Friday, November 30, 2007

Just Askin'...

So, one of the classic definitions of "conservative" is a liberal who's been mugged. Does this mean the entire staff of Hillary's campaign office in Rochester, NH are gonna convert go over to the Dark Side?

BTW...the hostage-taker has just given up, as I type.

Gray Great Day

Yet another case of real-life intruding on my blogging…the nerve! So, there I was…all the favorite reads done read and beginning to scour the inter-tubes for things of interest when the phone rings. Rembrandt Auto Body on the line, telling me I can come pick up the Green Hornet, coz she’s ready. Well, now! Do wonders ever cease? They (Rembrandt) estimated the car would be ready on November 30th when I put it in the shop back on the 15th. I took this estimate with the proverbial grain, mainly because prior experience (with other businesses of this nature) has influenced my thinking in that way. So…imagine my surprise. It was considerable, to say the least.

I’m oh-so-pleased to report that Rembrandt did a wonderful job. All the seams align perfectly. The paint matches. Everything works. There are no new squeaks, rattles or other untoward noises. All in all: a wonderful job. George at Rembrandt runs a tight ship and is a genuine nice guy.

Ah, but the best part? My baby and I are reunited. Maybe a little bit of the ol’ “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is in play here, but driving the Green Hornet is sheer bliss compared to the generic rental car I gave up about an hour ago. I think she loves me. I really, really DO. And the feeling is mutual.

Yes, indeed. It kinda-sorta pains me to read this:

NEW YORK: In her Midtown office, Jennifer Chiara, a travel agent, pulled out one of the standard nine-page riders she faxes to Manhattan hotels on behalf of her clients. In it were the customary requests: organic coffee and snacks, a room in a quiet part of the hotel, smart water and San Pellegrino served at room temperature.

Chiara's clients aren't corporate executives or traveling sales representatives, though. They're rock stars - in this case, a "well-known, high-end" band Chiara declined to name.

Tranquillity? Health food? Rock stars? What about Jack Daniels and groupies?

"It's not nuts anymore," said Chiara, who has booked travel for musicians (including Björk, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Alicia Keys) for 18 years. "These guys want to go back to their rooms and have peace and quiet. They want amenities. Gone are the days of people riding a motorcycle down the hallway." She laughed. "Whatever happened to the good old days?"


Of course, rock history - and hotels - are littered with stories of room demolitions and groupie escapades. In the '70s, Led Zeppelin and the Who were infamous for hurling television sets out hotel windows and cementing furniture to ceilings.

Today, such stories are unlikely to be repeated. During a stay at the Soho Grand, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin asked for a kiddie pool for his son; at the London NYC, the Who hit the gym. Today's rock stars, said Paul Stallings, the owner of the Hotel on Rivington, are "more into yoga than drugs."

Dang. Another bubble burst. One wonders what’s next… drug-free professional baseball, basketball and football players, perhaps? Nah. That’s waaay too far out there.

OK. I’m late. Gonna put this up to check the box and to ensure people who know me (fairly) well don’t call out the SAR guys.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

This and That

So. Didja watch the debate last night? I didn’t, for a couple of reasons. First and foremost: it was on CNN. I simply wasn’t ready for more inane YouTube questions and “gotcha” moments. Strangely enough, there weren’t all that many moments of glaring stupidity or posturing according to folks I read and trust. Second, there are still too many candidates on the platform. I don’t expect the field to be winnowed down to the “real” contenders…read that: Romney, Giuliani, Huckabee (yes, Huckabee) and perhaps, just perhaps, Thompson…anytime soon, if ever. The field will narrow after Iowa and New Hampshire, but will there be further debates after the first primaries? History sez no.

Captain Ed, among others (see memeorandum), gives the win to Huckabee. There’s an interesting column at National Review Online… written from the grave by Richelieu… that essentially bemoans the state of US politics. An interesting choice of persona, that, and not inappropriate in the least. (Just as an aside: I’ll bet the Red Eminence is very near the top of Rove’s Hero List. But underneath Machiavelli, of course.)

Further on politics… I signed up, against The-Voices-In-My-Head’s better judgment, for e-mail briefs from the Giuliani campaign. This is the first time I’ve ever made such a move and I’m thinking of signing up for other newsletters, as well, including Hillary, Silky Pony, and Barack’s newsletters (just for laughs, mind you). But I won’t sign up in the manner which I did for Rudy, coz every e-mail I receive from the campaign begins like this:

Dear Norman (Buck),

Tonight, at the CNN/YouTube debate, Americans had the opportunity to ask questions and…

So. I’m now and forever known to the Giuliani campaign as “Norman (Buck).” Which, of course, tells me no actual human beings are involved in the mailing effort. Feh.

I’m suffering from another of those intermittent and undeterminable (as far as cause is concerned) network slowdowns/outages. This latest event began sometime around 1100 hours yesterday and made life frickin’ impossible. Well, life on the inter-tubes, anyway. All the usual, customary, and reasonable “fixes” don’t work, including PC reboots (numerous), modem reboots (more numerous), and that last resort— a call to Yucca Telecom. I called Yucca around 1330 yesterday and there were no other reported performance problems. I held while the tech checked the various towers I shoot to and he came back with “everything looks fine.” I trust this particular guy and always ask for him by name when I call Yucca with (current service) issues. You can ask for someone by name when you call a service provider in a small town, and I simply LOVE that. Still and even, my issues are not resolved. Surfing, reading, and viewing YouTube stuff is dang near impossible. I shudder to think how long it may take me to put this post up…once I’m done with the material gathering and writing.

My fiber connection simply cannot arrive soon enough.

