Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Day is Blown

Not a lot to say today, and I’m pretty sure it’s because I had another one of those nights…fitful sleep (when sleep came at all) interspersed with a couple of hour-long periods of sitting at my desk, staring at The Weather Channel and wondering in a semi-conscious manner why sleep refuses to come. It was light outside when I finally drifted off this morning. These things don’t happen often, but when they do…the whole next day is utterly blown.

I hate it when that happens.

A quick question for those of you with day jobs: is this the holiday weekend, or is it next weekend? Do you have this coming Monday off? Do you have the actual Fourth of July off? Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off? All week off? What? How’s it being done at your place of business?

Today’s Pic: Here we go again…dipping back into the Arches photos from earlier this month. This is another example of the stupendously large, awe-inspiring rock formations that rise from the valley floor.

Arches National Park. June 2, 2007.

Friday, June 29, 2007

This is Sorta Interesting…

…EIP in Arabic. I was chasing a Site Meter link from Morocco and decided to look at the translated page. This is what you see:

If you follow the link to the translated page and mouse over any particular block of text you’ll see the original English text in a pop-up mini-window. Which is just Pretty Danged Cool, it is!

I told you Gentle Reader…I’m easily amused. What further proof do you need?


I’ve been pretty much glued to the TeeVee this morning watching all the brouhaha from London…and it’s significant. Significant in that major loss of life was prevented, either serendipitously and courageously by the police or through ineptness on the part of the bombers; significant in that traffic in central London has probably been a mess all day; significant in that other bombs may have been planted (a suspicious vehicle was found in Park Lane); and significant in the speculation about just who the perps are.

Developing, as it’s said.

Lots of on-line detail here (with photos), here, and here.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Here’s a fascinating story in the NYT about globalization:An iPod Has Global Value. Ask the (Many) Countries That Make It.”
Who makes the Apple iPod? Here’s a hint: It is not Apple. The company outsources the entire manufacture of the device to a number of Asian enterprises, among them Asustek, Inventec Appliances and Foxconn.
But this list of companies isn’t a satisfactory answer either: They only do final assembly. What about the 451 parts that go into the iPod? Where are they made and by whom?
Three researchers at the University of California, Irvine — Greg Linden, Kenneth L. Kraemer and Jason Dedrick — applied some investigative cost accounting to this question, using a report from Portelligent Inc. that examined all the parts that went into the iPod.
Their study, sponsored by the Sloan Foundation, offers a fascinating illustration of the complexity of the global economy, and how difficult it is to understand that complexity by using only conventional trade statistics.
The retail value of the 30-gigabyte video iPod that the authors examined was $299. The most expensive component in it was the hard drive, which was manufactured by Toshiba and costs about $73. The next most costly components were the display module (about $20), the video/multimedia processor chip ($8) and the controller chip ($5). They estimated that the final assembly, done in China, cost only about $4 a unit.
One approach to tracing supply chain geography might be to attribute the cost of each component to the country of origin of its maker. So $73 of the cost of the iPod would be attributed to Japan since Toshiba is a Japanese company, and the $13 cost of the two chips would be attributed to the United States, since the suppliers, Broadcom and PortalPlayer, are American companies, and so on.
The UC Irvine researchers' analysis, and the methodology they used (which is quite detailed, thoughtful, and extensive) comes to a startling conclusion…at least for those folks who bemoan the exporting of American jobs and advocate “fair trade” policies (I’m looking at you, Mr. Dobbs.). It’s all about the value-add. And we’re very good at that particular piece of business. Best in the world, as a matter of fact.
HA HA HA! Omigawd…excuse me, but…HA HA! Hoo-BOY, this is GOOD!
WASHINGTON - Despite low approval ratings and hard feelings from last year's elections, Democrats and Republicans in the House are reaching out for an approximately $4,400 pay raise that would increase their salaries to almost $170,000.
The annual vote on the pay hike comes on an obscure procedural move — instead of a direct up-or-down vote — and Democratic and GOP leaders each delivered a majority of their members to shut off the move to block the pay hike.
So, we get consensus when it comes to a pay raise, but our esteemed legislators can’t seem to get it together when there’s…uh…legislative work…to be done? Oh, the irony.
A pox on them, their houses, and their offspring.
Marc Lynch of Abu Aardvark poses an interesting question, about which I have absolutely no opinion: “Who'll be the first t'blow?
I've been posing the same question to academic Middle East experts and government officials in a variety of forums lately (seminars, workshops, bars), and thought it might be interesting to throw it open here as well. Given the ever-growing strains and pressures on most Arab regimes, which - if any - will be the first to go? By "go", I mean a real change of regime - King Abdullah (Jordan division) replacing his Prime Minister doesn't count, the Hashemites being toppled does. Also, I mean actually functioning and currently seemingly stable states: so the Lebanese, Palestinian, and Iraqi situations don't count. Finally, I'm talking about Arab countries, so Iran is off the table (unless you really want to talk about Iran). So far, the most popular answer has probably been "none" - Arab regimes are really only good at one thing, staying in power at all costs, and there's a lot of well-merited skepticism that now is any different. But if you had to put money down on one, despite your innate skepticism, who would it be?
I have no opinion because I’m just not that well-versed in the arcane world of Middle Eastern politics. About all I know is neatly summed up by Mr. Lynch’s comment, to wit, “Arab regimes are really only good at one thing, staying in power at all costs.” Still the question IS interesting, if only for the accompanying analysis.
Coulter-Edwards follow-up… The LA Times:
WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards said Wednesday that conservative author Ann Coulter's attacks on him were hurtful, even as his campaign used her remarks in an appeal for donations.
Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina, was responding to Coulter's suggestion that she wished he would be "killed in a terrorist assassination plot." His campaign cited her remarks in two e-mails to supporters for donations.
It was not the first time Coulter had given the Edwards campaign a financial boost. In March, she used the word "faggot" in reference to Edwards, and his campaign used video of the comment to help raise $300,000 before the end of the first quarter.
In the latest e-mails, the campaign asked supporters to send donations to defy her remarks and help Edwards meet his goal of raising $9 million in the second quarter. The first e-mail from campaign advisor Joe Trippi showed a clip of Coulter on ABC's "Good Morning America," where she made the assassination comments Monday.
Yesterday I made the point that Coulter should just shut up, as she’s John Edwards’ best, albeit de facto, fundraiser. Maybe I was missing the longer view. Maybe I should urge Ms. Coulter on. Because, really now, could the GOP ask for a better Democrat nominee than Pretty Boy? Any one of the leading Republican candidates (well, except for McCain, perhaps, but he’s not leading) would wipe the floor with Edwards while simultaneously erasing McGovern’s name from its place of (dis)honor in the Big Book of American Electoral Fiascoes.
Just sayin’.
Today’s Pic: The Well-Equipped Garage. I snapped this pic while at SN1’s place last month. Left to right: the ‘Zuki, Buck’s Kowalski, and my (now Buck’s) Ol’ Yammer-Hammer. This pic gives some perspective on the ‘Zuki’s size. Both the ‘Zuki and the Kowalski are 650s, but the ‘Zuki shares its frame and running gear with its bigger brother: the Suzuki DL-1000. Did I ever tell ya that it’s a BIG bike, Gentle Reader? Oh, I did? Never mind.
Layton, UT. May, 2007.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Burnin' Down the House

