Thursday, March 30, 2006

This is a Buck's NEWS ALERT!

Hell has frozen over. Repeat: Hell has frozen over.

OK, I don't know for sure. But it must have. I'm watching Nancy Pelosi on the News Hour right now and I actually agreed with something she just said. I must be hallucinating.

It was about the competing immigration bills... Just in case you're wondering.

Just Sayin'

  1. Most things in life aren’t as bad as they seem. Or as simple.
  2. There are always more than two sides to every story.
  3. There are few problems in life that can’t be fixed with a well-placed 2,000 pound JDAM.
  4. If item three can’t fix the problem, there are always the MIRVs in North Dakota.

Good News, Bad News

Laurie over at Soldiers’ Angels New York has agreed to do an interview at Basil’s Blog. Here’s your chance to find out everything you wanted to know about Laurie but never asked… I’m working on my questions!

Best news of the day: Journalist Jill Carroll Released in Iraq. Ms. Carroll was held captive for 82 days. One wonders how an individual summons the strength to survive such an ordeal. Even though Ms. Carroll took great pains to let us know she was not mistreated in any way, the mere knowledge her captors had threatened to kill her “within 72 hours” if their demands weren’t met just had to be terrifying. Kidnappers in that part of the world have a track record of delivering on their threats. We’re all glad she’s safe.

Worst news of the day: Republicans face a deeply divisive “wedge issue” in the immigration debate. As if we needed another damned issue to divide, rather than unite us. (When I say “we,” I’m speaking of both Republicans and little “c” conservatives.) Dubya’s at a low ebb in the polls, the general perception is the war is going badly (note I said perception, not reality), Abrahamoff/Cunningham, wiretapping, and on and on. On the one side we have the rabble-rousers like Michelle Malkin and her acolytes screaming “no amnesty!” and publishing inflammatory photos from the recent, very large, demonstrations held by the “illegals” in Los Angeles, Denver, and other places. And on the other are the more moderate voices, like George Will. Mr. Will has an excellent op-ed in the WaPo today, which I’ll quote at length:

America, the only developed nation that shares a long -- 2,000-mile -- border with a Third World nation, could seal that border. East Germany showed how: walls, barbed wire, machine gun-toting border guards in towers, mine fields, large, irritable dogs. And we have modern technologies that East Germany never had: sophisticated sensors, unmanned surveillance drones, etc.

It is a melancholy fact that many of these may have to be employed along the U.S.-Mexican border. The alternatives are dangerous and disagreeable conditions for Americans residing near the border, and vigilantism. It is, however, important that Americans feel melancholy about taking such measures to frustrate immigration that usually is an entrepreneurial act: taking risks to get to America to do work most Americans spurn. As the debate about immigration policy boils, augmented border control must not be the entire agenda, lest other thorny problems be ignored, and lest America turn a scowling face to the south and, to some extent, to many immigrants already here.

Of the nation's illegal immigrants -- estimated to be at least 11 million, a cohort larger than the combined populations of 12 states -- 60 percent have been here at least five years. Most have roots in their communities. Their children born here are U.S. citizens. We are not going to take the draconian police measures necessary to deport 11 million people. They would fill 200,000 buses in a caravan stretching bumper-to-bumper from San Diego to Alaska -- where, by the way, 26,000 Latinos live. And there are no plausible incentives to get the 11 million to board the buses.

Facts, a conservative (John Adams) said, are stubborn things, and regarding immigration, true conservatives take their bearings from facts such as those in the preceding paragraph. Conservatives should want, as the president proposes, a guest worker program to supply what the U.S. economy demands -- immigrant labor for entry-level jobs. Conservatives should favor a policy of encouraging unlimited immigration by educated people with math, engineering, technology or science skills that America's education system is not sufficiently supplying.

And conservatives should favor reducing illegality by putting illegal immigrants on a path out of society's crevices and into citizenship by paying fines and back taxes and learning English. Faux conservatives absurdly call this price tag on legal status "amnesty." Actually, it would prevent the emergence of a sullen, simmering subculture of the permanently marginalized, akin to the Arab ghettos in France. The House-passed bill, making it a felony to be in the country illegally, would make 11 million people permanently ineligible for legal status. To what end? (ed: emphasis mine)

I agree with Mr. Will. They’re here. A great number of them have assimilated. They’re doing work most of us won’t do, at any wage. Those illegals who have assimilated, and those that want to assimilate, will comply with the provisions of the process laid out in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s version of an immigration law. Federal and state law enforcement agencies can then free up their resources to concentrate on those illegals who do not comply with the law. Immediate deportation of non-complying individuals would be necessary and above all, appropriate. But…First things first. No matter which immigration bill you support, the first thing that must be done is to lock down the borders. Period. We cannot continue to exacerbate the problem.

For an alternative point of view, see John Hawkins’ “13 Frequently Asked Questions About Illegal Immigration.” And Michelle Malkin, of course.

Damn. I missed it! GOP Vixen gives us the rundown on what looks to be the best South Park episode, ever. Here’s a bit:

In the episode, Kyle's dad buys a hybrid car (called a "Pious") and starts getting environmentalist ego, putting fake tickets on all the gas guzzlers. When the rest of the town gets angry at him, he decides South Park just isn't enlightened enough and moves the family to San Francisco. Stan misses Kyle and tries to lure the Braflovskis back by encouraging everyone to buy hybrids. After Stan writes and performs a "gay little song" about ecofriendliness, everybody buys hybrids. Then local weather officials freak out because South Park is becoming covered in smug generated by smug eco do-gooders. This combined with the No. 1 smug region in the nation -- San Francisco -- will soon be combining with the smug front generated by George Clooney's Oscar acceptance speech and forming a destructive smug storm.

There’s more, and it’s funny! I will not miss the re-run!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Iran, Technology, Bolten, and Birds

Iran’s been in the news quite a bit this week, and it’s only Wednesday. Here are three articles that caught my eye today. The first concerns the Ahmadinejad regime’s heavy-handed attempts to control universities. Yep, just what ya need…radical clerics in charge of the Super Madrassas universities.

Student leaders say the developments amount to a takeover of the universities by Mr Ahmadinejad's ultra-conservative forces. The campuses were hotbeds of pro-democratic protest during the presidency of the former, reformist leader, Mohammad Khatami. "They want to gain hegemonic control over the universities, which have always been important in influencing the social and political atmosphere and which normally support pro-democracy rather than authoritarian forces," said Abdollah Momeni, an activist appealing against a five-year sentence imposed for leading a student protest.