Today’s Pic: The owner of an immaculately restored P-40 Warhawk holds forth on the wonders of his aircraft to an admiring gaggle. YrHmblScrb was himself no less enthralled by this man’s knowledge (and style!) and only stepped back to snap this picture.

At a Commemorative Air Force Air Show in Brownsville, Texas. I have to admit I liked ‘em just a lil bit better when they were the Confederate Air Force.

March, 2000.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Cautionary Tale

It was about 30 years ago... give or take a couple... that a kindly young Air Force dentist advised me to get orthodontic work done after completing some routine restorative work in my mouth, which is to say: a filling or two. He even gave me the name of a dental school buddy of his, whom, he said, would give me a “military discount.” During our conversation I asked if he had any idea what the required orthodontia would cost. His reply? “Three to five thousand dollars. You need a lot of work, given the over-crowding and general misalignment of your teeth.” He went on to tell me that if I chose NOT to have this work done I would have severe dental “issues” in later life.

Enter the roosting chickens.

I don’t have many occasions to regret decisions I’ve made in my life, but this is definitely one such case. Alas, that $3K was well and truly out of the question at that point in time. Even considering the fact I was a Tech Sergeant back then and wasn’t dirt-poor, I wasn’t all that far out of the dirt, what with being recently divorced and about to remarry. Keep in mind― this is 1977 we’re talking about, and three thousand Yankee dollars was a rather princely sum in those days, particularly to a mid-grade NCO. Life, as it’s said, has its priorities… and my teeth weren’t high on my personal priority list. They should have been.

Yesterday my dentist gave me some bad news and suggested a course of action that I have to mull over during the coming week. He suggests I consider dental implants; we have an appointment next Tuesday to go over the exact treatment options, which he will work up after reviewing my history, my x-rays, the results of his analysis, and so on. As for me, I have to do a lil research on the subject.

I like the concept of implants…they appear to beat bridge work, i.e., false teeth, hands-down. But implants have at least one serious drawback: they ain’t cheap. I shudder at the thought of what this work will actually cost, which will be revealed during my consultation next Tuesday. There are other drawbacks as well. Implants take time, and a lot of it. I'll probably need bone restoration work before the actual implants can be installed, and that process alone can take up to four months. The whole implant process could take up to a year, with six to eight months a reasonable estimate in my specific case. And, even considering the remarkably pain-free nature of modern dentistry, work of this nature ain't exactly painless. There will be multiple surgeries involved. But…of all the alternatives out there, implants seem to be the best.

So much for my new Miata.

(That’s not my dentist, btw. Just a stock image.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Oh So Briefly...

Real life intrudes on blogging yet again. While I’ve had the time to make the rounds of my favorite reads I’ve yet to pay attention to EIP. Which really means: no blog-fodder as yet. In the interim I have to go see my dentist and make a major re-supply run. That ought to be fun: out and about while laboring under the lingering effects of anesthesia. So…if you happen to see a drooling old man in these parts, pay him no mind. It’s not really HIS fault, ya know.

In the meantime…there’s this to consider from John Hawkins at Right Wing News: The Rightosphere Temperature Check For November: Special GOP Primary Edition.” I find this to be the most interesting result:

8) Which candidate do you trust the most on foreign policy issues?

A) Fred Thompson: 15 -- 26%
B) John McCain: 17 -- 30%
C) Mike Huckabee: 0 -- 0%
D) Mitt Romney: 4 -- 7%
E) Rudy Giuliani: 21 -- 37%

Put another way: This is THE key issue in the upcoming election. Yet another way to put it: Who will bring me the head of Osama? And the collective heads of his minions and wanna-bee imitators?

Of course, 240 right-wing bloggers just might be wrong. But I doubt it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Think You're Having Site Meter Problems?

Well, you probably are...
SiteMeter Problems - 11-26-07
November 26th, 2007

Sometime during Thanksgiving day SiteMeter experienced some major internal system problems. At the moment it appears that access times to and all stats pages are extremely slow.

We are also aware that access to s21 accounts appears to be disabled.

We are working as quickly as we can to try and find out what the problem is and to get everything back online and working normally.

We apologize for the inconvenience.


The SiteMeter Team

Yep. They started slowing down yesterday sometime and they just flat quit altogether today. Good to know it's not me. God Only Knows why that's my first thought...but it usually is. And, more often than not, it turns out it is me.

But not this time.

Update 11/27/2007: Things are back to normal, for me at least. Go here for a status report from SiteMeter, which sez, in part:

It seems that on Friday November 24th, “Black Friday” (known as such because it’s the busiest shopping day of the year) a handful of SiteMeter servers failed, including the one that hosts From what we’ve heard, the internet had more traffic on this day than ever in its history. We also understand that many sites and server farms became over stressed under the load. At this time we’re only able to speculate but it may be that a handful of our sites succumbed to the same fate.

We’re slowly bringing the downed servers back online but in some cases we’re unable to retrieve data lost during the outage. If your stats are hosted on s21, s24, or s25 you will most likely be missing data from approximately Friday Nov 23rd to Monday Nov 26th.

I'm an S17 kinda guy, myself. But: something else to worry about, eh? The whole danged inter-tubes is running out of bandwidth. I blame YouTube.

Solved: The 20th Century’s Greatest Mystery

You may accuse me of being overly impressed with the last person I’ve read today, and in this case you’d be oh-so-right. Once again, the inimitable Gerard comes through and provides us with the definitive, one-true-answer to the Prime Puzzle of My Generation: the actual lyrics to “Louie, Louie.”

I can die now.

