give me a guarantee for Monday morning.

This sounded crazy to me and I asked why the stores would not have ordered enough books to make it through the weekend. The clerk explained to me that they had been ‘short shipped’ meaning that the stores received fewer copies of the book than were ordered.

I find it amazing that Scholastic has printed 8 Million copies of this book and still has to short ship. At the least it puts the sales figures for the Hillary Clinton book into perspective.

Perhaps the publisher is trying to create an artificial shortage. However, I see no benefit in that for Scholastic. After three years of waiting there is so much pent-up demand for the next book that there is no doubt this will be the fastest selling book release in history. (If I am wrong, let me know)

The saddest part of this is the fact that I know I am going to get this book at midnight on Friday and then stay up all night reading it. Then at Noon on Saturday, I will start the long wait for book five!

Saturday, June 14, 2003

Happy Flag Day!

June 14 is Flag Day. Take a moment to pledge allegiance and be sure to fly the American flag with pride.

I think that as Americans we have a particular connection to and love of our flag.

One reason for that is that our nation is more an idea than it is anything else. The flag and the constitution are the two physical representations of that idea. Unlike many nations we do not have a long line of monarchy to represent who we are and how we got here. Instead, we have a revolving door of the White house with very different men leading our nation. However, throughout time our flag has flown to represent our nation and its people.

I know that citizens of many other nations have affection for their flag. Heck, Canadians plaster that maple leaf on seemingly everything that they own. On the other hand there are the French. At one time, I shared an office with Dominique – a coworker from France. The flying of American flags astonished her. In conversations, she explained that the French flag was not a big deal. In fact, to the best of her knowledge, her family never even owned a French flag. I could not imagine that!

Here in American there is a unique combination of love of, and reverence for our flag

I had many teachers who taught me to love the flag and what it represents. As a young scout, I learned the rules and regulations and how to treat the flag respectfully. In school every day began with the Pledge. My father made sure that a flag few outside of our house on every day – he would hang it as he left for work in the morning and take it in every evening after dinner.

The American military has many rituals revolving around the flag. You can read about the Navy flag usage and ceremonies here (thanks for the link Liz!).

For me the most moving military flag ceremony is in fact the most mundane – the daily raising and lowering of the flag. I have been on military bases a couple of times when everything stopped and men and women in uniform all around turned and saluted the flag. Because I was raised to understand that the flag is a representation of the nation as a whole as well as the Constitution, I found that the daily reverence for the flag was the best example of the civilian command of military in our country.

I think it is telling that after September 11 many people reflexively started to fly the flag. It was an automatic reaction to the attack on our country. One of the most emblematic pictures of the day was that of the raising of the American flag over the smoldering rubble of the WTC. It was important that the flag be raised because it was a representation of the fact that our nation will rise above the rubble of that attack.

I have two favourite flag quotes (doesn’t everybody?) the first is from Franklin Lanes 1914 Flag Day address.
I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself, the pictured suggestion of that big thing which makes this nation. My stars and my stripes are your dream and your labors. They are bright with cheer, brilliant with courage, firm with faith, because you have made them so out of your heart. For you are the makers of the flag and it is well that you glory in the making.
The second quote is from Henry Ward Beecher
If one asks me the meaning of our flag, I say to him: It means just what Concord and Lexington meant, what Bunker Hill meant. It means the whole glorious Revolutionary War. It means all that the Declaration of Independence meant. It means all that the Constitution of our people, organizing for justice, for liberty and for happiness, meant.

Under this banner rode Washington and his armies. Before it Burgoyne laid down his arms. It waved on the highlands at West Point. When Arnold would have surrendered these valuable fortresses and precious legacies, his night was turned into day and his treachery was driven away by beams of light from this starry banner.

It cheered our army, driven out from around New York, and in their painful pilgrimages through New Jersey. This banner streamed in light over the soldiers' heads at Valley Forge and at Morristown. It crossed the waters rolling with ice at Trenton, and when its stars gleamed in the morning with a victory, a new day of hope dawned on the despondency of this nation.

Our Flag carries American ideas, American history and American feelings. Beginning with the Colonies, and coming down to our time, in its sacred heraldry, in its glorious insignia, it has gathered and stored chiefly this supreme idea: divine right of liberty in man. Every color means liberty; every thread means liberty; every form of star and beam or stripe of light means liberty - not lawlessness, but organized, institutional liberty - liberty through law, and laws for liberty!
Take a moment today to look at the American flag and remember all that it stands for. Brave men and women have sacrificed a great deal for the ideals that the flag represent – today do not forget to honor that.