RP is back burnin’ down the house with great music, Lizzie Edwards does a slow-burn about Ann Coulter and actually calls her on it, and Tehran literally burns, in places.

RP is back today after yesterday’s Day of Silence. So the soundtrack to my life resumes…Further…there’s this on RP’s home page this morning:
Due to the huge numbers of Internet radio listeners who responded to this appeal, many of you were unable to get through to your Senators and Representative. If so, it's definitely not too late. Please contact your members of Congress now via and ask them to support the legislation currently pending that would set an Internet radio royalty rate that is fair to all involved: stations, listeners, artists, and record companies.
What's this all about? The US Copyright Office has set a royalty fee structure for Internet radio that is — in almost all cases — at least 10 times greater than the royalties paid by any other type of radio, anywhere in the world. No existing Internet radio services would be able to operate profitably under this fee structure. It would mean the end of stations like Radio Paradise, and the end of the royalty payments to artists that we're currently making.
No indication as to what “huge numbers” actually means. But it’s a great good thing that the phone lines were so busy some folks were unable to get through. I didn’t even try to call, opting for e-mail instead. I hate phones; it’s just the way I am. But you, Gentle Reader, probably aren’t phone-phobic. You could ring up your congresscritter’s office and tell ‘em internet radio is worth saving, if you have a free minute or three today. I’d sure appreciate it if you did.

Today’s Teapot TempestElizabeth Edwards vs. Ann Coulter.
Elizabeth Edwards, ever her husband's most aggressive defender, called in to MSNBC's "Hardball" yesterday to admonish conservative commentator Ann Coulter for using the "language of hate" to attack John Edwards. Elizabeth Edwards asked Coulter -- who has compared the former senator to a gay man and has mused about his death in a terrorist attack -- to stop using personal attacks as part of her public routine, a request Coulter quickly rebuffed.
I don’t like Coulter. I’ve said this before and my opinion hasn’t changed. God Help Me for saying/thinking this, but Mrs. Edwards is right. Coulter’s rhetoric is SO far over the top she’s become a caricature of the right and an actual asset to the likes of Pretty Boy. Coulter’s “fag” comment about Edwards raised millions for the man. Hell, Elizabeth should be glad Coulter attacks her man as she does. And Jonah Goldberg thinks she is:
More to the point, John Edwards is imploding. And his last really good moment in the press was when Coulter called him a "faggot." It was dumb and distasteful, but it was also money in the bank for Edwards, who used it to further endear himself to the netroots base and to raise money on it. Elizabeth Edwards is — smartly — trying to change the subject back to Edwards as a victim of those mean rightwingers. It strikes me as a little desperate.
Desperate, perhaps. Smart? Most certainly.

Shut up, Ann. Or at the very least, tone it down. For the children your party.

Meanwhile, Tehran Burns
Motorists today set fire to petrol stations in Tehran in an angry backlash against the Iranian government's decision to impose petrol rationing.

A station in Pounak, a poor neighbourhood of the capital, was set alight, while two pumps were completely destroyed at another in the east of the city.


Iranian state radio reported that several petrol stations had been attacked by "vandals".

The unrest put further political pressure on the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is already under fire for failing to deliver on promises to improve the economy after his election in 2005.

In May, the government reduced subsidies for petrol, causing a 25% jump in prices.

Pajamas Media has more, including shaky cell-phone video of burning gas stations (worthless, IMHO, coz it could be any gas station…just sayin’), and links to a Canadian-Iranian blogger (much more worthwhile) and other sources.

The Left thinks Dubya and Co. is inept at managing our gub’mint, but real ineptness is named “Ahmadinejad.” This could get out of hand real fast, Insh’Allah.

We Got a LOT of Wind Last Night…

…and it took down an old dead tree just behind El Casa Móvil De Pennington. You can see the tree hit my car-hauler and missed the RV. I think I’ll light a candle now.

As the ol’ saying goes: “It could have been worse.” I could be calling an insurance adjuster this morning from the Holiday Inn Express, give or take a couple of feet to the left or so. Instead I’ll just wait for the park guys to come around with chain saws and cut the wayward tree up and haul it off.

The funny thing is I never heard the thing come down. The RV was certainly rocking and there were a lot of bumping and thumping noises and such, but I don’t recall any loud crashing noises.

Oh. How bad was the wind? Well, the National WX Service's severe weather bulletin (the crawl on the WX Channel's broadcast) last evening said "70 mph winds had been observed" at the Melrose Bombing Range around 1930 hours, or so. (The range is about 25 miles north-northwest of me.) The tree was still up at that time.

Back in a few…

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Rage Boy

Christopher Hitchens, writing yesterday in Slate:

If you follow the link, you will be treated to some scenes from the strenuous life of a professional Muslim protester in the Kashmiri city of Srinagar. Over the last few years, there have been innumerable opportunities for him to demonstrate his piety and his pissed-offness. And the cameras have been there for him every time. Is it a fatwah? Is it a copy of the Quran allegedly down the gurgler at Guantanamo? Is it some cartoon in Denmark? Time for Rage Boy to step in and for his visage to impress the rest of the world with the depth and strength of Islamist emotion.