Or, as Gerard put it: At last! At long, long last! Okay, that's it. Western Civilization is a wrap. Over to you, Allah.” (BTW: Gerard has been on a freakin’ roll this past week. TOO much good stuff to link, you should just go…)

Gift Suggestions

We all have someone on our Christmas list that’s hard to shop for…I’m thinking specifically about that annoying person who seemingly has everything, or wants you to believe they do, anyway. Well, Gerard has put together a rather unique gift-giving guide that might hold the answer to your-my-OUR problem. And, in the spirit of “a pic is worth a thousand words,” here’s a sample (click for larger, of course):

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em," indeed! Hell, there are several things on this list I think I need.

(h/t: Chap)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

You're Joking...Right?

A friend forwards the following:

The madam opened the brothel door to see a rather dignified, well-dressed good-looking man in his 50s or maybe early 60s. "May I help you?" she asked. "I want to see Valerie," the man replied. "Sir, Valerie is one of our most expensive ladies. Perhaps you would prefer someone else." said the madam. "No. I must see Valerie." was the man's reply. Just then, Valerie appeared and announced to the man that she charged $1,000 a visit. Without hesitation, the man pulled out ten one hundred dollar bills, gave them to Valerie, and they went upstairs. After an hour, the man calmly left.

The next night, the same man appeared again, demanding to see Valerie. Valerie explained that none had ever come back two nights in a row—too expensive—and there were no discounts. The price was still $1,000. Again the man pulled out the money, gave it to Valerie and they went upstairs. After an hour, he left.

The following night the man was there again. Everyone was astounded that he had come for the third consecutive night but he paid Valerie and they went upstairs. After their session, Valerie questioned the man. "No one has ever been with me three nights in a row. Where are you from?" she asked. The man replied "Arkansas." "Really?" she said. "I have family in Arkansas." "I know," the man said. "Your father died and I am your sister's attorney. She asked me to give you your $3,000 inheritance."

The moral of the story is that THREE things in life are certain:

1. Death
2. Taxes
3. Getting screwed by a lawyer.

S’true, innit?

And while we’re on about jokes…one of the more blog-worthy things I passed up this past week was Barack Obama’s admission that he got high as a teen-ager, while speaking to a group of teens at some (ahem) high school in New Hampshire. Which, to begin with, isn’t really news at all since he wrote about his teen drug use in one of his books. And, when you think about it, his admitted drug use makes Senator Obama pretty much an average sort of kid, given that (a) he was 18 in 1979 and (b) 51% of high school seniors in that particular year supposedly smoked pot (the percent-of-use stats have declined markedly since then). But Senator Obama’s admission isn’t the joke, it’s the reactions to his admission that provoke MY laughter. I’m not alone in this regard, either:

Mitt Romney waded in on BO’s former teen weed burning divulgence and condemned it, saying that Obama’s confession sent a bad message to young people, namely that you can “get high and become president.”

First of all Mitt, you gotta relax, man… Obama, like you, is not going to become president, so chill, okay? In addition, as a good religious man you should applaud his honesty in owning his previously bad record, right? I mean c’mon, Mr. Romney . . . at least he’s up front about it. He didn’t flip flop on what he did in the past or try to explain away why he did what he did to ingratiate himself to a gullible voting block in a sad and desperate attempt to become president.

Another conservative said this week that Barack coming forward with the admission that he toked the ganja was not only unwise but was also a bad example for children. Telling the truth has now become a bad example? I believe that was Larry Craig who said that. I could be wrong.

The absolute cake taker freaking out over Barack’s breasting of his dirty deeds was a 350lb chubby Christian who was all up in arms regarding Obama’s former relationship with the cannabis. He too said that such an admission left a poor pattern for young people. I was thinking, yeah? Well, so does being morbidly obese, chunky butt. Hey, Jabba… being a bloated, self righteous crank with a totemic view of vice is also a bad example for the children, so dial down and take care of your own house, Jenny Craig.

That’s from a column by Doug Giles at Mr. Giles goes on to say that he, as a conservative, wouldn’t vote for Senator Obama in the first place…but Obama’s admission about pot-smoking is both refreshing (as opposed to the infamous “I didn’t inhale. Yeah, right.) and long overdue from our candidates.

It’s good to see I’m not alone in this regard. More support for my particular point of view can be found in this Houston Chronicle editorial, published yesterday. I’ll stop here…except to wonder, yet again, is Obama still smoking? (the comments to this thread are hilarious…)

This is kinda-sorta related to the rhetorical question I posed yesterday (“Are we really that stupid?”):

November 25, 2007 -- IT'S hard for Hollywood pacifists like Brian De Palma to capture the hearts and minds of America if Americans won't see their movies. While the public is staying away in droves from “Rendition," “Lions for Lambs" and “In the Valley of Elah," audiences are really avoiding “Redacted," De Palma's picture about US soldiers who rape a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, then kill her and her family.


“Redacted" - which “could be the worst movie I've ever seen," said critic Michael Medved - took in just $25,628 in its opening weekend in 15 theaters, which means roughly 3,000 people saw it in the entire country. “This, despite an A-list director, a huge wave of publicity, high praise in the Times, The New Yorker, left-leaning sites like Salon, etc.

This lil blurb appeared in the right-leaning NY Post, so its veracity is questionable if you're a member of the tin-foil hat brigade. But for the non-paranoid among us: good news. We’re apparently not that stupid. Better news would be Brian De Palma deciding he’s had enough of Amerikkka and announcing he’s going to emigrate to the south of France where his world-view would be much more acceptable (or not. I keep forgetting: Sarkozy.) Chances of that? Hah.

Some people are really pissed about De Palma’s hit piece, though. Including Congressman Duncan Hunter, who sent a “scathing letter” to the MPAA:

The ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee sent a letter to the chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America yesterday calling the new Iraq war film "Redacted" shameful in its view of U.S. soldiers.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, sent a scathing letter regarding Brian De Palma's new film to MPAA Chairman Dan Glickman asking that he not forget that there are heroes who have sacrificed their lives for the United States and Iraqi people.