Perhaps I spoke to soon

Previously, I posted about the need for a new map of China. I wrote that the Three Gorges Dam would create a massive new lake and change the physical geography of the nation.

Then again, maybe it won’t.

The Gweilo Diaries links to a story in the Guardian about massive cracks that are starting to show in the dam. Some 80 cracks up to 10 meters (I have no idea how long that is) long have appeared. Even though extensive time and money has been spent trying to repair cracks that became evident last year those repaired cracks keep returning.

For my money the best paragraph in the whole article is right at the end…
Critics acknowledge that cracks are not unknown in newly built big dams, but they fear that corners may have been cut in order to achieve the arbitrary deadlines laid down by Beijing for political reasons.
This is the understatement of the century. I am not an engineer but I know enough of them to know that arbitrary deadlines are never a good idea when dealing with a massive project. Add to that the added features of arbitrary deadlines set for political reasons by a communist government and you are just courting disaster.

I rather hoped that SARS would be the beginning of the end for the communist rulers of China. However, that (so far) does not look to be the case. Now I wonder if the tipping point will be the horror of the largest dam in the world failing and killing tens of thousands after it was built a great economic and human cost.

No matter how much I want China to some day soon be free of the yolk of communism I really hope that it does not take a massive man made/natural disaster like the failure of the Three Gorges Dam (and the ensuing catastrophic floods) to accomplish that goal.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Time to take a stand

I stand with Scott. Are you ready to take a stand?

Sometimes it's the little things...

that make your day!

For me it was the discovery that there is a short audio extract from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix available on Amazon.

I know that as a grown adult I should not be as excited as I am about it but I am counting down the hours until the release of the next Harry Potter book. A friend commented that it was foolish because I am sure to just read the whole book the night I get it. That will leave me to wait in agony for the next three years until book #6 comes out. I do not care - these books are worth it!

I think what I love about these books is the fact that they have really brought me back to that place where I just LOVED reading. As a girl I always had my head in a book but then as I grew up I found that much adult fiction left me cold. I really enjoy non-fiction histories and biographies but sometimes the soul needs a good page-turner.

What I have realized is that many books out today have no likeable characters - I find that disturbing. I really like books that have strong characters who may have flaws but are likeable on some level. In much adult fiction there are no characters who I really want to identify with. I finish books like that with a strange sense of emptiness. Without identifying with any of the characters, I feel that I have just read words on a page rather than ‘experienced’ a book. When I love a character reading a book that includes that character becomes, for me, a true experience. To this day I remember what happened to Anne Shirley in that house with green gables as well as I remember what happened to me in the fifth grade.

There are dozens of books for children that I can point to which just became part of who I am. Little Women, The Secret Garden, Misty of Chincoteague, The Robbers Daughter, Caddie Woodlawn, Hitty, Little House on the Prairie, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, The Borrowers, The Door in the Wall, Island of the Blue Dolphins…. I could go on (but won’t bore you). Just listing these titles makes me want to read all of these books again. I am still looking for books like that – where I fall into both the plot and the character. I just am not finding them.

Perhaps it is the books that I have chosen - anyone have suggestions for some good summer reading?

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Mr. Answer Man

Steven Den Beste seems to have gotten a (well deserved) reputation as the man with all the answers. He has a great post in response to a 'you seem to know everything' e-mail about the length of day and night at the equator.

I really like the post because it neatly explains the several factors that come together to change the length of the day and night throughout the seasons. I have tried to explain this to many people but have never been able to do it very well without props and a great deal of nonsense until I kind of give up and say - Well I know how that works but can not explain it. (reason 6,845 that I am not a science teacher)

The post ends with a list of things that we are supposed to ignore in the assumptions that he has made. I will ignore them all but put one little nitpick here... The earths axial tilt is 23.5 degrees.

The reason I know this is because when I was a student I worked at a map store. While there I learned a lot about geography and about how very little that people know about geography.

We had a wide selection of globes and they all are placed on their stands at a 23.5 degree tilt. On a fairly regular basis someone would come in and want to buy a globe - but not like the tilted ones because 'they look broken'. In the beginning I thought that peole were just messing with me but then I realized that people really did not know that the earth spis on it's axis to the right on a tilt. I would have to courteously explain that those 23.5 degrees give us seasons and does not mean that the globe is broken.