Hmmm. Student protests? A glimmer of hope. You have to admire activists in countries like Iran, because attending a protest in Tehran ain’t all about meeting some women (or men). There’s serious danger to life and limb (literally) involved.

And if you blog, be glad you’re not blogging from Tehran.

Dozens of Iranian bloggers have faced harassment by the government, been arrested for voicing opposing views, and fled the country in fear of prosecution over the past two years.

In the conservative Islamic Republic, where the government has vast control over newspapers and the airwaves, weblogs are one of the last bastions of free expression, where people can speak openly about everything from sex to the nuclear controversy.

And this really pisses me off…because Americans are involved in the suppression of free speech.

To bolster its campaign, the Iranian government has one of the most extensive and sophisticated operations to censor and filter Internet content of any country in the world — second only to China, Hopkins said.

It also is one of a growing number of Mideast countries that rely on U.S. commercial software to do the filtering, according to a 2004 study by a group called the OpenNet Initiative. The software that Iran uses blocks both internationally hosted sites in English and local sites in Farsi, the study found.

The filtering process is backed by laws that force individuals who subscribe to Internet service providers to sign a promise not to access non-Islamic sites. The same laws also force the providers to install filtering mechanisms.

Boy, I’d be in BIG trouble if the mullahs were monitoring my internet usage. So would all those moonbats who are whining about Dubya’s “fascist” state and the “American Theocracy.”

And finally (on Iran), the AP reports the UN Security Council is close to “final wording” on a resolution condemning Iran’s nuclear program.

The council has struggled for three weeks to come up with a written rebuke that would urge Iran to comply with demands from the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, that it suspend uranium enrichment.

Bolton expressed a hint of exasperation with other members of the council Tuesday, telling reporters: "We have been incredibly flexible. Incredibly flexible. I probably have never been more flexible."

Three weeks. Just to write a watered-down statement that essentially tells the mullahs to “go sit in the corner and think about what you’re doing. And when you decide to be good boys, you can come back out.” Yeah. That’ll work. (/sarcasm) I can hear the mullahs laughing from here.

We’re Number One! We’re Number One! USA! USA! Yay! Now, where’s my broadband? Full disclosure: although there’s no broadband to be had in Portales at the moment, we do have an on-going “fiber to the home” project that will be completed some time in 2007. My neighborhood is dead last on the implementation schedule, coz, ya know, there ain’t no computers in trailer parks

He's a guitar-playing, bowling-obsessed Harley rider who once dated Bo Derek. Who might that be? Why, Dubya’s new chief of staff, that’s who! “New blood,” indeed. And he ain’t from Texas, either…

The birds are back. I was awakened this morning by a chorus of birdsong. Made me smile, it did. Trees are a rarity here on the High Plains. If you see trees in the distance while you’re driving down our Lonesome Highways, you know there’s a homestead there…or the outskirts of a town. The trailer park I live in has a great number of large, established trees and as such is something of a local bird sanctuary; my RV sits right under a very large tree that’s home to probably 20 or more birds. Those first bird songs of Spring are truly welcome. But ask me about the birds next month and you’ll likely get a very different story. Why? Shit happens. All over my RV and car.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Some Days... just don't have anything to say. Well, anything meaningful. Today's one of those days.

Maybe later...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Another Week Begins...

Apple Computer will be 30 years old on April Fools Day. My, how time does fly! I’ve never been a Mac guy, but have used them…especially back in the day before Gates made the PC presentation-capable. There was a time when businesses had entire groups devoted to developing graphics and presentations on Macs while the “rest of us” used PCs in day-to-day business. And then Bill G. gave us PowerPoint and nothing was ever the same. It’s very arguable if PowerPoint represents “progress,” or not. I have very mixed emotions on that subject! Of course Apple is much more than graphics these days. I’m probably the only guy in America without an iPod, and will remain so.

Abdul Rahman, the Afghani Muslim who converted to Christianity and was threatened with a death sentence for apostasy, has had the charges against him dropped by the Afghani court that was prosecuting him. But all is not well.

Muslim clerics have threatened to incite Afghans to kill Rahman if he is freed, saying that he is clearly guilty of apostasy and deserves to die.

“Religion of peace?” You decide…

Scarlett Johanssen (“who?” he said) is supposedly the sexiest woman alive, according to FHM magazine. OK, she’s pretty, I’ll grant you that. But “sexy” is much more than looks alone. Attitude and intelligence go a helluva lot further than looks towards making a woman sexy, in my book. This woman wrote the book on sexy. And she’s not bad, either!

And finally… A follow-up to yesterday’s post about billionaires’ cars. Here’s a summary of an interview with IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad, ranked the fourth richest man in the world. Mr. Kamprad turns 80 on March 30th.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Behind Door 61...

Sixty-one. Today.

And on this day…

Significant Events

1945 - Japanese resistance ends on Iwo Jima
1951 - USAF flag approved
1953 - Jonas Salk announces his polio vaccine.
1979 - Anwar al-Sadat, Menachem Begin and Jimmy Carter sign the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty in Washington, DC


1874 - Robert Frost, poet (d. 1963)
1911 - Tennessee Williams, dramatist (d. 1983)
1914 - General William Westmoreland, United States commander during the Vietnam War
1930 - Sandra Day O'Connor, United States Supreme Court Justice
1931 - Leonard Nimoy, actor, director
1940 - Nancy Pelosi, American politician
1942 - Erica Jong, author
1943 - Bob Woodward, journalist
1944 - Diana Ross, singer
1948 - Steven Tyler, musician ("Aerosmith")

Holidays and Observances

Zoroastrianism - Prophet Zarthushtra's (Zoroaster's) Birthday

What do billionaires drive? Predictably, Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, and Porsches. Less predictably, Lincoln Town Cars and a 1993 Volvo. And yeah, a couple of American billionaires drive pick-ups. But they all live in some pretty posh houses

Seems pretty appropriate for today! A joke posted by aharamanx on the RP joke forum:

The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get in the end of it? A death. What's that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards.

You should die first, you know, start out dead, get it out of the way. You wake up in an old age home, feeling better every day. You get kicked out for being too healthy, go collect your pension, then you start work, you get a gold watch on your first day. You work 40 years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement. You drink alcohol, you party, you're generally promiscuous (hey, you've only got a few years left, what's the big deal?!?) and you get ready for High School. You go to primary school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a baby, then you spend your last 9 months floating peacefully with luxuries like central heating, spa, room service on tap, larger quarters everyday, and then you finish off as an orgasm!

And that's my philosophy on the life cycle.