"Unfortunately, Brian De Palma's new movie 'Redacted,' which opened in several theaters this week, portrays American service personnel in Iraq as uncontrollable misfits and criminals," Mr. Hunter stated in his letter to Mr. Glickman. "While incidents of criminal behavior by members of our military should never be ignored, the isolated incident on which this film is based negatively portrays American service personnel and misrepresents their collective efforts in Iraq."

Mr. Glickman, a former Democratic congressman and agriculture secretary, could not be reached for comment.

Of course not. And even if Mr. Glickman were available, we’d likely get some pap about the First Amendment, “isn’t this a great country where dissent is tolerated,” and all that happy horseshit. It’s a good thing I’m not king…because there’d be a whole bunch of deportations…or “exiles,” if you prefer… after a fair trial for treason, of course. Coz if De Palma’s merde isn’t “aid and comfort” to our enemies I don’t know what IS.

(h/t to Flopping Aces for the WaTimes link)

Today’s Pic: Keeping with yesterday’s theme…today’s pic isn’t a pic at all, but a link to another “It Could Be Worse” pic I put up not quite a year ago. I simply get all thankful when I go back into the archives and look at these photos. I saw enough of this frozen white stuff to last me a lifetime…and then some… whilst living in Upstate NY.

Never again.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Readin' the News and It Sure Is Bad...

…the title is a hat-tip to Joni. But it’s true. Today.

Bad News from Australia Labor sweeps to a huge win and John Howard…one of America’s strongest and most articulate allies in the war against Islamofascism… is out. Kevin Rudd, the Australian Prime Minister-to-be, ran on a platform of withdrawing Australian troops from Iraq and signing the Kyoto Protocol immediately (among other things). Jules Crittenden sez it’s a move to Pre-9/11 politics. I say it sucks.

Captain Ed, OTOH, predicts it will be “business as usual” with Australia, no matter who’s in charge. The Guardian, in their profile of Rudd (who speaks fluent Mandarin!), seemingly agrees. Let us pray…

More Bad News… and this is a corker. The NY Post: “'Blame U.S. for 9/11' Idiots in Majority; 'Plots' Thicken in Shocking Poll

November 24, 2007 -- Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the federal government had warnings about 9/11 but decided to ignore them, a national survey found.

And that's not the only conspiracy theory with a huge number of true believers in the United States.

The poll found that more than one out of three Americans believe Washington is concealing the truth about UFOs and the Kennedy assassination - and most everyone is sure the rise in gas prices is one vast oil-industry conspiracy.

Sixty-two percent of those polled thought it was "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that federal officials turned a blind eye to specific warnings of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Shocking, indeed. Are we really that frickin’ stupid? Don’t answer that…

I blame Ron Paul.

News You Can Use…Mashable publishes a link to 33 sites with (mostly) free stock photos and backgrounds that can be used on your blog… or elsewhere…without fear of copyright infringement. Most of the photo sites require a link-back or an attribution for a photo you use but that’s only common courtesy, innit? I’ve bookmarked the link.

A Senior Moment… yesterday. Right here at El Casa Móvil De Pennington. I completely forgot it was a holiday Friday, and as such was loaded-up with potentially great college football. I missed another good one, to wit: LSU came up short in a second triple overtime loss. At home this time. Wow. And those Aggies beat Texas, while USC demolished…destroyed… Arizona State. And I missed it all.

But I won’t miss today’s games. Not on your life!

Today’s Pic: It’s another cold and snowy day here on The High Plains of New Mexico. And that’s not too bad, seeing as how today is only Day Two Three of our current cold snap. At any rate, whenever I find myself feeling sorry for myself (about the weather, anyway) I only have to go back into the archives to see it could be…and was…worse. Once upon a time.

This is a (grainy first-generation digital) photo of the Ol’ Homestead in Perinton, New York, taken on a crystal-clear and numbingly cold morning following a six-inch (or more like eight inches) snowfall. As I said: worse.

January, 1999.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Left-Overs (But No Pie)

The News Hour had a great segment on the polarization of American politics this past Wednesday evening (11/21/2007). Here’s one especially pertinent quote:

RAY SUAREZ: Well, has compromise been defined as surrender, Cal Thomas?

CAL THOMAS: It has, in many aspects. Look at the Joe Lieberman race. Here was a man who was the vice presidential candidate for the Democratic Party. He was 100 percent with his party on every issue, except the war. and some of the other far-left organizations moved in to Connecticut with great money and volunteers and painted him as a traitor. They used a video of him embracing President Bush after a State of the Union speech and treated it like Judas Iscariot in the Garden of Gethsemane, betraying Jesus. This is the kind of level of vitriol and hatred that is in our politics.

As Bob Beckel, my co-author, and I move around the country, and we speak together to mixed audiences, we find a tremendous revulsion against this attitude of demeaning our fellow Americans and also a tremendous ocean of goodwill for people who will reach out to somebody on the other political side to actually solve the problems.

Most people don't get up in America in the morning and shout to their neighbor of another party, "Hey, you left-wing, commie pinko, what are you going to do to ruin America today?" And the response is, "You right-wing, fascist, Bible-thumper, what are you going to do to ruin America today?" That's not the real America.

I’m revolted by this attitude, as well. You may think that’s a somewhat hypocritical statement coming from a guy who routinely uses the term “moonbat” to describe (some) members of the Loyal Opposition, “Silky Pony” to describe John Edwards, and other such disparaging terms. But careful reading of my scribblings reveals I only use such terms to describe the most whacked-out individuals and organizations on the Far Left…such as those harridans from Code Pink…not mainstream Democrats.