The best visual representation I have ever seen of the changing quantity of time in the seasons is with a Geochron. This is a really cool combination Map/Calander/Clock. It shows where in the world there is light at any given moment on any day of the year. They also make a screensaver and on that page you can see a simulation of what the Geochron looks like throughout a year.

I would highly recomend a Geochron screensaver - they are the best visual representation of time I have ever seen. If you have one nearby you can easily see the passage of the seasons. A word of warning though - watching the passage of time can get a bit depressing, at least it did for me after a couple of years.

Ask a question...

And the blogosphere will answer!

Yesterday I asked what the name of baby born by the Marine in the Persian Gulf would be.

Today... Kevin at The Primary Main Objective gave us the answer - Angel.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Dear Blogger,

Are you unaware of the fact that you are hemorrhaging users due to your crappy archives bug?

As soon as I can figure out how to shift to a moveable type I will.

for those of you who may want to look at my archives this is my own special way of saying that I have republished again. (arrgghh)

I wonder what they will name the baby?

The Washington Times reports that a Marine gave birth to a baby boy on a ship in the Persian Gulf. The Pentagon reported that this was the first time that an active duty serviceperson gave birth in a war zone.

I am sure that this story will elicit shock and horror but I am actually surprised that it has not happened already. When it comes right down to it pregnancy is a natural condition and wherever there is a large population of women and men living and working together babies are sure to result.

At the very least I think that this is a perfect example of why women in uniform shoud stay ‘in the rear with the gear’. Imagine if this baby had been born on the front lines during a battle – far away from the complete hospital that this baby was born in. In my view those who are agitating for women in combat positions are only interested in their own political advancement.

There will be some shock that the Marine did not know she was pregnant but… this would not be the first time that has happened. Additionally, the Marine in question has been fairly busy for the last few months.

At this point the best question is - what will this healthy baby boy be named? George? Donald?

Reason 4,835 to dislike Hans Blix

ABC (Australia) has an article entitled “Blix hits out at Pentagon ‘bastards’”.

I for one am really happy that these quotes have been reported and the façade of impartiality by Hans Blix is forever smashed. He is quoted as saying
"I have my detractors in Washington. There are bastards who spread things around, of course, who planted nasty things in the media. Not that I cared very much."
Blix has detractors in more than just Washington – are they all bastards?

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Required reading

L.T. Smash has written a wonderful piece entitled ‘Living with America’ (why aren’t you there now?) it is a must read item.

The section about the American Constitution particularly struck me. I have tried to explain this to friends from other countries and have had a really hard time communicating the importance of our constitution. I might just print this post from L.T. Smash out and keep it in my wallet for future reference.

Serves them right!

The BBC reports that America is expelling illegal immigrants who have been discovered living in America due to new Homeland Security regulations.

I for one shall shed no tears for the illegal immigrants who are expelled – if they are not willing to follow the laws of the land in this case how can we trust them to follow other laws?

What I find most striking is the tone in the comments section below the story. The most sensible responses were from those who had followed the letter of the law to enter America. They understandably resented those who entered illegally and now expect to not be punished for that.
I am a British citizen. I immigrated to the USA nearly four years ago after following the rules. It took time, money, patience and as I was marrying a US citizen, a large amount of pain when we were apart. I am glad they are clamping down on the people who sneak in, or sneak through a loophole. If I and so many others have to suffer, work, wait and so forth, then they should too.
Wesley Young, USA
I am glad that Wesley Young took the time and was willing to make the effort to come to America – we need more people here who follow the rules!

I have a friend who has been waiting for a visa for his wife for over 18 months. During that time they have had to live 3000 miles apart while awaiting her legal entry for permanent residency.

This is clearly not a ‘green card’ marriage – they were married nearly 5 years ago and lived in her home country for 3 years before deciding to return to America. Yet it has still taken an absurd length of time for my friend’s wife to get a visa.

The nightmare of waiting for paperwork to wind its way through the labyrinth of bureaucratic red tape is a daunting prospect. However, my friend and his wife are willing to take the time and pay the expenses of doing the right thing.

In my view this is the kind of person we want in America – one who is willing to put the time, effort, and energy into the process of entering this nation and one who respects the rule of law in the nation that they are coming to live in.