I couldn’t have said it better.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Apropos of nothing, as is my wont, of late. Quite some time ago I read Dan Jenkins’ novel “Baja Oklahoma,” which was a good tale…funny, creative and full of little folk gems. One of those gems impressed me SO much I took the trouble to transcribe the list and pin it to the wall above my desk. This, of course, was in the way-way-back. But…it’s a very relevant piece of work. Here, for your illumination/edification, are Dan Jenkins’ “Ten Stages of Drunkenness:”

1. Witty and Charming
2. Rich and Powerful
3. Benevolent
4. Clairvoyant
5. Fuck Dinner
6. Patriotic
7. Crank up the Enola Gay
8. Witty and Charming, Part II
9. Invisible
10. Bulletproof

I don’t believe I’ve ever made it to “Bulletproof.” Evidence of that fact is: I’m still alive. I have, however, been “Witty and Charming, Part II” on a few occasions and “Invisible” once or twice. The most common state I arrived at was Number Four and perhaps Five…achieved nearly every Friday night whilst I was living in SFO. Ah, nostalgia!

I do not believe in any of the alternative metaphysical disciplines, such as tarot, the I Ching, any form of astrology, etc. That said, I’ve been known to check my horoscope occasionally back in the day when I still subscribed to a newspaper. And I’ll occasionally google something of a metaphysical nature, more out of curiosity than anything else. Today I googled “numerology” and came up with some pretty interesting stuff. There are multiple “cycles” in a life, if one believes in this sort of thing. You need to know your “Life Path,” which is calculated based on your birth day. My life path is 3, and my fourth and final pinnacle cycle began at age 51. Here are the descriptions of my "Period" cycles:

Your First Period Cycle is 3:

You were born in March.
A time of heightened self expression and much social support. Any ability you possess in the arts, especially in writing, acting, or dance, will be brought to new heights and meet with much reward. You are socially active as never before. You will appear to others as charming, attractive, even charismatic. Be careful not to waste your energies on too many superficial projects or relationships, however. The time requires discipline and focus in order to make the most of the great upward energy that is filling your life.

Your Second Period Cycle is 8:

You were born on the 8th or 26th day of the month.
You are under an extremely benevolent period for work, career, and financial reward. The key is hard work and the willingness to rededicate yourself after setbacks or difficulties. You will have greatly enhanced abilities as a manager, organizer, and financial planner. You have a gift for seeing the broad picture and carrying out bold plans. You can gain financial freedom during this period. Business and career activities go well, but require much attention and commitment. You are being pushed to take control of your career or enterprise and bring it to new heights. It is a time when power falls to you, but must be used wisely and with purpose.

Your Third Period Cycle is 1:

You were born in one of the following years:
1918 - 1927 - 1936 - 1945 - 1954 - 1963 - 1972 - 1981 - 1990 - 1999

This a period of much intensity. It requires fortitude, courage, and flexibility. You will be forced to use every one of your talents in order to achieve your own personal individuality and independence. This is a period of integration and a focusing on your life's dream. Your grip on your direction will be tested, but somehow the resources are available to overcome any obstacle and emerge from this time all the stronger. It is a time requiring independence, resilience, and strength, but these characteristics become integral part of your personality. This cycle marks a time of progress.

And then there are “Pinnacle Cycles.” According to the calculations I made, and the Life Path number I arrived at, my fourth and final Pinnacle Cycle began at age 51. The cycles are grouped like this: Your Life Path is 3 (Cycle 1) age 0 - 33 (2) age 33 - 42 (3) age 42 - 51 (4 – last) age 51 >† And here’s what I got for my fourth Pinnacle Cycle:

This is a Pinnacle of hard work and many rewards. You have the opportunity to build a foundation that will last. Your abilities as an organizer, manager, or simply the rock of any institution are greatly increased. You are dependable and reliable. Your ability to fulfill responsibilities is likewise enhanced.

As a result of your industry and perseverance, success is well within your reach. It is a step-by-step process in which you build something by small bricks laid one after another.
You will find yourself caring for others in a very material way. Family and in-laws can be burdensome, since you are seen as the cornerstone of the foundation.

Your life is preoccupied with details and responsibilities that must be taken care of. You have set in motion projects that are your children, demanding your constant attention. While there are many rewards, there are also many frustrations. Your sense of your own limits and the consuming nature of details may at times seem overwhelming.

You must remember that things that last require slow growth. You may mistakenly believe that your progress should be faster, or happen with greater ease.
The need for efficiency, orderliness, and methodical systems limit your creativity.
Your challenge is to be flexible and adaptable. Learn to play more and allow yourself to be more spontaneous.

Children born under this Pinnacle will tend to be serious and affected by the financial limitations of their parents. The child may feel the need to leave home early and start a family of his own. He or she must be encouraged to be more farsighted and flexible. The child should avoid jumping into the harsh realities of life too soon.

I don’t know what to make of all of this. It’s interesting, I suppose, and like most of the metaphysical things I’ve explored in a very superficial way, some things are true, and some are not. I think these things are structured in a purposely vague way; you construct “truth” based upon a set of generalities that could apply to nearly anyone. Yet all these methods bill themselves as being very specific. Go figure…

You can work up your own Numerology reading here.

Friday, March 24, 2006

It's That Time

It’s a biennial thing: the physical exam. I like to do it sometime during my birth month because associating the requirement with a “known date” makes it easy to remember and all that. So it was out to the base hospital clinic today for the first of at least three visits, i.e., initial exam, lab work, results. My Primary Care Physician was recently reassigned, so I got to meet my new Primary Care Guy today, a young captain. Emphasis on “young.” One of the things that continually mystifies and amuses me about aging is the fact that nearly all the authority figures I encounter these days are young enough to be my kids. Gives one pause, it does.

But, back to the matter at hand. My new doctor seems to be a nice guy; he asked all the right questions, has a good bedside manner, in other words, all the right stuff. After our initial interview was over and he was getting ready to leave the exam room he looks at me and says “You know, you sure don’t look 61!” My response was a simple “thank you.” What else can you say? I appreciate it when folks say things like this, even though I know in most cases it’s just polite conversation. But anyway, I thought about this comment all the way home today, considering things such as “what’s a 61 year-old guy supposed to look like?” and “I’m not really 61, not for a couple of few days, at least” and finally decided it was only polite conversation, after all. I mean, I do have a mirror or two. And the damned things just don’t lie.