I also tend to be very disparaging when I reference the fever-swamp blogs, like the logorrheic Maha, Jane “Blackface” Hamsher, Markos “Screw ‘em” Moulitsas, and the profanity-laden Shakespeare’s Sister. Each and every one of my examples specialize in demonizing the right: we’re not just wrong, we’re eeeevil. These guys also have yet another annoying tendency…that of “eating their own.” The classic example? Joe Lieberman. And there are more, many more. You don’t deviate from the Party Line in those circles…not if you want to maintain your standing as a card-carrying “progressive.” But I digress…yet again.

And the Right can be just as bad. It’s not that there aren’t sites on the right similar in tone to the Leftie examples I’ve cited—there certainly are. But I usually don’t read those guys either, primarily because I absolutely, positively disagree with the tone at those places…particularly in their comments sections. Much the same way I disagree with Ann Coulter. I (generally) don’t take issue with what these people actually say, it’s the way they say it. As Mom said: “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

Anyhoo. I encourage you to read the whole transcript of that News Hour segment. The basic point being made is we’re not even close to solving our issues…as a country…until such time as we can talk to one another in a calm, rational manner… without all the name-calling and brickbats.

Your Don Quixote Moment for today… Everyone knows today is “Black Friday,” but didja know today is also “Buy Nothing Day”? S’true. Talk about pissing into the wind! I’m tempted to go out, brush the snow off the car, head straight to Wally-World and buy something…anything. That snow thing is all that’s stopping me. But it’s enough, so I suppose I’ll be an unwilling participant in this “event.”

Ah! But on the other hand…one word: Amazon! (Psst: If you wanna buy me something for Christmas, my wish list is here.)

Hey Phlegmmy! I thought you went to Arkansas for Thanksgiving? What are you doing in New Yawk? Or is this your Evil Twin? I see she had to be restrained…

(Photo: NYT. Article here.)

Department of Recurring Bitches and Moans… The WX Channel has been MIA for nearly 24 hours now here in P-Ville. I frickin’ hate Comcast Cable. And yeah, “hate” is an accurate term― no hyperbole here. None at ALL.

Today’s Pic: Another one of the 60 photos I took of last Tuesday’s sunset. This time it’s looking NNE towards P-Ville and features ENMU’s low-profile athletic center (it’s kinda-sorta built into the ground), the skyline dominating presence of the city’s largest ag-elevator (for the peanuts!) and an absolutely amazing collection of power poles…all bathed in the pink pastel light of the late sunset. Right outside my door...which would be the back-door, in this case.

Ain’t it purdy?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

They Said It Would Snow...

…and it’s been doing so for the past two hours, albeit lightly. The snow isn’t sticking on the pavement (yet) but the grass, the trees, and the cars have the beginnings of a nice white blanket. It’s great fun to look out the window and watch these small flakes drift down. Which means there’s little or no wind, of course. And that’s a great good thing since it’s (only) 26 degrees outside as I type.
There’ll be no cigars and beer on the verandah today. Or, in other words: Brrr!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Gentle Reader. I’m going to be lazy today and re-run what I said last year (in part...there was more), mainly coz (a) it’s all true and (b) I’m fresh out of original i-deers. So…from Turkey-Day-Last:

Of all the things I’m thankful for on this day…family, friends, reasonable health… I thank God most of all for making me an American. Most all of the good things in my life begin and end with that one single fact.

You could do much worse today than read the editorial the WSJ has published every Thanksgiving since 1961.

We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men governing themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so, we are the marvel and the mystery of the world, for that enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth.

And we might remind ourselves also, that if those men setting out from Delftshaven had been daunted by the troubles they saw around them, then we could not this autumn be thankful for a fair land.

As true today as it was back in 1961.

The images come from Thanksgiving Corner, which has a great collection of Thanksgiving wallpaper. Normally I'd only post a single topical image, but I was so taken with the second image that I had to post it. Shades of Ben Franklin, and all that.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I know you’re busy with Turkey-Day preparations, Gentle Reader. So…a word of advice: Don’t go to this site unless you have a significant piece of free time to devote to exploring, reading, and above all…marveling. “Marveling” in the sense that we are oh-so-blessed to live in these United States (assuming you live in the US, and not all of the folks that drop in here at EIP do). Just a quick scan of the “Global Incident Map” reveals the nature, extent and magnitude of terror in the 21st century. While the USofA is by no means immune to terror, we suffer a lot less than others…most notably the Israelis and the Iraqis, just to name two put-upon populations.

Sobering. To say the very least.

(h/t: Democracy Project, via memeorandum)

If You Can’t Say Anything Nice

And you know how to finish that statement, Gentle Reader.

Ah, and there’s the rub. “Nice” has been sort of an endangered species around El Casa Móvil De Pennington of late…almost to the point of non-existence. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to find something…anything…about which to comment upon in a positive manner. It’s all well and good to rail on about politics, but politics gets old after a bit. Especially in this, the extended-play version of an election year that began waay too early and will go on well beyond the point where we’re all sick to death of it. I’m beginning to believe we’re stuck in a Groundhog Day-like version of politics, wherein we repeat the same ol’, same ol’ to the point where we’ll all just throw up our hands and say “Frick It!” Your mileage may vary, of course. And my attitude most certainly will change, of which I have no (real) doubt. But for now?

Frick It.