Saturday, June 07, 2003

I don’t see this going well

Scanning the BBC website today I came across this page for the first time “What the World Thinks of America”.

For some reason it give me the heebie-jeebies. I think what does it for me is the fact that the main image on the page presenting this show was that of Communist soldiers (Red stars on their caps China? N. Korea?) with the American flag reflecting on their glasses.

Reading more about this upcoming show it seems tome like a train wreck in the making. The show description reads
Andrew Marr, the BBC's political editor, presents a unique broadcasting event confronting a critical question at the heart of the 21st century - what does the world think of America?

What The World Thinks of America, a special 90-minute debate, brings together 10 national broadcasters and a range of diverse voices from around the globe to give a multi-national verdict on the United States.

Hosted from London, the programme will boast a panel of quality thinkers, movers and shakers, including former Palestinian negotiator Dr Sa'eb Erekat, former cabinet minister Clare Short, US journalist Joe Klein and former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto - a seldom convened brains trust of world views on America's pre-eminence.

Satellite links will create a sense of global conversation, with input from leading broadcasters around the world.

The debate will also reveal the results of a ground-breaking, international survey of attitudes that will capture popular prejudices and convictions about America.

There will be a separate poll in the United States testing American's grasp on their public image abroad.

These findings will give a truly global perspective on American values, politics, leadership and popular culture.
(emphasis mine)
As far as I can tell what ‘the world thinks of America’ is that America should care ‘what the world thinks of America’.

It is evidently really becoming frustrating to the media elites worldwide that America doesn’t care if they feel that it is necessary to convene this ‘brains trust’ to discuss the issue.

As an added bonus there is a poll for ‘greatest American’. The top ten Americans who receive the most nominations will become the short list on June 9. Please take a minute and nominate a great American. I nominated Ronald Reagan. I am praying that Bill Clinton does not make it to the short list but considering the BBC audience I am very scared of who will make this list.

If you have a blog – perhaps you can post a link to this ‘greatest American’ poll too? If we can flood the blogosphere with requests to nominate President Reagan he is sure to be on the short list!

I have an excellent sense of direction

Jay Solo linked to this great article.

Basically it states that men and women deal with directions and maps differently. Didn’t we already know this?

I will say that reading this article is very enlightening in terms of helping to understand the different types of ‘directional understanding’ that can lead to misunderstanding.

I think that what leads to my exceptional sense of direction is the fact that I use a combination of the two methods of understanding direction. This means that I can work equally well with whatever type of directions/map I am given. Likely this is a result of growing up in a town with NO straight streets.

The key to giving good directions (beyond giving a map - always the best system) is to be sure to ask the person what type of directions work best for them.

The first – which most guys go for – is to give street numbers and intersections (at the 3500 block of Adams go West).

The second – which women seem to prefer – is all about landmarks (turn left at the Post Office).

When in doubt… put as much information in directions as possible (most importantly a phone number). That way if somebody gets lost they cannot blame you!
I have a question

What is blogshares and how did I get listed on it?

I was scanning through my referrer logs and noticed that somebody had linked into my site through blogshares. I have seen a button for the site before but have no idea what it means. does anyonehave a quick explanation for a gal who is just toooo tired to try to figure it out?

Point proven

Next time somebody questions the fact that I think home schooling is great idea I am going to make them read this article.

Long story short - a mother and her two sons broke into a school and beat one of the sons teachers unconscious.

Why? Because the son was going to be suspended. In light of this action, with any luck, now he will be imprisoned.


Sometimes it is the simple statements that say it all. Check out a great one HERE.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Happy Birthday to me!

Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me
I’m still unemployed
And I have no money.

Normally I am one of those people that really likes my birthday. Mostly because it is the one day a year I can make my friends go see a movie with subtitles, or go out for sushi. I like that extra bit of power that it being your birthday affords you.

However, this year I am not so happy to see my birthday roll around. A couple of months ago I had decided that I would have a good job by today. I am often a strong believer in the power of positive thought but… no luck this time.

There is something extra sucky about the fact that as a grown adult with an MBA I am looking forward to my birthday mostly because I will get a few cash gifts. It is like I am 12 years old again – aarrggghh.

Yesterday Frank J. at IMAO got 75 comments showering him with praise for his birthday. I am sure to judge my self worth against that yardstick – please don’t make me feel bad about myself here.