Advice, Bad and Otherwise

Brian Lamb, founder, CEO, and Friday host of C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, spent a lot of time this morning on Sally Quinn’s Open Letter to Laura Bush (From Her Lips to His Ear), published in this morning’s WaPo. By “a lot of time,” I mean he read the whole article to C-SPAN’s Washington Journal audience and solicited calls from folks who had an opinion on the subject. And, of course, everyone has an opinion since the subject is “How to Fix the Bush Administration.”

I’m not sure what Ms. Quinn’s bona fides are, other than being a former reporter and columnist for the WaPo, a Dee-See hostess of note, and the wife of Ben Bradlee, former editor and current VP of the WaPo. Here are three paragraphs from Ms. Quinn’s missive:

The biggest problem your husband has now is that so many top Republicans have turned against him. Without the support of his own party, it's pretty much impossible for him to run the country. After the way they went after him over the Dubai ports deal, you can imagine what they are saying about him privately.

Incompetent, unrealistic and insincere were a few of the words circulating at a private dinner recently. Referring to the president's refusal to seek advice on anything -- the war, the economy, foreign policy -- one of the most prominent Republicans in Washington called the situation so dire that he feared "the country would fall apart with another three years of this."

"They don't listen to anybody," said another prominent Republican who was close to the first President Bush. (emphasis mine)

OK, so what we have here is second-hand dinner party gossip? Invite a few senators, representatives, and lobbyists to dinner, listen to them bitch, then pass on the complaints as “advice?” And advise Ms. Quinn does, offering up nine more-or-less specific items Mrs. Bush should pass on to the President. Unfortunately, there’s no ground-breaking advice here, only a repetition of the current memes circulating in Washington: get some “new blood” in the White House and/or cabinet, listen to other viewpoints, fire Rumsfeld, etc. What makes Ms. Quinn believe the President hasn’t considered these options? And what makes her think the administration doesn’t entertain viewpoints other than their own (besides bitching and complaining from disaffected persons who fear their sage advice is being ignored)? I think Ms. Quinn should stick to giving swell dinner parties and leave political advice to those qualified to give it.

In other words: Don’t do it, Laura. I think your man knows what he’s doing.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

It's Better Today

But Oy! yesterday was a miserable day. It began with the darkest of gray overcasts imaginable, coupled with bone chilling cold, wind, and humidity. When I say “dark overcast,” think “lights on all day.” It was that dark. And it was all downhill from there. By 1330 we had freezing drizzle, which turned to sleet, then to snow in the late afternoon. Our high temp was something like 38 or 39. Brrr. As far as the snow goes, we didn’t get much of an accumulation, perhaps a half-inch or so, just enough to turn the brown grass white and make the streets slick and icy. It’s all gone now, but was still on the ground when I woke up this morning. It’s gonna be warmer today (51), still warmer Friday (mid-60s), and warmer still by the weekend. The sun will be reappearing today, too. I don’t think I could cut it any longer in The Great White North, if my reaction to yesterday’s weather is any indication. Or perhaps my mood was just a normal response to winter’s last blast; that last-gasp seems to happen every year, don’t it?

Yesterday’s Song of the Day

Song: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Neil Young
Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
Year: 1969
Source: Radio Paradise.

Makes Me Think of & etc.: A very small coffee shop in Mushashi-Koganei (Tokyo), Japan, 1975. Most Japanese coffee shops have very good music systems and a large collection of music (at the time, probably still true). The coffee shops tend to specialize in their music; there are jazz shops, country, folk, rock, etc., etc. A few are what we’d call eclectic, playing a wide mix of music. The staff takes requests from the patrons, and the normal practice was to play one side of a requested album and then move on to the next request. TSMP and I requested side one of EKTIN every time we went into that shop. It got to the point the help would routinely drag the album out and put it in the queue, if the place was busy, without being asked. If the shop wasn’t busy, they’d put the album on immediately, with smiles all around. I can never listen to this album, or this song, without thinking of that place and time…


I think I'd like to go back home, and take it easy
There's a woman that I'd like to get to know livin' there
Everybody seems to wonder, what it's like down here
I gotta get away from this day to day runnin' around
Everybody knows this is nowhere
Everybody, everybody knows, everybody knows

Every time I think about back home, it's cool and breezy
I wish that I could be there right now, just passin' time
Everybody seems to wonder, what it's like down here
I gotta get away from this day to day runnin' around
Everybody knows this is nowhere
Everybody, everybody knows, everybody knows

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Three Things

That the Arab world is dysfunctional is almost a given if you’ve done any casual reading on the subject, a certainty if you’ve read seriously. Just how broken things really are and the impact of this phenomenon on the War on Terror is the subject of a speech I stumbled on last evening. The speech, given by Haim Harari, a theoretical physicist, is required reading if you wish to understand what the West is up against in the war with radical Islam. Mr. Harari lays some groundwork with the following observations:

The root of the trouble is that this entire Moslem region is totally dysfunctional, by any standard of the word, and would have been so even if Israel would have joined the Arab league and an independent Palestine would have existed for 100 years. The 22 member countries of the Arab league, from Mauritania to the Gulf States, have a total population of 300 millions, larger than the US and almost as large as the EU before its expansion. They have a land area larger than either the US or all of Europe. These 22 countries, with all their oil and natural resources, have a combined GDP smaller than that of Netherlands plus Belgium and equal to half of the GDP of California alone. Within this meager GDP, the gaps between rich and poor are beyond belief and too many of the rich made their money not by succeeding in business, but by being corrupt rulers. The social status of women is far below what it was in the Western World 150 years ago. Human rights are below any reasonable standard, in spite of the grotesque fact that Libya was elected Chair of the UN Human Rights commission. According to a report prepared by a committee of Arab intellectuals and published under the auspices of the U.N., the number of books translated by the entire Arab world is much smaller than what little Greece alone translates. The total number of scientific publications of 300 million Arabs is less than that of 6 million Israelis. Birth rates in the region are very high, increasing the poverty, the social gaps and the cultural decline. And all of this is happening in a region, which only 30 years ago, was believed to be the next wealthy part of the world, and in a Moslem area, which developed, at some point in history, one of the most advanced cultures in the world.

That’s just groundwork. He goes on to describe how radical Islam fights its war, and what we must do to win. And have no doubt, this is war. Read the whole thing.

On a lighter note: Need a cheering section? Click here and follow the instructions! (h/t: Rodger)

Feeling introspective? Here’s another one of those internet personality tests, but this one is a lot more “in depth” than most, given that it’s ten pages of questions. Don’t let the ten pages bit put you off, you can answer the questions in about a minute or less per page. I’m a sucker for these sorts of things, so I took the test. I pretty much agree with the results, although I don’t like the label the test designers assign to people who test like I do, i.e., “Independent Leader.” I suppose “Independent Leader” is more PC than “Over-Confident Recluse with no Aesthetic Sense Whatsoever.” I’ve been called worse.