Last week, there was another go-round of this now-formulaic story, when Salman Rushdie accepted a knighthood from her majesty the queen, and the whole cycle of hysteria started up again. Effigies and flags burned (is there some special factory in Karachi that churns out the flags of democratic countries for occasions like this?), wounded screams from religious nut bags, bounties raised to suborn murder, and solemn resolutions passed by notional bodies such as the Pakistani "parliament." A few months ago, it was the pope who was being threatened, and Christians in the Middle East and Muslim Asia who were actually being killed. Indeed, Rage Boy had a few yells and gibberings to offer on that occasion, too.

Hitch is always good, and it goes without saying you “should read the whole thing.” But it was the Rage Boy link that really got me, Gentle Reader. Rage Boy looks to be nearly as famous as Green Helmet Guy. I don’t think Warhol had an Islamic vision of his 15 minutes of fame shtick, but it has come to pass…

Guess I Gotta Clean Up My Act...

Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

I quote:

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:
ass (4x)
dead (3x)
death (2x)
screwing (1x)

Seems rather arbitrary to me, but what the Hell. Who'd thunk I'd be so on about death and dying, eh? Screw the other stuff...

Hat tip: The Thunder Run

Save Internet Radio!!

So. I turned on the computer this morning and after I got the coffee started I went to the “listen” section of Radio Paradise to turn on the radio stream and what do I see? This:

All day today, Radio Paradise is joining hundreds of other US-based webcasters in discontinuing our normal programming, and asking our listeners for help in our fight to stay online and continue broadcasting.

Please contact your members of Congress now via and ask them to support the legislation currently pending that would set an Internet radio royalty rate that is fair to all involved: stations, listeners, artists, and record companies.

The US Copyright Office has set a royalty fee structure for Internet radio that is — in almost all cases — at least 10 times greater than the royalties paid by any other type of radio, anywhere in the world. No existing Internet radio services would be able to operate profitably under this fee structure. It would mean the end of stations like Radio Paradise, and the end of the royalty payments to artists that we're currently making.

Don't believe the record industry propaganda that says that Internet radio is trying to deprive artists and labels of fair royalty payments. Under the legislation we're supporting, we would still be paying a higher royalty rate than any other class of broadcaster in the US.

Please contact your members of Congress now via and urge them to take action before the new rates take effect on July 15th. With your help and support, we are confident that sanity will prevail in DC (at least on this issue...). We'll resume normal programming tonight at midnight (PST).

I contacted my representative and both my senators. I’m not sure if expressing my opinion is actually gonna help, but it sure as Hell won’t hurt. If you have a spare minute today, please call or write your congresscritters and help save internet radio…details at the link above. If you don’t want to call, please write. The senate has a form-based application for contacting senators via e-mail; the house has a list of members e-mail addresses. This is what I sent my reps; feel free to cut and paste if you so desire:

Dear Representative Brady:

Below is a cut and paste from


I am a constituent and I'm calling to ask you to save Internet radio by co-sponsoring the Internet Radio Equality Act.


The Copyright Royalty Board's decision to increase royalty rates for webcasters is going to turn off my Internet radio and I do NOT want that to happen. Please co-sponsor the Internet Radio Equality Act.


I believe that artists should be fairly compensated for the music they make, but putting my webcasters out of business will only hurt artists more. They depend on Internet radio to get their music out to fans and build new audiences. When the webcasters go off the air, so do artists. Please co-sponsor the Internet Radio Equality Act.


Internet radio is one of the only bright spots for independent music and diversity. We NEED Internet radio. Don't turn it off. Co-sponsor the Internet Radio Equality Act.

I am a BIG fan of internet radio and listen to Radio Paradise every single day....except today, because they're participating in the "Internet Radio Day of Silence." It's a taste of what would happen if the Copyright Royalty Board's ill-advised decision to raise royalty rates for internet radio is put into effect. And I don't like going without my favorite radio station, even for one single day.

I would hate to lose my favorite radio station because of an arbitrary ruling by a regulatory agency, not a legislative body. You have it in your power to ensure such a thing doesn't happen...simply by voting for the Internet Radio Equality Act. I know there are lots of pressing issues on your plate, but this is an issue that impacts small business as well as hundreds of thousands of consumers who enjoy internet radio.

Please support and vote for the Internet Radio Equality Act.
Buck Pennington
Exile in Portales

I’d hate to lose RP…the station has become a part of my life. A very good part of my life.

Monday, June 25, 2007


I tend to assume certain things about you, Gentle Reader, when I select items to write about, link to, or otherwise comment upon here at EIP. One of my key assumptions is you read a lot of the same stuff I do, so pointing you to, say Michael Yon’s place, would be redundant. Chances are you’ve either already been to those places before you came here, or you’re going there in short order.

That said, it never hurts to remember the ol’ saw about assumptions…the one about how they tend to make an “ass” out of “u” and “i.” So, in that spirit, I’ll simply point out the obvious, something I’m quite sure you know already: there’s no finer reporting coming out of Iraq, specifically on Operations Phantom Thunder and Arrowhead Ripper, than that provided by Yon and Bill Roggio. They’re daily reads for YrHmblScrb. And I assume they are for you, too.

I’ve been noticing a lot of back-and-forth of late between leftie and right-of-center blogs concerning Iran. The dominant line of thinking on the Left is “don’t let Chimpy McHalliburton talk us into another war like he did last time,” coupled with (to a lesser extent) “Iran poses no threat to us,” followed up by “what’s wrong with Iran having nukes? WE have ‘em…” and so on. Classic denial, in other words. The Left needs to pay more attention, or at least begin thinking along the lines of “what if Ahmadinejad really means what he’s saying?” The latter IS possible, ya know.

A good place for the Left to begin reading would be this article in today’s WSJ. I quote, in part:

The apparent meaning of all of this pointless provocation and bullying is that the axis of radicals--Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah--is feeling its oats. In part its aim is to intimidate the rest of us, in part it is merely enjoying flexing its muscles. It believes that its side has defeated America in Iraq, and Israel in Gaza and Lebanon. Mr. Ahmadinejad recently claimed that the West has already begun to "surrender," and he gloated that " final victory . . . is near." It is this bravado that bodes war.