I know this has been around a while…but it still makes me smile and, well…‘tis the Season! Snowglobe! (h/t to SJS for the resurrection)

And…given as how we’re scraping the bottom of the blog-barrel…I’m gonna let you in on a little secret, Gentle Reader. I’ve decided what my annual self-gift will be this Christmas. And, in so doing, I’ve also made my one-and-probably-only New Year’s resolution. First, the self-gift:

OK, sez you, WTF is it? It’s a Canon 9950F scanner…for prints, negatives, and slides. The box is extremely well-reviewed (a PC Mag’s Editors Choice back in ‘05), albeit a bit pricey. But I want/need something that does a good world-class job and handles prints, negatives, and slides…of which there are many thousands in the archives. Which brings us to the resolution.

I’m going to retrieve the photo archives from SN2’s custody when I go up to Omaha for the holidays. And, upon my return to Beautiful La Hacienda Trailer Park I’m going to scan them into digital form. I’m thinking this project will last much longer than a year and will severely test my perseverance.

Ah, but going public only serves to reinforce my resolve. And…think of the blog-fodder! Embarrassing baby pictures! Amateur travelogue pics! Motorcycle racing pics! Isle of Man TT pics! And so much more…

Makes me want to jump in the car and head out to Omaha right this minute. But you can’t rush the holidays, and that’s the chief reason I’m making the trip this year. The archives are just a pleasant and useful by-product, in the final accounting. Still and even: I'm getting ALL excited!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


We’re all about the weather today, eh? This evening’s sunset, which… as you can plainly see… was predominately pastels. Sometimes we get these flaming red, gold, and indigo blue sunsets and at other times they are as you see here. Sunsets are a lot like raising children: I don’t have favorites; I love ‘em all.

As always, click for larger.

A Change Is Gonna Come...

Well, now. This looks something like a “radical change,” nu?

There’s enough “Northerner” left in me…or maybe I should say “kid”…to look upon the chance of snow favorably, especially around the holidays. I always loved the first snowfall of the year…when things seem so clean and bright, when the earth is enveloped in a hush that only a substantial amount of snow on the ground can deliver, the beauty of frost-encrusted trees, and all that.

Which all passed away the very instant I had to get out and drive in that krep. Or scrape a windshield. Or shovel a walk. That’s when the Caribbean began to look really good…

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday Potpourri

“Press 1 for English. Press 2 for Stupid.”

It's been less than a week since New York's Sen. Hillary Clinton and Gov. Eliot Spitzer had to climb down from their support of driver's licenses for illegal aliens. Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has moved to kill an amendment that would protect employers from federal lawsuits for requiring their workers to speak English. Among the employers targeted by such lawsuits: the Salvation Army.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, a moderate Republican from Tennessee, is dumbstruck that legislation he views as simple common sense would be blocked. He noted that the full Senate passed his amendment to shield the Salvation Army by 75-19 last month, and the House followed suit with a 218-186 vote just this month. "I cannot imagine that the framers of the 1964 Civil Rights Act intended to say that it's discrimination for a shoe shop owner to say to his or her employee, 'I want you to be able to speak America's common language on the job,' " he told the Senate last Thursday.

But that's exactly what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is trying to do. In March the EEOC sued the Salvation Army because its thrift store in Framingham, Mass., required its employees to speak English on the job. The requirement was clearly posted and employees were given a year to learn the language. The EEOC claimed the store had fired two Hispanic employees for continuing to speak Spanish on the job. It said that the firings violated the law because the English-only policy was not "relevant" to job performance or safety.

Words fail me. They really do. Is this America, or not*? But, Hey! This is Madame Speaker we’re on about. I suppose nothing that ditzy woman does should surprise me, eh? Still and even: Eso es realmente estúpido. I’m sure you get my drift, Nan.

* Semi-rhetorical question, that… I considered getting into the whole Aztlán thing and the soft bigotry of low expectations, as exhibited by the prime movers behind Pelosi’s latest stupidity. But I don’t want to go there. Now. Maybe later.

Wow! Who’d a thunk it? Tokyo? And the pronouncement comes from…wait for it…the Michelin (Red) Guide?

Tokyo, the neon-clad home of the pickled sea-slug and horseradish chocolate, has eclipsed Paris, London and New York to become, officially, the most delicious city on earth.

The Japanese capital was handed the coveted crown by Michelin, the French tyre company whose famous “Guides Rouges” have been every bon viveur's bible for more than a century.

Eight restaurants, including two high-end sushi joints — one of them with fewer than a dozen seats — and the esteemed 95-year old Hamadaya traditional Japanese restaurant, were awarded the sought-after “three star” status.


The massive haul of stars - more than the combined 148 starred establishments in Paris and London - beats all other locations covered by the guides. Publishing Michelin Guide for Tokyo, its compilers declared that the city was now the undisputed “world leader” in fine dining.


The compilers themselves said that the most surprising discovery was not the quality of the food in Tokyo but the sheer number of restaurants operating in the world's largest capital city. The 150 establishments that achieved a star grade were whittled-down from a starting line-up of 190,000 registered eateries in metropolitan Tokyo.

As the article notes, Michelin’s rating comes as no surprise to Tokyoites and the Japanese at large (and YrHmblScrb, too). But the French? That’s the surprising bit, for me. First they elect Sarkozy and now they say Tokyo is a better gastronomic experience than the City of Light? Sacré bleu! Qu'est-ce que c’est, ça?

For the males amongst us: Feeling kinda dumb of late? Then maybe you should quit hanging out with blondes

Researchers discovered what might be called the “bimbo delusion” by studying men’s ability to complete general knowledge tests after exposure to different women. The academics found that men’s scores fell after they were shown pictures of blondes.