You can take the test here. And if you’re interested, you can view my results here. I’d be interested in hearing about your results…either in the comments or on your blog, whatever works for you. (h/t: Bookworm, at her old site.)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Military 2005 "Year in Review" Presentations

The services have put together "2005 Year in Review" presentations which are, for the most part, quite good.
Air Force (click “Year in Photos” in right sidebar)
I couldn’t find a “Year in Review” for the Marines. If any of you know of such a video, slide show, or PowerPoint presentation, please let me know!
The best of the three? For sheer visual impact and quality of photos: Navy. Runner-up and great total impact: Army. The Army's use of the Bob Seger song “Like a Rock” for the soundtrack helped a lot. The USAF presentation was dead last, and is simply a bunch of press release photos cobbled together. The music loop is uninspiring, to be very kind. I could have done better sitting right here in Portales, sad to say.
Hat tip to Lex, his posting of the Navy slideshow got me started, his commenter Were-Kitten provided the link for the Army presentation.

Tuesday Wrap...

Made my semi-monthly “big shopping” run out to the base today and refilled the larder. As is usual after a re-supply mission, I got motivated by all this fresh food in El Casa Móvil de Pennington and cooked, rather than nuked, dinner this evening. I browned a couple of pork chops in bacon grease, seasoned with rosemary and basil, smothered them in German sauerkraut (brand: Schaller and Weber), and simmered same for about a half hour. Added some parsleyed potatoes and a can of corn, made a large salad, and dinner was served. Quite good, actually. All it lacked was compliments, other than my own.

About that salad: I have a product recommendation for you. If your local grocery store carries the “Newman’s Own Organics” brand of bagged salads, try the Herb Salad variety. The contents are many and varied: Red Romaine, Tango, Lollo Rosa, Arugula, Red Leaf, Green Romaine, Little Gem, Mizuna, Tat Soi, Green Chard, Red Chard, Red Mustard, Red Oak, Green Oak, Frisee, Radicchio, Parsley, and Dill. I have NO idea what half of this stuff is (and neither does MS-Word, flagging about a third of the ingredients as misspelled words), but it sure is tasty! Each ingredient’s name, save the parsley and dill, is preceded by “Organic Baby…,” which gets rather redundant. I get the point: it’s organic, all of it. Small quibble. Big taste.

Further to the Newman brand… I normally don’t buy anything labeled “organic,” for a couple of reasons. First, organic anything is usually more expensive, often times twice the price of “normal” products. Second, I have philosophical objections to the whole “organic” movement, associating the movement’s proponents with tree-hugging, holier-than-thou types that probably voted for AlGore in droves. I’m more of a “Better Living Through Chemistry” kinda guy. I’ll make an exception every once in a while, thus “Newman’s Own Organics” landed on my dinner table this evening. When it comes to organics, your mileage may vary, of course.

I love bagged salads. I’ll admit they are expensive, but consider the alternative. I’d spend a helluva lot more if I were to buy each individual item listed above, assuming I could even find them, and then make my salad. And that doesn’t consider waste, either. I threw out an awful lot of wilted lettuce and other sorts of moldy veggies prior to bagged salads coming on the market. So I think it’s a wash when it comes to the economics. And I love the convenience!

I was somewhat disappointed when I arrived and departed the base today. For at least the second, and probably the third, time I’ve gone out to Cannon my timing has been off. No flying activity. I really enjoy watching the jets take off and land, but it wasn’t to be today. Oh, well. Next time.

With Friends Like These…

I always find these sorts of blog posts interesting. You’re probably aware that there were numerous anti-war protests scheduled for yesterday’s third anniversary of the Iraq war. I’m gratified to report the protests were largely a bust; attendance was abysmally low in all cases. “Low,” of course, is a relative term. In this case I use “low” as measured against the turn-out for anti-war protests held on past anniversaries. At any rate, Michelle Malkin has photos from the Washington, D.C. protest and links to folks that attended protests held in other cities.

Zombie in San Francisco deserves special mention as there are MANY excellent photos from the SFO demonstration; I cribbed the picture of this Code Pink Moonbat woman from Zombie. Do go look. Doesn’t this just make you wonder what the HELL is wrong with these people? I just shook my head slowly from side to side as I looked at these photos, remembering exactly why I left SFO.

Monday, March 20, 2006


It’s Spring! Three cheers, and all that. The ornamental cherry tree outside my window has burst into bloom, right on cue. I should post pictures of those exquisite little pink blooms, but I won’t (today) for reasons that will become clear in a moment. Still, and even, Winter doesn’t feel like giving up just yet. A serious cold front is in the process of moving on to The High Plains, bringing that Ol’ Debbil Wind back with it, in Spades (steady 35 mph, gusting to 44 mph). Our high today will only be 50 degrees, and it’s gonna fall to 21 or so this evening. Tomorrow ain’t supposed to be much better, either.

On the Good News front: last night we got a little over three hours of steady rain that was quite heavy at times. We really needed that rain. When the wind woke me up this morning I was thankful for the rain, as the wind shouldn’t be able to raise a lot of dust on wet ground. Silly me. I’m not sure just how Mom Nature manages to pull off a trick such as this, but she has, indeed. There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of dust in this part of the country. We must be The Strategic Dust Reserve for the entire free world. Just sayin’.

Gerard van der Leun has a couple of good reads over at American Digest. Gerard has, as a public service, developed a generic apology he suggests you print out and keep on your person for those times that require an apology. And he’s written a great essay on why gay marriage is all but inevitable, along with some timely suggestions of which you should take note. Hint: caterers and interior decorators are going to be in short supply pretty soon. Get in now.

Today is also the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Donald Rumsfeld had an Op-Ed in the WaPo yesterday titled “What We’ve Gained in Three Years in Iraq.” The lead paragraphs:

Some have described the situation in Iraq as a tightening noose, noting that "time is not on our side"and that "morale is down." Others have described a "very dangerous" turn of events and are "extremely concerned."

Who are they that have expressed these concerns? In fact, these are the exact words of terrorists discussing Iraq -- Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his associates -- who are describing their own situation and must be watching with fear the progress that Iraq has made over the past three years.

The terrorists seem to recognize that they are losing in Iraq. I believe that history will show that to be the case.