A large portion of modern wars erupted because aggressive tyrannies believed that their democratic opponents were soft and weak. Often democracies have fed such beliefs by their own flaccid behavior. Hitler's contempt for America, stoked by the policy of appeasement, is a familiar story. But there are many others. North Korea invaded South Korea after Secretary of State Dean Acheson declared that Korea lay beyond our "defense perimeter." Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait after our ambassador assured him that America does not intervene in quarrels among Arabs. Imperial Germany launched World War I, encouraged by Great Britain's open reluctance to get involved. Nasser brought on the 1967 Six Day War, thinking that he could extort some concessions from Israel by rattling his sword.

Democracies, it is now well established, do not go to war with each other. But they often get into wars with non-democracies. Overwhelmingly the non-democracy starts the war; nonetheless, in the vast majority of cases, it is the democratic side that wins. In other words, dictators consistently underestimate the strength of democracies, and democracies provoke war through their love of peace, which the dictators mistake for weakness.

It’s the signal failure of the Left: they’re too damned good for their…our… own good. The inability to see evil, and evil intent, simply because you believe in your heart of hearts that all men want the same things…peace, love, and understanding…is a tragic and potentially lethal flaw. It continues to amaze me that otherwise rational people cannot recognize a mortal threat even as it screams out its hatred for you and all you stand for.

I really don’t get it.

Today’s Pic: A brightly lit shop in Albuquerque’s Old Town, at sunset.

January, 2004.

And now, Gentle Reader, I intend to take the remainder of this morning’s coffee and a portion of a Spanish Rosada out on the verandah. Before it gets too danged hot to do anything outside…

Sunday, June 24, 2007

YouTube, Portales Edition

No comment.

British Newspaper Readership, Explained

This clip is from “Yes, Prime Minister,” an old British sitcom from the 80’s. Rumor has it the show was “Mrs. Thatcher’s favorite political TV comment.” Rumor also has it this demographic evaluation of the various Brit newspapers is spot on, especially that of connoisseurs of The Sun’s third page.

Stolen from The Times (UK) weekly “best of” video page.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

It Couldn't Happen Here, Now, Could It?

Today’s Cautionary Tale…in The Times (UK), “Alas, poor Britain. The best name for it is Absurdistan:”

I defer to the greater knowledge of modern Britain evidently garnered by standing in empty fields with camera crews, but I wonder if this is really the right conclusion. I love Britain as much as anyone, and I certainly believe it is our openness that makes it such an attractive place. But I can’t share the optimism about our multiculture, and much more importantly, my own impression is not of the triumph of the British spirit but of its steady subversion by an ever-growing dependency culture.


This is the self-perpetuating logic behind the unstoppable momentum of the expanding State. The bigger it grows, the more it intrudes into our lives, and the more it intrudes into our lives, the more dependent we become on it. Education is the same. Our great universities are struggling to compete in a global market because they are hamstrung by the State. They are dependent on central government for their funding; but that funding is insufficient to meet the needs of global competition. But because they need government money for what they do, they cannot break free.

Leviathan is now so large that, outside London, half the population is dependent – either through public sector jobs or benefits – on taxes. Its power is so large that it has bent us all into submission. It has produced a culture in which no one needs to take responsibility for anything because someone else is always there to back us up.

I’ve said this often, but it bears repeating: Britain seems to have arrived at a place we, as Americans, certainly don’t want to go. But the public pontifications of some of our erstwhile leaders and the triumph of multi-culturalism in academe lead me to believe otherwise. The chorus of dissenting (OK, he’s Australian, but he’s part of the Anglosphere) voices to the British status-quo is encouraging (for the Brits). The dissenters are more of a vocal rear-guard than anything else; their protestations seem to have little, if any effect on Britain’s political life and culture.

The best we can do is observe and vow not to let it happen here. Despite Her Hillaryness, Pretty Boy, and the like.

More, albeit briefly, at The Corner.

Friday, June 22, 2007

C'mon Now, Let's Just Be Fair...

This is not good…not good at all:

Among radio formats, the combined news/talk format (which includes news/talk/information and talk/personality) leads all others in terms of the total number of stations per format and trails only country music in terms of national audience share. Through more than 1,700 stations across the nation, the combined news/talk format is estimated to reach more than 50 million listeners each week.

As this report will document in detail, conservative talk radio undeniably dominates the format:

· Our analysis in the spring of 2007 of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners reveals that 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming is conservative, and 9 percent is progressive.

· Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk are broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk—10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk.

· A separate analysis of all of the news/talk stations in the top 10 radio markets reveals that 76 percent of the programming in these markets is conservative and 24 percent is progressive, although programming is more balanced in markets such as New York and Chicago.

This dynamic is repeated over and over again no matter how the data is analyzed, whether one looks at the number of stations, number of hours, power of stations, or the number of programs. While progressive talk is making inroads on commercial stations, conservative talk continues to be pushed out over the airwaves in greater multiples of hours than progressive talk is broadcast.


Our conclusion is that the gap between conservative and progressive talk radio is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system, particularly the complete breakdown of the public trustee concept of broadcast, the elimination of clear public interest requirements for broadcasting, and the relaxation of ownership rules including the requirement of local participation in management.

Hoo-Boy. The bit that is particularly scary is the “multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system,” which one could take as code for the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine (the resurrection of which is one of my serious hot-buttons). But you know what’s really scary? This: Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton Will Target Talk Radio: Inhofe.” And you know Her Hillaryness would do just that, should she be elected Leader of the Free World. In a frickin’ heartbeat. It doesn’t matter what the market (read: the people) wants…it’s all about outcome. And the Lib-Left is sick and tired…beyond sick and tired…of losing their ass in the radio world. The next logical step in the process is to eliminate conservative talk radio…in the interests of “fairness,” ya know. We just gotta be fair about the whole thing.

And just for grins and giggles, Confederate Yankee notes the following:

Back before he was governor of Minnesota and was still prowling the squared-circle as the villainous heel "The Body," Jesse Ventura used to growl, "Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat!"

That maxim seems to have been taken to heart (and wallet) by the progressive Center For American Progress (CAP), which released a document called "The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio," which advocates the return of the failed "Fairness Doctrine" in talk radio, in an attempt to censor and stifle the dominance of conservative talkers.

What the Center For American Progress won't tell you is that one of the authors of the liberally-biased "report," Paul Woodhull, is a founding partner of not one, but two liberal talk radio show companies, Big Eddie Radio Productions, LLC (BERP), which produces The Ed Shultz Show, and Bill Press Partners, LLC, producers of The Bill Press Show.