I have to admit that this blog is a bright spot on my horizon (it is no IMAO but still - it gives me a reason to fire up the laptop). I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. Even if you lie tell me I am not totally wasting my time.

I leave it to you – the readers of my blog to cheer me up… drop a comment here.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003


I am feeling a bit ranty today – be prepared.

This is the first time that I have ever tried to write this rant. I say it to anyone who is foolish enough to be PC and tell me that every person who lives on the American continents is ‘American’.

The first place I remember getting mad about this was when I saw a list of participants in an international conference. The list of participants included the name of the participant and then their nationality.

Dozens of nationalities were listed – Canadian, Italian, Turkish, Columbian, US, Mexican, Spanish, Australian. One of these things just didn’t belong! Every other participant’s nationality was listed but mine was not – rather I just got some initials.

When I approached the organizer I was told that the reason that they did not list my nationality as ‘American’ was because it was unfair to the participants who are from all other nations in the Americas. He then heard this response…

I am not from the US – that could just as easily mean the United States of Mexico. Prior to the mid-1970s it could also have meant the United States of Brazil.

I am not from ‘the states’. What states would those be - The Federated States of Micronesia?

Why is it that those who are from the United States of Mexico are Mexican but those who are from the United States of America are not American?

I am a citizen of the United States of AMERICA. That means that I am an American. I live in the only country in the world that has the world AMERICA in its official name. You can look that one up right here.

If somebody from Paraguay really wants to say that they are American then they should consider petitioning their government for a change of then name of the nation.

For those who choose to identify with a geographical location rather than a nation – North American or South American are the correct terms and they neatly differentiate from those who are American.

I understand why there are those who want to identify as an American even if they are not… after all we are the coolest nation in the world. Unfortunately, just because you are not American doesn’t mean that I can’t call myself American.

For my fellow Americans who are reading this – I hope that you now go out into the world and proudly state that you are an AMERICAN! Fight back against those who are trying to steal our nationality!

I wish I were Geekier

I just found this great quiz via Beyond the Wall of Sleep. Usually I take these quizes laugh and then go on. With this quiz I had to post it here because it got me spot on. Face it... here I am with a blog (fairly geeky pursuit - admit it) however, I have no idea what it might take to make this blog better than the typical blogspot crap (I need to be geekier).

In my last few jobs I have been the non geek to geek translator/mediator. I just need to find another one of those gigs.

I think that what this little quiz clarified for me is the fact that I am more a dork than a geek... I had hoped that my shameful Dr. Who obsession could fit into the lucrative world of geekdom - but it is all Dork.

You are 48% geek
You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.

Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.

You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You'll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!

Geek [to You]: I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!

You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.

Take the Polygeek Quiz at

Soooo funny

I am sure that everyone in the blogosphere has already seen this website.

I just discovered it and have been laughing hysterically. Basically, this guy lost his dot-com job (been there) and spent a lot of time on the computer (doing that). I have a crappy dial-up connection so it took a long time to download the flash movies but they are so very worth it. Check them out!

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

No sale

I am supposed to believe that a nation that creates political leaders like this is superior to America as led by President Bush?

I don’t care how hard they try to sell a sense of French moral superiority– I am not buying.

The curse of three names

In today’s bleat Lileks points out a quirk of news reports involving a captured criminal – they almost always are reported with a full three names.
Well, we know Eric Robert Rudolph’s guilty, don’t we? He has THREE NAMES. He was Eric Rudolph for years, but now he’s Eric Robert Rudolph. Say no more. That’s why I never thought Richard Jewell did the Atlanta bombing; he would have been described as Richard Jay Jewell, or Richard Harvey Jewell. People don’t get a middle name unless they’re a famous criminal. That’s the law. Ricky Ray Rector. Lee Harvey Oswald. James Earl Ray. Sirhan Sirhan Sirhan.
The first time that I was made aware of this quirk was in the movie Baby Boom (ahh… the 80s) – the new mother becomes frantic when she realizes that her babysitter has three names – clearly the sign of a criminal!

I remember being bothered by this at the time because I have 3 names. I was born in the 70s and my parents evidently got in some sort of a fight over whom to name me after. Rather than coming to an agreement (silly idea) they flipped a coin to see which name would go first and gave me two first names - with a hyphen. Considering the flights of fancy that many children born in the 70s are stuck with as names I guess I got off fairly easily (no matter how badly I wished I was named Jenny as a child). Still – my name can sound a bit like a news report of a murder suspect that has been captured.