While Rumsfeld doesn’t break any new ground in this piece, he does cite the considerable progress made “on the ground.” I believe we need to make a lot more, highly visible, progress to turn “public opinion” around. Americans just don’t seem to have the stomach for long wars, and my feeling is our collective patience is quite near the breaking point. Time is not on our side in this one. And neither, apparently, are The Media or “the loyal opposition.” Once again, just sayin’.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Didja Ever Wonder...

…how much our troops are paid to do what they do? Well, here is what your average trigger-puller and his boss makes, courtesy of our benevolent Uncle Sam. "Over 3" means over three years service. Military personnel in combat zones are exempt from Federal income tax (state tax, too, I'm sure). And just for comparison’s sake, the last of the columns below show you what I made as an Air Force Buck Sergeant (E-4) in 1967.

(And please note: I had a bee-yotch of a time trying to import MS-Word tables into Blogger. I finally converted the table to text and manually inserted the required tabs and spaces to make this semi-intelligible. Gomen-nasai, ne?)

E-4 (Monthly, "Over 3")
(USA: Corporal/Specialist 4,
USMC: Corporal,
USAF: Senior Airman, USN: PO3)
Base Pay $1,842.60
Housing Allowance (w/dependents) $574.20
Subsistence $272.26
Hostile Fire Pay $225.00
Total Monthly $2,914.06
Total (Annual) $34,968.72

Other (Monthly)
Family Separation Allowance $250.00
Sea Pay (USN) $280.00

O-3 (Monthly, "Over 3")
(USA, USMC, USAF: Captain;
USN: Lt.)
Base Pay $3,941.70
Housing Allowance (w/dependents) $904.50
Subsistence $187.49
Hostile Fire Pay $225.00
Total Monthly $5,258.69
Total (Annual) $63,104.28

Other (Monthly)
Flight Pay (All Services) $188.00
Sea Pay (USN) $210.00
Family Separation Allowance $250.00

1967 Pay Scale, E-4, "Over 3"
Base Pay $222.90
Housing Allowance (w/dependents) $83.10
Subsistence $77.10
Total (Monthly) $383.10
Total (Annual) $4,597.20

Annual Total in 2005 Dollars $26,912.49

1. Military pay data from the Defense Accounting and Finance Service
2. The 1967-to-2005 dollar conversions were made using “How Much Is That Worth Today?

The bottom line, however, is the money ain’t near enough, now, is it?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Dr. Wolfowitz

Paul Wolfowitz is one of those guys the Left loves to hate, one of the founders of the Neo-conservative movement, and perhaps the stereotypical neo-con as far as the Left is concerned. Formerly one of Rumsfeld’s right-hand men when he was at the Defense Department, Dr. Wolfowitz moved on last year to become president of the World Bank. But Dr. Wolfowitz is still involved in DoD affairs, and in a way you might not expect. Kathleen Parker, in “What You Don't Hear About Dr. Wolfowitz,” tells us.

Americans have heard much about coffins returning from Iraq without media coverage; they've heard about military funerals unattended by the commander in chief; they've also heard endlessly about a certain military mother who lost a son in Iraq.

What they don't hear much about are the quiet events and private meetings that often take place in the Oval Office between President George W. Bush and military families. Or the Friday-night steak dinners local restaurateurs throw for wounded vets from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

I also noticed a couple of suits by the door wearing wires.

I introduced myself and asked who in the room required security. They weren't in the mood to say, apparently, but suggested that I'd probably be able to figure it out. In a room full of camouflage and amputees, it was easy to spot a man in a dark suit casually grasping a Corona neck. I wandered over to the group surrounding him and listened as Isaac Serna, a 21-year-old Humvee gunner, described how he had been wounded.

The man in business attire was Dr. Paul Wolfowitz, former deputy defense secretary and now head of the World Bank. Wolfowitz listened intently, asked a few questions, then joined Serna and others for a group photo. And so the evening went, with the former deputy quietly making the rounds -- listening and shaking hands -- and lingering for a while after the wounded were headed back to Walter Reed.

Read the whole thing. You just have to admire people, especially powerful people, who simply do the right thing without any fanfare whatsoever. Can you imagine someone like, say Hillary or AlGore, doing something…anything…like this without a press release and a gaggle of photographers at hand to capture every poignant and sympathetic moment? Nah, neither can I.

Old Computer Tech and a War Story

Lileks has some great old computer advertising promotional photos from the ‘60s and ‘70s here. Browsing through those old photos made me a bit nostalgic for the old USAF Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, the nation’s air defense system from 1963 until 1983. (More on SAGE, including some pretty cool old photos, here. Click on the “SAGE” links in the left hand sidebar.) I enlisted in the AF in 1963 and spent almost half of my life working in the SAGE system, albeit on the sensor (radar) end, not the computing end. Here’s a thumbnail description of SAGE:

By the time the system was fully deployed in 1963, according to MITRE, "the 24 SAGE Direction Centers and three SAGE Combat Centers were spread throughout the U.S. Each was linked by long-distance telephone lines to more than 100 interoperating air defense elements, requiring system integration on a scale previously unimagined. At the heart of each center was a new large-scale digital computer that had evolved from MIT's experimental Whirlwind computer of the 1950's. The largest real-time computer program of that time, it automated information flow, processed and presented data to 100 operator stations, and provided control information to the weapons systems. This processed information, including aircraft tracks and identification, was presented to operators on a cathode ray tube -- one of the first uses of this device to display computer-generated data." Each Center was built around a huge A/N FSQ-7 computer with 60,000 vacuum tubes requiring 3 megawatts of power and running the largest computer program written up to that time, with 500,000 lines of code. This program used an area in system memory called COMPOOL that could be shared by several subroutines. This would become one of the founding concepts for the COBOL computer language. The communications devices from Burroughs allowed each center to communicate with other centers, creating one of the first practical computer networks.

The air defense of the entire United States and Canada was based on a network of 22 “Direction Center” computers, each of which ran mere 500,000 lines of code. Your desktop machine has 40 million lines of code in its operating system, assuming you’re running Windows XP. We’ve come a long way, Baby! (h/t: Lex)

If you followed that “here” link above, you’ll note the main page has a photo of an F-102 superimposed on a radar tower, with a clickable link called “Bubble Check.” Click that link! The pilot that wrote that piece describes the bubble checks he performed while up in Alaska, and maintains that USAF pilots only did that sort of thing at remote sites where the possibility of civilian complaints was low to non-existent.