As I said…it’s all about outcome. Oh yeah, and advancing your own financial interests, as well.

Update 1224 hrs: Here’s Peggy Noonan on Her Hillaryness, which has nothing to do with talk radio or the Fairness Doctrine, but is interesting, none the less:

As for her attempts to appeal to centrists, two items deserve note. One is that Mrs. Clinton has taken, on the stump, to referring to herself as "born . . . in the middle of America in the middle of the century." This is interesting because it's word for word what George H.W. Bush said in 1988 when he introduced his choice of Dan Quayle. She has also taken to referring to herself as famous but unknown, which is exactly what was said of Vice President Bush the same year. Mrs. Clinton seems to have been studying 1988, which was the last time anyone won the presidency in a landslide.

But there is another side of the Clinton campaign, and I found some of it this week. It is a new Web site called It is rather mysterious. It does not divulge who is running the site, or who staffs it. It is not interactive; it has one informative voice, and its target audience seems to be journalists and free-lance oppo artists.

And it reads like The Warrior's Id. Hillary "took on" a journalist this week and "beat him into submission." Bloomberg has "stripped himself of allies" in "New York's cutthroat politics." "Expect stormy days ahead for Bloomberg," who will wind up "lonely." Republicans "will attempt to rip him to shreds." "A May surprise announcement will be met with mounds of research accumulated over the next 11 months."

The woman is the veritable Queen of Darkness. Read the whole thing.

Update Number Two, 6/23/07: The whole Boxer-Her Hillaryness conversation may or may not have happened. Or it may have happened three years ago. To say this isn’t entirely clear is understating the case, but the Lefties are sure having fun with it. Here’s an update from Jake Tapper’s ABC News blog:

UPDATE: Boxer's and Clinton's offices got back to me.

"Senator Boxer told me that either her friend Senator Inhofe needs new glasses or he needs to have his hearing checked, because that conversation never happened," says Natalie Ravitz, the communications director for Boxer.

"Jim Inhofe is wrong," says Philippe Reines, Clinton's press secretary. "This supposed conversation never happened - not in his presence or anywhere else."

AFTERNOON UPDATE: Even though Inhofe prefaced this story by saying "I was going over to vote the other day," the Oklahoman this afternoon told Fox News' Neil Cavuto that this alleged conversation took place "about three years ago."

That's kind of weak.

Yeah, that IS kinda weak. The fact remains, however: The Left knows (a) right-wing radio is eating its lunch, (b) the Left has been unable to mount an economically viable, serious challenge to right-wing radio, so (c) “something must be done.” Evidence? All this talk of reviving the Fairness Doctrine. QED.

Carlin has Still Got It. In Spades.

You'll probably have to watch this at least three times to get everything. I know I did...

hat tip: Chaotic Synaptic Activity, via Chap.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

An Inside Story

So. I didn’t blog about it, there being some…no, a lot…of things in the news I won’t touch with the proverbial ten-foot pole. Dan Rather shooting off his mouth about CBS “tarting up” the news by hiring Katie Couric was one such item. There was a grain of truth in the story, however, aside from all the hyperventilating and illogical associations of the phrase “tarting up” and Katie’s own perky self. And that would be this:
From a high of 13 million viewers in her first weeks on the air, Couric is now drawing less than 6 million and the "CBS Evening News” is in last place in the nightly news race, according to the New York Post.
CBS reportedly plans an aggressive promotional campaign this summer in an attempt to boost ratings.
CBS really intends to get to the bottom of this, to an extent that was unknown until this past Tuesday, when IowaHawk blew the whistle. Here’s just part of the “inside story,” according to Ace Detective Dan Rather:
“It just doesn’t add up,” said Moonves, pacing the floor of his office and daubing the sweat from his glistening forehead. “The research boys Q-tested Katie with all the upscale demographic groups. We balanced all the war disaster stories with soft focus celebrity news. And still our numbers are leaking worse than a viewer in our core bladder control product advertising target.”
“Those viewers have to be somewhere, Moonves,” I said. “Maybe it was an inside job. Maybe it was the other nets.”
“No dice Rather,” he said, pouring another shaky four fingers of Ensure into his highball glass. “the audience embezzlers been hitting every precinct in town – ABC, NBC, CNN, MSNBC. They hit Time and Newsweek so hard that even the dentist offices won’t touch ‘em. If we don’t do something soon we’re gonna lose the Poligrip account!”
“Dan, do you think…do you think this has something to do with the internet mob?” said Couric, a pall of perky horror washing over her mug.
“I’m way ahead of you, baby. We’ve got some bloggers to talk to.”
She kicked me in the nuts again.
“Ow!” I screamed. “What was that for?”
“I thought you were going to slap me again,” she said.
I had to hand it to her. She was learning.
“Where are we going Rather?” asked Couric, slinking into the passenger door of my black Hudson.
“Townhall. We’ve got a surprise date with Cleveland Huey and his crew.” I packed my Sony FV-100 noise canceller mic into its holster in case of trouble.
A few minutes later we arrived at the nondescript hall deep in the Blogosphere Bowery. We pushed through the filthy padded door and made our way to a smoky backroom. Huey was seated at a card table, around which sat a rogue’s gallery of sleazy online opinion slingers: Beantown Barney, the head of the Boston family; Mongo Steyn, the hulking French Canadian punditry thug; Duffer Hitchens, the East End goon with a taste for brutal polemics; and Jimmie Fargo, capo of the Twin Cities blog syndicate.
Jackpot, I thought. I knew they were up to their fedoras in some kind of audience heist. Trouble was, it would be next to impossible extracting information out of them. Hewitt and his gang were notoriously tight-lipped, and were blood-sworn to the Blogosphere code of silence. Getting two words out of this bunch of mutes would be harder than getting a proportional font out of a ’68 IBM Selectric.
“Nice little hideout you got here Huey,” I said sauntering up to the table. Couric’s fingers clutched my arm tightly. “There’s probably enough room here to stash a million or two missing TV news viewers.”
“You’ve got it all wrong, pally,” said Huey, tossing cards around the green felt. “This joint here is a, whattayacallit…”
“Social club,” offered Mongo, discarding a pair.
“Yeah yeah, social club. That’s it. Place for me and the boys to get away from the wives. Play some cards, talk about the weather. How’s the weather in Minneapolis these days, Jimmy?”
“The usual,” said Fargo, shooting me a straight razor glare.
“See what I mean, Rather? Strictly small talk.”
“Yeah yeah, boss, small talk,” said Beantown.
“Shaddup, stupid!” he glared. “Just play your hand, real easy-like.”
“That’s not the word on the street, Huey,” said Couric, angrily. “Word is you and your pals are packing microphones and rolling up a lot of hit counts.”
“Oh sure, doll, we do a little radio, and blog once in a while,” said Huey. “Just a little fun. But I ain’t touched a TV studio ever since I left PBS. Ain’t dat right, Hitchens?”
“I don’t know nuthin’ about nuthin’,” said the menacing Limey, slamming back a shot of Yoo Hoo chocolate beverage. “Gimme three.”
“If I were you, Rather, I’d go snoopin’ out in L.A.,” said Hewitt. “That’s where all the action is. Any of you mugs got an 8?”
“Go fish!” snapped Gnat, Jimmy Fargo’s pint sized gun moll.
There’s a happy ending, of course. You can read the rest of “The Ratings Always Drop Twice” here. To quote Mr. Reynolds: Heh.
Today’s Pic: Crank up The Way-Back Machine and set the controls for the summer of 1998 (this being the first day of summer and all). This is SN3 getting ready to go out and stomp in a few puddles. Actually, he’s taking a short break as he had already been out doing just that, with active participation from both TSMP and me. Life’s small pleasures, and all that.
Fairport, NY. July 4, 1998.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Ramble On...