I know that the reason the media takes the time to use three names in describing suspects or criminals is to further differentiate them. There may be thousands of men in the US named ‘Eric Rudolph’ but there are likely many fewer named ‘Eric ROBERT Rudolph’.

For the same reason I have come to appreciate my name – regardless of the fact that it is too long to fit on any standardized form – the uniqueness of my name makes it memorable. At the very least when I hear my name is called across a crowded room I know that somebody is looking for me. That said… perhaps I should take that extra name off of my resume – maybe I have had a hard time finding a job because nobody wants to hire somebody whose name sounds vaguely menacing.

Monday, June 02, 2003

Environmentalists Vs. Traditional Cultural Practices

In the UK there are many (I can’t find out how many) figures carved into chalk hillsides. These are beautiful large-scale pieces of art that have become emblems of the regions in which they are found.

The most common figure created is a White Horse the origin of which is lost in time – some say that they were installed to honor a horse god in Celtic times. At least one of these horses is believed to date from 878 and additional horses were added to the landscape to celebrate a variety of events or honor different groups.

As a celebration for the millennium a beautiful white horse was carved into a hillside in Kent. The location was selected to be a great farewell image for visitors as they leave for the continent. The owner of the land thought the creation of the White horse was great and a British Judge gave his OK. After all, a new White Horse is but a continuation of a historical cultural practice – why not approve?

This is where the EU rears its ugly head. Evidently, this region is considered an important nature site and the new White Horse is considered destructive. No exception is given for the fact that this is a piece of art that continues ancient traditions.

I am personally in favor of the White Horse. I have seen a couple of White Horses and have to admit that they are lovely – it is rather amazing to consider how hundreds of years ago such a large image could be created in a natural environment and that it is still there for us to enjoy today.

It strikes me that in most of my conversations with lefty types respect for the environment goes hand in hand with a respect for traditional cultural practices. I wonder how they are going to be able to resolve this conflict?

Criminal Stupidity

The BBC reports that a Japanese photographer has been sentenced in Jordan to 18 months in prison for what seems to be the Jordanian version of involuntary manslaughter.

Here is where the new level of stupid comes in to play. This photographer picked up a cluster bomb as a souvenir of his time in Iraq. If life were fair this would have exploded and killed the photographer himself – creating a perfect candidate for the Darwin Awards.

Unfortunately… the photographer packed the cluster bomb in his carry-on luggage.

Naturally, the security screener at the airport noted something was amiss in the bag and decided to investigate it. This is where the tragedy comes in to play – the cluster bomb exploded killing the innocent airport security guard and injuring several others.

A story like this further illuminates the fact that members of the press are not any smarter than the rest of us… in fact the opposite seems to be the case.

Sunday, June 01, 2003


I just added comments! For one who is as HTML illiterate as I am inserting comments that more or less match my existing template is a true success.

I hope that my readers are as happy as I am... or at the very least I get a couple of comments to make the effort worthwhile.
Time for a new map of China

China his announced that the first phase of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River is complete. The closing of the gates today on this dam will create a new lake on the Yangtze that will wreak massive changes on the river. The total project will be completed in 2009.

There are those who have argued the relative merits of the dam. The Chinese government claims that it will save thousands of lives by stopping the deadly floods on the river as well as providing the Chinese economy with badly needed energy. Those opposed to the dam include environmentalists who are opposed to the changes in the river and intellectuals who decry the loss of ancient villages and culturally important locations.

To be honest I have no position on the merits of the project. It seems to be a waste of effort as at this point as it is more or less fait accompli. I have to admit that I am a bit sad that I did not get a chance to go to China and see the Yangtze before the gorges were flooded. I understand that it was a lovely region.

What I do know for certain is that this dam will render all previous physical maps of China obsolete.

The changes wrought by this dam go way beyond those of a simple new roadway – instead there will be a new physical map of China. A new lake (no name has been released) will be created it is expected to stretch for almost 400 miles upstream along the Yangtze. The flooded area will cover 2 cities, 11 counties and 116 towns.

The changes created by the dam will not be on all new maps for a few months. However in the future you should be able to determine the date of any maps of China as being from before or after 2003 based on whether or not they include this new lake created by the Three Gorges Dam.