I got the living BeJeebus scared out of me while at Lompoc AFS in the mid-60s by an F-101 pilot out of Oxnard AFB pulling an unannounced bubble check. Just to be clear, bubble checks had at least two purposes: one was to impress and entertain the troops at the radar sites, the second was to express displeasure with ground controllers who screwed up intercept vectors, causing the fighter jock to miss an intercept on an in-bound target. When the latter scenario happened, said displeased fighter jock would buzz the ground control intercept site, unannounced, usually lighting off the afterburner(s) in the process, which caused a helluva lot of racket and startled everyone within a couple thousand yards. Point made, and all that.

So, there I was, about 60 feet off the ground at the very top of the antenna of an AN/FPS-6 height finder radar which was situated on the edge of the “hill” the radar site was located on. Or, to put it another way, the radar tower overlooked a valley that was at least a couple of thousand feet wide and several hundred feet deep, the point being one could fly an aircraft through that valley and be beneath the elevation of the radar station. It was a fairly warm and clear summer’s day and I was inspecting the antenna for cracks, a normal preventive maintenance routine. I caught a flash and a glint out of the corner of my eye, turned and looked over my shoulder and DOWN, right into the cockpit of an F-101 doing about 600 mph, 90 degrees to the ground, a mere 150 feet or less from my poor frail body. The pilot lit off the afterburners just as I caught the flash of the aircraft as it sped by and the entire antenna—including me, holding on for dear life—was rocked by a thunderous KA-BOOM-BOOM! The pilot stood that 101 on its tail as it passed over the search radar tower and shot straight up into the sky, disappearing in a matter of seconds. As for me, I was left completely shaken, clinging to that antenna with a veritable death-grip. I was damned lucky I didn’t have to go home and change my pants after that event. And it took me about ten minutes or more to gain enough composure to climb down from the antenna. Bubble checks are impressive, indeed. Scary, too.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Just a Few Things...

You aviation buffs will want to go see Instapinch’s narrative and photos of the last mass F-14 homecoming at Oceana NAS. The Navy is retiring the F-14 in September of this year. Some are quite sad about this, some aren’t. (Via Lex)

Mother Sheehan’s Fractured Fairy Tales of the Liberal Left. “Nauseating” is all I can say, or perhaps “an Alternate Reality, indeed.” Via Mudville…please read the whole post on counter-demonstration activities at the Landstuhl military hospital in Germany, complete with still more unbelievable links to Moonbat sites.

Bad news for the Bad Guys…again. Operation Swarmer is all over the cable news channels this morning. From FNC’s web site:

Coalition forces have dubbed the assault "Operation Swarmer," which is an operation consisting of about 1,500 soldiers in all, including the Iraqi Army's 1st Brigade, 4th Division, the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team and the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade.

I tried to access CENTCOM’s site and get a link to the official press release but couldn’t, the connection timed out before I got there. All I can do is speculate the site’s being hammered today by folks like me looking for the official story. More’s the pity, but I know how these things go. You don’t engineer a site or its network connections for peak traffic. When the whole world beats a path to your internet door, stuff breaks. Happens all the time.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Well, THAT was a Wasted Trip!

I sustained my motivation and was out the door this morning at 0800, headed for Lubbock. Stopped off in Muleshoe, Texas for breakfast (about 25 miles from P-Town) and then continued on to Lubbock. Light traffic, no fires in sight…all in all a good drive.

Arrived at the Cingular store in Lubbock, picked out a phone, settled on a plan, and got ready to do the deal. The store rep had already asked me if I currently had Cingular service, and I said “yes.” He begins filling out the contract form, and the first thing he asked for was my phone number. I duly began the litany:

Me: “415…”
Rep: “Excuse me? Where is the 415 Area Code?”
Me: San Francisco
Rep: “Uh, I can’t sell you a phone, because I can’t access your account.”
Me: What? You can’t access my account!?! Why? This IS a Cingular store, right?”
Rep: “Yes, but company privacy rules don’t allow us to access your account unless you’re in our authorized area.”
Me: “Not to malign your company, but that’s STUPID! I own the account, I want to buy a phone, and I want to roll-over my AT&T contract to a new Cingular contract! And you’re telling me you can’t DO that?”
Rep: “Uh, yeah, uh…” followed by much hemming and hawing.

It was all down hill from there, lemmee tell ya. I thought we had a work-around if I got new service with a Lubbock phone number, which I didn’t really want to do, but would do if I absolutely had to. Which it looked like I did, if I wanted a new phone. Then the rep dropped the absolute deal-killer on me: All Cingular contracts stipulate at least half of your air time has to be in the Cingular system, otherwise they reserve the right to unilaterally cancel your contract. I can’t do that. So I bought a new battery for my phone and walked out, thoroughly disgusted.

Then it was over to the Mazda store, where I find they only have one new Miata available for test drives and it’s being driven by the Business Manager, and she’s not in the office today. Besides that, they only had two Miatas on the lot, period. All that made it pretty easy to maintain my sales resistance, so I’m thankful in a small, very small, way. I did sit in one, however. The new Miatas have a bit more room inside than mine and generally appear slightly larger in all respects. And there are a lot of cool new features plus 20% more horsepower. More horsepower is always good! But the Green Hornet has one outstanding virtue the new Miatas don’t have: it’s paid for.

So, I’m back home and may or may not have a bad phone, still. I have to wait and see if the new battery solves the “sudden phone death” issue. If it doesn’t I may have to get local cell service, and that is REALLY gonna suck. It might be the straw that makes me move on down the road, to mix a metaphor. Who’d a thunk it?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

It’s Always SOMETHING…

And today it was my cell phone. The thing has been dying a slow death. I’ve known this for over a month now and have been in denial. Today it pretty much gave up the ghost, going black in the middle of three phone calls. It just quits, no warning, no plaintive beep, no “help me, help me” in a little fly-voice. I suppose I should realize that any device that’s been powered-on for two and a half years straight is going to die sooner rather than later. But still, I’m not pleased. Am I the only guy in the world that expects stuff to last forever? Apparently so.

So, it’s off to Lubbock tomorrow to buy a new phone, and a new rate-plan from Cingular, too. Checked out their web site this evening to get the address of the Cingular store in Lubbock, browse the available phones, and in so doing I found out I have to “upgrade” my plan as I am a former AT&T customer. Cingular bought AT&T a year or so ago, as I remember, probably longer.

I’ll probably swing by the Mazda store while I’m in Lubbock and test-drive a new Miata (there isn’t a Mazda dealer in P-Town or The Big(ger) CityTM). I’m already doing those Zen sales-resistance exercises. I will not buy a new car tomorrow. I will not buy a new car tomorrow. I will NOT buy a… It’s a mantra, ya know.