Follow-up…Monday I gave all y’all a link to a National Geographic article on Rory Stewart, the young Scotsman who’s on a quest to save Old Kabul. I didn’t notice it at the time, but there’s a link on the NatGeo site to a photo essay on Mr. Stewart and places in Kabul the author, Mr. Stewart, and the NatGeo photographer visited. There are 23 photos, all quite good (Hey, it IS NatGeo we’re taking about here!). Recommended.

Hat tip: Shaun Mullen at The Moderate Voice. I should point out Chap had this story on June 16th, I stole it from Chap on the 18th, and The Moderate Voice posted it today. Good stuff makes the rounds on these here inter-tubes, now, don’t it?

Via Gerard…Here’s “Roger That!”

The man has a point.

You could do worse than stopping by van der Leun’s place today. No new essays or other tours de force, but he does have a collection of good links to check out. His “Airbus saving the planet” link is good, but I particularly like what he has to say about Mikey:

Sicko's gonna make you sick: Forget the film. You can avoid that. What you can't avoid will be the next 500 cable news segments about Michael Moore, the 18,620 blog posts about Michael Moore, and the endless images of Michael Moore. Brace yourself.

Gerard’s right…it’s already begun. I think I caught two or three flashes of Moore’s fat ass last night alone. The ol’ remote is gonna get quite the workout during the next week or so. (No link. If you’re all that interested in The Fat Guy, google him.)

The Nutroots on The Nutroots:

The woman at the podium is the pseudonymous blogger Digby (of Hullabaloo), in her first public appearance (as far as I know). She was accepting, on behalf of progressive bloggers— all those people you see behind her —the Paul Wellstone Citizen Leadership Award. In so doing, she invoked every single moonbat cliché there is, save one (there wasn’t any mention of the 9/11 Truthers; Thank God for small favors). But anyway…if you want to know what drives the Nutroots, Digby explains it all. You can’t make this stuff up.

From yesterday’s Guardian (UK)China overtakes US as world's biggest CO2 emitter:”

China has overtaken the United States as the world's biggest producer of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, figures released today show.

The surprising announcement will increase anxiety about China's growing role in driving man-made global warming and will pile pressure onto world politicians to agree a new global agreement on climate change that includes the booming Chinese economy. China's emissions had not been expected to overtake those from the US, formerly the world's biggest polluter, for several years, although some reports predicted it could happen as early as next year.

It’s gonna be real interesting to see how the Global Warming climate change Chicken-Littles are gonna spin this lil bit of information…and whether or not there will be calls to include China in global targets for greenhouse gas emissions. You’ll remember, of course, that China was exempted from the Kyoto Protocol. Because they’re… you know…“developing.” Well, it looks like they’ve developed to the point where they’re outstripping the perpetually-guilty party among the community of nations, eh? As far as emissions go, anyway.

So. Becky tagged me with a meme while I was off on my mid-life crisis motorcycle mega-ride last month, and Kris tagged me day before yesterday with what I think is the same one…to wit: tell us eight things we don’t know about you. Pretty hard, that. It’s not easy to come up with eight things you don’t know, as I tend to share everything… “everything” being code for “too much information,” as it were. And then there’s that gray area concerning the statute of limitations for various and sundry things. I dunno if one can effectively blog from jail. But anyway. Let us attempt to fill this square.

  1. I didn’t get serious about life until I was well into my 30’s… Up until that time my life could have been characterized by a single phrase: “I’m here for the party.” And party I did. It’s amazing I managed to survive, and I credit The Second Mrs. Pennington for turning me around saving my life. But, you knew that last bit, Gentle Reader.
  2. I voted for George McGovern in ’72. Worse yet, I voted for Carter in ’76. Dept. of Everlasting Shame.
  3. Things I did to make (extra) money as a young airman: Bagged groceries. Weeded bean fields. Busted tires in the tire shop at Sears Roebuck. Cleaned a beauty shop every Sunday night for a year.
  4. I got fired from the tire shop job at Sears. The only time I’ve ever been fired in my life. I destroyed a radial tire while trying to mount it. The foreman had absolutely no sense of humor about that.
  5. I hate carrots.
  6. The Second Mrs. Pennington and I hitch-hiked from Tokyo to Kyoto over the Christmas holiday in 1975. It was only after we returned (by train) from Kyoto that we learned one simply doesn’t hitch-hike in Japan. Ever.
  7. The most amazing place I’ve ever been is Cappadocia. Ever.
  8. London is my favorite city in all the world.