I don’t believe a freakin’ word of this. (Full disclosure: The Second Mrs. Pennington is/was a “natural blonde.”) But it IS amusing, in a bizarre sort of way. And the study was “peer reviewed,” for what that’s worth…

And finally…It hurts to read this:

DETROIT -- In another blow to the Motor City's tarnished image, Detroit pushed past St. Louis to become the nation's most dangerous city, according to a private research group's controversial analysis, released Sunday, of annual FBI crime statistics.


Detroit was pegged the nation's murder capital in the 1980s and has lost nearly 1 million people since 1950, according to the Census Bureau. Downtown sports stadiums and corporate headquarters _ along with the redevelopment of the riverfront of this city of 919,000 _ have slowed but not reversed the decline. Officials have said crime reports don't help.

I lived in Deetroit in the 80s. That “murder capital of the US” thing was taken with a grain of salt and a dollop of humor, as well. For a time Detroiters walked around sporting tee shirts that said something to the effect of “I’m so tough I vacation in Detroit! As for me, I had one (long gone, now) that said “Detroit: Attitude capital of the world! And it certainly was that. You need attitude to live in that sort of environment. Unfortunately.

Detroit gets enough bad press; they don’t need any more.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Business As Usual

Well. For starters, let me say I was disappointed in the quality of the football games I watched yesterday. The usual suspects demolished their (unranked) opponents but there was yet another upset no one in their right mind would have predicted…OU lost to Texas Tech. Dang. I would have liked to have seen that, schadenfreude being what it is. And the fact I hold OU in the same sort of contempt as I do Miami and Florida State. I had (unrealistic) hopes that Michigan would manage to upset Ohio State…what with the power of the rivalry, the fact that Michigan had several graduating seniors who have never beaten OSU, the game being played in A2, and all that… but it was not to be. Michigan just isn’t that good this year, and OSU is. And I didn’t bother watching ND. Two 1-9 teams going at it? Spare me.

The BCS rankings will be… cue up Arte Johnson… “vedddy in-TER-est-eeng!” when they come out today. No change in the Number One spot, and Kansas should be Number Two (if not Number One, when you get right down to it)…but the rest of the field? Anybody’s guess.

"First, we kill all the lawyers!" Or so said “Dick the Butcher,” in Shakespeare’s play Henry VI. Good ideas tend to be timeless, and here’s proof in the form of George Will’s syndicated column today. Excerpt:

WASHINGTON -- John Edwards launched his slight public career -- one Senate term, two presidential candidacies -- with the money and reputation he made as a trial lawyer. Today he is the candidate of a small fraction of the electorate but a sizable portion of America's trial lawyers. Edwards says Washington is "corrupt." Well.

Within Edwards' lucrative trial bar constituency, there has been a flurry of criminal indictments. Their target has been what Fortune magazine calls the law firm of Hubris Hypocrisy and Greed. (See Peter Elkind's jaw-dropping report in the issue of Nov. 13, 2006.) The real name of the nation's foremost securities class-action firm is Milberg Weiss.

It has been indicted as a "racketeering enterprise" that obstructed justice and committed perjury, bribery and fraud while collecting about $250 million in fees from about 250 cases using paid plaintiffs, which is illegal. Several of the firm's members, past and present, also have been indicted.

Since 1965, the firm has won, often by tactics indistinguishable from extortion, $45 billion from corporations -- more than $1 billion a year for plaintiffs claiming to have been cheated as investors.

This is the first I’ve heard of this indictment, but it could well and truly explain why I’ve stopped receiving (for the most part) notifications of class-action suits…which used to number at least one per week a year or so ago and of which I am automatically a member of the class, solely by virtue of the fact I happen to have purchased stock in XYZ corporation at some point in the past. That “automatic” inclusion means I must mail an “opt-out” notification to the bloodsuckers bringing the suit. Which, in turn, pisses me off. What gives a bunch of ambulance-chasers the right to include me in their frickin’ suit… without my express permission… to begin with?

I have no problem with people trying to get a portion of their money back in egregious cases of fraud, like the Enron or WorldCom scandals. But most of the notices of class-action suits I’ve received over the past three or four years have been for the corporate “crime” of allowing the stock the stock price to fall. Imagine that! Stocks going down, instead of up? Let’s SUE! And the sad part is the only people that make money off these frivolous suits are the trial lawyers. The corporations lose, the stock holders lose (because the payouts, when and if they come are usually small*), everyone loses…except the lawyers. Which is what Mr. Will is on about. His column is less about Edwards and more about the sleazy members of Edwards’ profession. As Mom said, “you’re known by the company you keep.”

And as I said: good ideas are timeless.

* From an old NYT article on the subject:

Sometimes there is little worth claiming. In a 1996 memo for the Manhattan Institute, a research organization in New York, Lawrence W. Schonbrun, a securities lawyer, described a settlement check written to one class member for 14 cents, complete with four pages of instructions on how to report the payment to the Internal Revenue Service. Although cash claims worth less than $5 are often not paid, some settlements offer other compensation of dubious value: discount coupons for goods or services from the very company whose products or services prompted the lawsuits.

And Hey! Speaking of Silky Pony…this just in!

Just one bad idea after another, eh? “Bad Corporations! BAD!”