I’ve been meaning to mention this for a couple of weeks now, but haven’t. A Holiday Inn Express opened up across the street from me a couple of weeks ago and I notice they’re doing some pretty good business. I haven’t noticed the folks in Portales getting any smarter as a result, but rumor has it you have to actually stay in one to get smarter. Just having one in Portales doesn’t raise the collective IQ of the town, apparently. Maybe I’ll book a room over there about once a month and see if I get any wiser. One can always hope. On the other hand, it would be nice just to soak in a hot bath, something I haven’t done in nearly a year. You give up little luxuries when you opt for a mobile life.

Lots of coverage on the Texas Panhandle’s wild fires on the tube today. Both Fox News and The WX Channel had fairly extensive pieces on the fires. The maps seem to show a couple of fires between here and Lubbock. We’ll see tomorrow.

And finally… After all that going-on I did yesterday about watching the sun come up from the “proper” perspective, I turned right around and blew it. I took a nap yesterday afternoon when I got home and slept until 9:00 or so last evening. And then stayed up until 0500 this morning. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever get this sleep thing back to “normal.” Whatever that is.

Monday, March 13, 2006

SN2's New Ride...

And this is the view you'll most likely get if you happen to catch Son Number Two in his new silver with black top Miata. Sam got a great deal on an unsold 2005 Miata, paying about $2,500.00 less than I paid for the Green Hornet five years ago. Six-speed and all.

So Clovis, aka The Big(ger) CityTM, is still there. I left Portales around noon today after running a couple of errands, and even though it was only 55 degrees or so I drove the 11 miles over to The Big(ger) City with the top down. And froze. I made the return trip with the top up. Fool me once, etc. I think 60 degrees is about my limit for top-down driving although I have had …uh... less than intelligent… moments where I’ve motored al fresco in temps under 50 degrees. But I was dressed for it. And then there’s motorcycles, and I’ll admit to riding in temps way below 40 degrees, but then again, I was dressed for it. And that was a long time ago, too. It’ll be a good while (like: never) before I ride a bike in less than 65 degree temps. Old age and discomfort just don’t go well together. At all.
Song of the Day
Song: ALL of ‘em
Rolling Stones
Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out (alternate review)
Year: 1970
Source: My Stuff.
Makes Me Think of & etc.: This is, without a single doubt, the best live album ever made. Ever. Recording technology may have improved a lot since 1970, artists come and artists go, but this album remains a classic, a landmark, a (insert superlative here). The Stones haven’t done better, before or since. This particular incarnation of the Stones, with Mick Taylor on lead guitar, is the band’s apogee, IMHO. And the perfect soundtrack for a chilly 80 mph blast over to The Big(ger) City and back. “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll,” indeed.
Lyrics: (Sympathy for the Devil)
Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
I've been around for a long long year stolen many man's soul and faith
I was around when Jesus Christ had His moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate washed his hands and sealed His fate
Pleased to meet you hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you is the nature of my game

Stuck around St. Petersburg when I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the Tzar and his ministers, Anastasia screamed in vain
I rode a tank held a gen'rals rank when the blitzkrieg
raged and the bodies stank
Pleased to meet you hope you guess my name. Oh yeah
Ah what's puzzling you is the nature of my game. Oh yeah

I watched the glee while your kings and queens fought for
ten decades for the Gods they made
I shouted out "Who killed the Kennedy's?" when after all
it was you and me
Let me please introduce myself I'm a man of wealth and taste
And I lay traps for troubadors who get killed before they reach Bombay
Pleased to meet you hope you guess my name. Oh yeah
But what's puzzling you is the nature of my game. Oh yeah
Pleased to meet you hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you is the nature of my game

Just as every cop is a criminal and all the sinners, Saints
as heads is tails, just call me Lucifer 'cause I'm in need
of some restraint
So if you meet me, have some courtesy have some sympathy
and some taste
Use all your well learned politesse or I'll lay your soul to waste
Pleased to meet you hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you is the nature of my game

All Y'All Get Back to Work, the Weekend's Over!

Heh. Don’t mind me. But get back to work.
Well, now. Here’s a switch: I watched the sun come up this morning from the “proper” perspective, meaning I got up early this morning instead of watching the sun come up and then heading off to bed. I like this view a lot better, actually. Today is clear, cold, and calm (relatively speaking). Our forecast is for winds in the 10 – 20 mph range, which is normal for this part of the world. I’m very glad the winds have abated. I think I’ll celebrate by cruising over to The Big(ger) CityTM later this morning to see what’s going on.
The lead item in today’s Washington Times:
Sen. Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, who is widely thought to be pursuing the Democratic presidential nomination for 2008, will introduce a Senate resolution today to censure President Bush for authorizing the wiretapping of telephone conversations of suspected terrorists.

In the House, Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, will ask for the formation of a committee to investigate whether the president should be impeached.

Neither effort is expected to succeed. Republicans, who hold a 55 to 44 majority in the Senate and a 31-seat margin in House, called the attempt "grandstanding" and "crazy."
Crazy it might be, but I feel there’s a genuine possibility the Dems will move to impeach the President should they gain control of the House this Fall. And the Dems gaining control of the House is a very real threat, given the behavior of the Republicans in Congress and the mood of the public at this point. The polls certainly don’t look good for the Republicans, but then again, that all depends on how much credence you give to polls. Politicians certainly seem to believe in the damned things, I take ‘em with a grain of salt. As for Conyers? I don’t take him seriously; after all, Conyers wanted to impeach both Reagan and Bush 41. How Uncle John manages to return to Congress year after year is one of the great political mysteries of our times, as far as I’m concerned. I’d be embarrassed to have him represent me if I lived in Michigan’s 14th congressional district. But I don’t live there. Thank God.
The wild fires continue in our part of the world, both in Texas and New Mexico. Authorities in New Mexico cited both persistent drought and this weekend’s high winds as the prime movers behind the wild fires. (There’s a reason I complain about the damned wind, ya know!) The Texas fires burned more than half a million acres this weekend:
The fires scorched more than 663,000 acres - more than 1,000 square miles or about two-thirds the size of Rhode Island - far eclipsing the deadly wildfires that prompted Gov. Rick Perry to declare a statewide drought disaster in January. The earlier blaze charred more than 455,000 acres, destroyed more than 340 homes and killed three people.
That makes over a million acres burned in Texas alone this year; Oklahoma and New Mexico have also seen extensive amounts of land ravaged by the fires. Seven people died as a result of the latest fires, four in a chain-reaction collision on a smoke-obscured I-40. It could be worse, though. You could live in Kansas or Missouri.