And there you have it, Gentle Reader. Can we have a moratorium on memes, now?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Fruits of This Morning’s Labors…

So. Remember last week I said I was gonna get outside and wash and wax The Green Hornet? Well, I made it outside, only to decide that 60 degrees was just a bit too chilly to play around in the water. I blew it off, in other words.
Not so this morning. I was done with the coffee and as much surfing as I felt I could take by 0830 today, chiefly because I got up at oh-dark-thirty this morning. And that included putting up today’s main post. And it was warm outside…75 degrees already.
Ergo: wash and wax the car. Done by 1100. And this is the result, Gentle Reader. She doesn’t look too bad for a six and a half year old, eh? (Click for larger...and to see her in ALL her glistening glory. Heh.)
Today. P-Town.

The Warrior Class

In my miscellaneous ramblings around the ‘net this morning I came upon two essays that are (a) a bit longish and (b) required some substantial thought…at least on my part. I suggest reading them in order, beginning with Robert Kaplan’s “On Forgetting the Obvious” before moving to “"The Emergence of a Separate American Warrior Caste," by Dymphna at The Gates of Vienna. The reason for the order of reading is simple: Dymphna draws heavily upon Kaplan’s essay and extrapolates meaning from the points Kaplan makes. The theme should be obvious from the title of the second essay. The title of Kaplan’s essay is less intuitive but has everything to do with the disappearance of, shall we say, the martial spirit in America and the rest of the West’s liberal democracies, Europe in particular. Here’s an excerpt or two from Kaplan:

Alas, in the unpredictable fog and Clausewitzian “friction” of war, to believe in something is more important than to be blessed by mere logic, or to have the ability for talented argument—even more important than the marvelous gear one carries. “Faith is the great strategic factor that unbelieving faculties and bureaucracies ignore”, retired Army Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters wrote in the Weekly Standard in February 2006. This is not a new idea, of course, just an obvious but too often forgotten one. It suggests particularly that we have forgotten Dostoyevsky, who wrote in The Brothers Karamazov that the signal flaw of the upper classes is that they “want to base justice on reason alone”, not on any deeper belief system absent which everything can be rationalized, so that the will of a society to fight and survive withers away.

Peters fears that Islamic revolutionaries believe in themselves more than we believe in ourselves. Terrorists do not fear the Pentagon’s much touted “network-centric warfare”, he writes, because they have mastered it for a fraction of a cent on the dollar, “achieving greater relative effects with the Internet, cell phones, and cheap airline tickets” than have all of our military technologies. Our trillion-dollar arsenal, he notes, cannot produce an instrument of war as effective as the suicide bomber—“the breakthrough weapon of our time.” If not Dostoyevsky, Kipling would have understood this. In the poem “Arithmetic on the Frontier” Kipling writes that as the hillsides of eastern Afghanistan teem with “home-bred” troops brought from England at “vast expense of time and steam”, the odds remain “on the cheaper man”, the native fighter. The suicide bomber is Kipling’s “cheaper man” incarnate.


Faith is about struggle, about having confidence precisely when the odds are the worst. Faith is the capacity to believe in what is simultaneously necessary but improbable. That kind of faith is receding in America among a social and economic class increasingly motivated by universal values: caring, for example, about the suffering of famine victims abroad as much as for hurricane victims at home. Universal values are a good in and of themselves, and they are not the opposite of faith. But they should never be confused with it. You may care to the point of tears about suffering humankind without having the will to actually fight (let alone inconvenience yourself) for those concerns. Thus, universal values may pose an existential challenge to national security when accompanied by a loss of faith in one’s own political values and projects.

The loss of a warrior mentality and the rise of universal values seem to be features of all stable, Western-style middle-class democracies. Witness our situation. The Army Reserve is desperate for officers, yet there is little urge among American elites to volunteer. Thus our military takes on more of a regional caste. The British Army may have been drawn from the dregs of society, but its officers were the country’s political elite. Not so ours, which has little to do with the business of soldiering and is socially disconnected from what guards us in our sleep. According to Marine Maj. General Michael Lehnert, nine Princeton graduates in the class of 2006 entered the military, compared to 400 in 1956, when there was a draft. Some Ivy League schools had no one enter the military last year. Only one member of the Stanford graduating class had a parent in the military.

Dymphna picks up where Kaplan leaves off…or rather expounds upon some of the ideas Kaplan introduces, amplifying them with personal experience.

I would venture that the warrior class in this country is diverted somewhat into the police force and fire brigades. These are jobs requiring valor and extremes of courage. But their numbers are not enough to sustain us against our aggressors. Where are the officers to come from? Many elite schools don’t even permit ROTC components on their campuses, though they are more than glad to take federal monies. In a real world, schools which banned the military should not be eligible for federal aid. But then again, except for a few outstanding examples, our Imperial Congress is made up of people who definitely do not belong to Mr. Kaplan’s warrior class. Far from it: even those charged with military affairs are rude and demanding when they call officers from the Pentagon to appear before their courts to be admonished, blamed, and sarcastically ridiculed.

I grew up in a warrior town during the period of national service. It was simply expected: at some point in your late teens or early twenties, you gave two years to your country and then you went home. The warrior class then was distributive and many men remembered their service if not with fondness, at least with a wry understanding of how much they’d learned and grown in those years. It is seldom I have run across men of that generation who complained about the burden. For the most part, they were glad to have done it — to have it behind them.

That world is gone. Now our warrior class must be drawn from a shrinking population of those who believe in this country and share a common faith that it is worth defending. Those who do not share that faith also often don’t respect the motives or character of those who remain proud of their service to their country.

None of this is really new. It’s been going on for quite sometime, and the effect is cumulative. When I say the effect is cumulative, I’m speaking specifically of the issue Dymphna only grazes…that our power elites, while giving lip-service to the service and sacrifice of the warrior class, truly do not understand the ethos of that class, nor the guiding principles that motivate the warrior class, those being Duty, Honor, Country. I base this observation on what these people…our leaders…actually DO, as opposed to what they say. One can begin with their resumés and you’ll note that precious few of our leaders have actually served. There are exceptions, Thank God, but the exceptions only serve to prove the rule. Look a little deeper and you’ll find that far fewer of our leaders actually have sons or daughters that are serving today, for whatever reason. It goes back to that chasm both Kaplan and Dymphna discuss— the chasm between that separates our elites from the people that defend the nation: our warrior class.