Dang. I’m glad he’s got the proverbial snowball’s chance of getting the Democrat nomination. OTOH, I’m thinking he’d be pretty easy to beat… Serious mixed emotions. (h/t:

In the “Preaching to the Choir” department…there’s this article (“Robert Spencer: War on Terror or War on Jihad? Defining the Problem”) by Pam Meister, writing at Family Security Matters. Excerpt:

If fundamental changes are not made in Europe soon, we will see Muslims in the majority in Europe by the end of the 21st Century, and European culture replaced by Islamic culture. Spencer warned: “We’re going to see the destruction of all these things we take for granted.” And Spencer claimed it is not only our presidential candidates who seem to flounder when it comes to worldwide Jihad. He said no one in Washington D.C. – including President Bush – has made the connection between the Islamification of Europe and what America faces. While we hamper ourselves with political correctness that forbids us from linking Islam with terrorism, the terrorists themselves are advertising their efforts as Islamic Jihad. Consider the names of the following terror groups:

· The International Islamic Front for the Jihad Against Jews (headed by Osama bin Laden)

· Laskar Jihad (in Indonesia)

· Egyptian Islamic Jihad

· Palestinian Islamic Jihad

They don’t have a problem calling themselves Jihadists – why should we? Spencer referred to a recent appearance by terrorism analyst Steven Emerson on Fox News’ “Hannity & Colmes” program, where liberal co-host Alan Colmes declared it wasn’t proper to “demonize” a religion by using terms such as Islamofascism or Islamic Jihad. When Emerson pointed out that “Islamic Jihad” is a term used by Islamist terrorists – in fact, as mentioned above, it is in the names of their organizations – Colmes replied that he didn’t have the right to use the term “because it’s their religion, not yours, and you’re trying to define their religion your way.”

If we aren’t allowed to use the same terms used by the groups themselves, we’ve painted ourselves into a very tight corner.

The problem is the choir is pretty small, given the examples cited in the article, and includes none of the current Democrat presidential candidates and only two candidates in the Republican field. And, unfortunately, Mr. Spencer concludes that situation is unlikely to change.

Today’s Pic: My view of the world this past Friday…which goes a long way towards explaining the sour mood I was in that day. Can you spell B-L-E-A-K? And although I was standing outside when I snapped this pic, the view is precisely what I see out my window as I sit at my desk. And, with the exception of the odd dusting of snow we get here on the High Plains of New Mexico, the view will be unchanging over the course of the next four months, or so. Well, there’s one other possible exception…but let’s not go there, mmm-kay? Coz I’m just not ready for that. Now, or ever.

Friday, November 16, 2007

This... really beginning to irritate me. To no freakin' end. And all those hits? 98.76% of 'em are from overseas. What's up with that?

In a Mood to Rant...

Yesterday was the day I used to increase my cigarette consumption by half, in order to compensate for those folks participating in The Great American Smoke-Out. This commemoration, or whatever you want to call it, still irritates the Living Hell out of me for some strange and unknown reason. Perhaps it’s my abhorrence of being coerced, how ever well-meaning and kindly the coercion may be, or perhaps it’s my fundamental problem with authority (a life-long affliction), or maybe it’s my contempt for do-gooders of any/all persuasion(s). Whatever. I still have vivid memories of wanting to do violence on those “friends” who would pointedly remind me… as I lit up… “Don’t you know today’s the GAS?” Why, NO! No, I didn’t! And, golly-gosh, let me put this out right now… in your ear. Now, please. Just go away.

The very idea of the Great American Smoke-Out strikes me as ludicrous. Quitting smoking is hard…just ask anyone who’s done it six, eight, or 26 times. What gives any intelligent person reason to believe giving it up for a single day is going to have any effect? Enquiring minds wanna know.

(And by the way…while I’m ranting… I always intentionally misspell “inquiring” as a tip o’ the hat to the National Enquirer. Just wanted you to know, Gentle Reader.)

Semi-related to the above: Don’t you dare steward me,” in today’s Times (UK) Excerpt:

The illiberal liberals even wheel on J.S.Mill to support coercion. The summary claims that Mill's “classic harm principle” (I thought his classic principle was liberty, but still), backs state intervention “where an individual's actions affect others”. It is hard to think of any non-hermit who does not “affect others”. In fact, what Mill said in On Liberty - quoted in the full report - was that to justify compulsion, an individual's conduct “must be calculated to produce evil to someone else”. It seems that the definition of calculated evil is now to smoke in your living room, feed your family burgers or drink more than a couple of glasses of wine.

Emphasis mine. It’s really hard to tell who’s ahead in the Nanny Sweepstakes…the Brits or us. In either case, a substantial number of people in both countries think “government is the answer,” in the form of more and (ahem) better laws to fix whatever it is that ails us, including quite a lot that doesn’t ail us at all…it, however you wish to define “it,” simply offends the sensibilities of right-thinking people. Ergo: make it illegal. Or tax it. And tax it some more. But sometimes that won’t fly. And if something doesn’t fly, well then…be outraged. Coz it’s for the children.

Aiiieee. My head hurts… and it’s a self-inflicted wound.

This is sorta amusing: Mom and Dad and All Their Baggage. If you think I’m damning the article with faint praise, well…you’re right. There aren’t any LOL moments in this article and, given the subject… which is “what happens when parents come for an extended stay with their adult children,” there should be at least one, if not three or four. I link it not for the writing, but for the simple fact the article might fire off some complimentary synapses of your own. The most interesting thing (to me) about the article is the road not taken. In this case, the article simply touches on something that could/should have received more discussion, that being the “control” issue, or what happens when your child grows up and is no longer actually a child, even though you, as parent, may still see him or her that way. As I said: this was just touched upon, not explored.

I have a few war stories in that space and actually began writing about one of them. And then I deleted 15 minutes worth of fast ‘n’ furious typing. No need to air dirty laundry; the past is past. Even if that past is somewhat amusing and droll. Those stories concerned interactions with my in-laws, The Second Mrs. Pennington’s parents, who came for extended visits with us each and every year of the three years we lived in London. Time (over 25 years of it) has diminished a lot of the angst I used to carry about those visits, but not all. But…I’ll leave it at that. Let’s just characterize those visits as “stressful.”

I hope I’m not causing similar feelings in my daughters-in-law. I’m pretty sensitive about that… based on past experience, and all.