I encountered widespread ignorance of, and contempt for, the military shortly after I retired in 1985 and went into the business world. Not in the organization I joined, I should emphasize. When I retired I went to work for Electronic Data Systems (EDS) when Ross Perot (a Boat and Barge School alumnus) still owned the company and pretty much called all the shots. Perot had an affinity for hiring retired and former (one-hitch) military types. As a matter of fact, during my interview process with EDS in Detroit (before I took the job) I met so many former Air Force Communications Command (AFCC) guys I knew from my past life that I thought AFCC had moved its headquarters to Detroit. We later took to calling the building I worked in “AFCC North.” But I digress…

So EDS was jokingly referred to as “a paramilitary organization,” most often by people who had no frickin’ clue as to why Perot liked military guys. Perot liked us because of those values I mentioned earlier… the values, the discipline, the attitude, the belief in something greater than yourself, which are all part of the territory. All of it. Stuff the Warrior Class takes for granted. Perot understood that, because he himself was a member of that Warrior Class, and he wanted people around him that shared, no, lived those values, as he did. And Perot built a damned successful business on the values of the Warrior Class. So, where am I going with this?

Ultimately, I don’t know. I want to believe the gap between the general population and the military isn’t as great as all that. But wanting to believe this, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, is foolish. Things really aren’t going to change in this country until college professors, doctors, and CEOs tell their sons to enlist, or to sign up for ROTC and accept that commission upon graduation. Until we get back to the point the Greatest Generation was at in 1941. Until people like my father are no longer the exceptions by encouraging their sons to serve, but the rule. Until we give the Warrior Class more than lip service in the form of those goddamned yellow bumper stickers and magnets. Until we believe in ourselves enough to fight.

I hope it’s not too late.

Monday, June 18, 2007

I'm Baaaack....

Suspicions confirmed:

I am nerdier than 65% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!
OK, I don’t code, can barely spell “SysAdmin,” and, like 87% of the Western World, I use a PC…not a Mac. But being nerdy goes beyond computers. And I think that’s what upped my “nerd quotient.” That, and 17 years in the IT Biz.
This week’s tempest in a teapot… Doubtless you’ve heard Queen Elizabeth knighted that bête noir of the radical Islamists, Salman Rushdie. And the usual suspects have their knickers in a twist. My language is way too dismissive, however. It’s so far over the top as to be unbelievable when a cabinet-level minister of a government, any government, endorses suicide attacks for any goddamned reason. In the West, that is. Not so in countries dominated by 7th Century political ideologies, I suppose. Here’s Captain Ed on the subject:
This points up a well-known problem among Muslims, even those considered somewhat moderate and cosmopolitan. They refuse to allow for any criticism of their faith, even from fellow Muslims. While Christians and Jews and Buddhists react to criticism with debate and protest, Muslims react with violence, usually encouraged by governments throughout Asia. Twenty years ago, it was Iran that encouraged assassins to target Rushdie, and now Pakistan has renewed the contract.
Sometimes I buy into the “clash of cultures” meme, sometimes I don’t. Today? I’m buying the whole nine yards. You simply cannot reason with idiots like these, much the same as you cannot reason with a rabid dog. You just gotta kill it.
More from the Middle Eastan interesting take on the situation in Gaza. “An Israeli in Ramallah:”
Wearing Ralph Lauren polo shirts and speaking fluent Hebrew, they told hair-raising stories of teenage boys presumed loyal to Fatah being flung from the fourteenth floor of office buildings, their hands shackled and their mouths taped shut. One man said that the Hamas fighters had behaved worse than the Nazis. All this should be taken with a grain of salt, of course: Nazi comparisons are flung around with abandon in the Middle East, and we have not heard from the Hamas fighters what the Fatah guys may or may not have done to them. The unspoken message, though, is interesting: suddenly Fatah represents the reasonable, civilized Palestinians. They speak Hebrew, they look like us and they sound like us, and Islamist militants threaten them just as they threaten Israel.
As a commenter to this piece noted… “This is better writing -- and MUCH better reporting -- than we get from The Times.” Agreed.
And finally…a condom ad that’s painfully funny.

And here’s something you’ll probably never, ever see on this blog again: the hat tip goes to LitBrit at Shakesville. Credit where credit is due, and all that. She has more condom ads posted, by the way. Just in case you might be, ya know… interested. In a strictly academic sort of way, of course. (Work safe. And pretty funny, too.)
Today’s Pic: Two scoots, taking a break beside the road in Colorado. I like this pic…a lot. The ‘Zuki looks like it’s same size as Buck’s bike, but it’s not. The fact that she’s parked about six or eight feet behind Buck’s ride conceals the fact that she’s bigger…a lot bigger. Maybe even too big.
May, 2007.

Just for Starters...

Via Chap, a story about a highly unusual, dynamic, and driven Scotsman named Rory Stewart:

In 2002 Rory Stewart walked across war-torn Afghanistan, alone and in winter. In 2004 he served as deputy governor to a province in southern Iraq. Now Stewart has returned with a heroic charge: Save the Old City of Kabul from destruction and remind a nation of its former glory.


Stewart's interest in hero figures stems back to a childhood that's absurdly precocious and doesn't seem quite real. His entire life has the feel of an Edwardian adventure novel. His father, Brian Stewart, one of a long line of self-sufficient Scottish Highlanders, fought on the beaches of Normandy before becoming deeply involved in counterinsurgency operations against guerrillas fighting the British colonial government of what is now Malaysia. He worked as a diplomat and learned seven Asian languages and dialects. Rory's mother, Sally, an economist and academic, once crossed the Hindu Kush herself, driving a jeep from London to Malaysia for a teaching position at the University of Malay. Rory grew up partly in Malaysia after being born in Hong Kong in 1973. When he and his father weren't ambling into the rain forest to build makeshift rafts and float down jungle streams, they were traveling with Sally to Dayak villages in Borneo to visit friends and stay in longhouses.

And that’s just the roots of the man’s childhood. One would expect an individual raised by educated, adventurous parents to turn out the same, and so he has. Stewart, a man who has accomplished much in his short life (“In 2002, when Stewart walked from Herat, in western Afghanistan, to Kabul, in the east, he did so mostly by himself and in the dead of winter…” and wrote a best-seller about the adventure, too), is heading up a somewhat quixotic mission to save Kabul’s Old Town.

A most intriguing read, this is. I decided to post this as a stand-alone opener to the day as I've been chasing links and reading about the amazing Mr. Stewart for the past two hours. I don't expect you to be quite as obsessive, Gentle Reader, but you could do a lot worse today than stopping to read the NatGeo the very least.