Tuesday, December 25, 2007
THE Christmas gift -- I got the Creative Zen Nano Plus MP3 player -- rated a best buy by Cnet and PC World. One gig of solid state memory, FM tuner and voice recorder. Can record directly from a CD player. Bite me, Apple.
We got one for my daughter too.
Also got some CDs -- new Alterbridge, King's X two-disk live set, and an earlier disk by Pillar. And I got the Eric Clapton Autobio.
Also shirts, calendars and stuff.
Bought my bride a GPS -- Garmin Streetpilot C550 -- TFT screen, points of interest, traffic reports, auto-rerouting, and it speaks street names.
A very Merry Christmas.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Media reporting the death of Dan Fogelberg at 56, from prostate cancer.
He was often derided in the 70s and 80s as a soft-rock pioneer, but I thought he was a talented singer-songwriter who successfully melded rock, folk and country styles.
Get your PSA tests every year, boys -- particularly if you're over 45.
Monday, December 10, 2007
For those who haven't been following the thriling saga, the Studwagon Mark III (1995 Oldsmobile 88 Royale) is no more -- the Boy Genius totaled it on the way home from school about two months ago. I was sick for a month.
But onward we go. I was originally looking for something like a Camry or an Accord, but was coming up dry.
Then last weekend when the weather got greasy I was thinking how handy it would be to have another four-wheel drive-capable vehicle around the house, and stumbled on this.
Checked it out after church Sunday, pulled the VIN -- ran it through Carfax and it came back clean -- test drove it and said "don't wrap it, I'll eat it here."
The thing is loaded -- power everything, leather seats, cool sound system (back speakers are blown though), moonroof.
Nicer than my first car. Nicer than my second car.
Uh, nicer than my third car.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
"Nobody denies this is an important event, but huge numbers of people are going, and their emissions are probably going to be greater than a small African country," said Chris Goodall, author of the book "How to Live a Low-Carbon Life."
The U.N. estimates 47,000 tons of carbon dioxide and other pollutants will be pumped into the atmosphere during the 12-day conference in Bali, mostly from plane flights but also from waste and electricity used by hotel air conditioners.
If correct, Goodall said, that is equivalent to what a Western city of 1.5 million people, such as Marseilles, France, would emit in a day.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Monday, December 03, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
"At the end of the day, we need to ensure revenue growth is balanced with profitable growth."
"At the end of the day, you're all going to hell anyway."
"At the end of the day, I just don't like shoes that are pointy."
At the end of WHAT day? TOday?
Shopworn. Hackneyed. Cliche.
Can't they just say "ultimately" or "finally." I could even stomach "bottom line:".
Friday, November 09, 2007
Playing at The Chance in Poughkeepsie, which I haven't been to since college.
Let me put it to you this way -- the last band I saw there was Twisted Sister. Pre-MTV. Had no idea who they were -- they were friends of a college friend. Holey Socks!
Monday, October 29, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Nice to read a sober, intelligent, informed discussion of climate change from someone who's dedicated his life to studying it.
You don't win Oscars that way though.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
"We were very pleased with the assurances we received from the (Syrian) president that he was ready to resume the peace process. He's ready to engage in negotiations for peace with Israel,'' Pelosi said.
Sounds very similiar to: "Peace for our time."
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
After President Bush said he would veto any war-funding ill calling for an end-date for troops in Iraq, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi swaggered before the CNN cameras to declare "there's a new congress in town."
"When the president says he wants to veto this bill he says, I am vetoing accountability - accountability of my own administration and of the Iraqi government," she added. "He says, I forbid. He told me, I forbid, I forbid accountability. I forbid additional assistance and meeting the health needs of our military and our veterans. I forbid meeting the needs of the people struck by Katrina. I forbid s-chip helping the poorest children in America get healthcare. I forbid disaster agriculture assistance to farmers and cattlemen across the country who need this help."
Health needs of our military and veterans? Katrina? Healthcare for poor children? Agriculture assistance?
What, you may ask, does any of that have to do with the war in Iraq? Nothing.
Nothing, except it represents a portion of the pork Democrats larded into the House and Senate bills to bribe Congressmembers to vote for them.
Ah, that certainly is a cool breeze blowing through the halls of Congress since Nancy and her boys took over. Not.
Business as usual.
Big Nance also noted failed public confidence in Bush and the Iraq War, but she better check her numbers -- current polls how public confidence in Congress declining and rising for the president.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Current polls show public opinion of Democratically controlled Congress on par or lower than for President Bush, with both hanging in the low 30s for approval.
As one pundit put it: buyer's remorse?
Not surprising considering how the Democrats have failed to live up to the hype that swept them to power last fall. What exactly have they done since taking office?
Lessee, there was the non-binding resolution on the Iraq "surge," which is essentially the legislative equivalent of impotence. Now they're pimping a fall 2008 deadline for complete withdrawal from Iraq (still working out the bugs on that one -- "what's a more positive word for 'retreat?'")
On the issue corruption there was, well, there was some minor legislation about perks from lobbyists, which of course the lobbyists are already working around -- no more sitdown meals, but appetizers are okay. So put that filet mignon on a stick and eat it standing up and you're all good.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Not real surprising -- Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was hellbent to convict someone of SOMETHING in this, and Libby is the fish.
Before the pundits and shriekers spool up, a couple things to keep in mind:
-- Libby was not the one who leaked Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak, -- former Deputy Defense Secretary Richard Armitage (an opponent of the Iraq war) was. And Fitzgerald knew that from the start.
-- Libby was not charged with leaking Plame's identity.
-- Plame's identify was essentially the most talked about thing in Washington, according to the testimony at the trial, and Libby never denied that he participated in those discussions.
-- The substance of the charges was that Libby's notes indicated he had conversations about Plame's identity earlier that he said he did while testifying. So he was essentially accused of forgetting when he had specific conversations about something everyone was talking about.
-- Whether Libby is a liar or not is not clear. But it's clear that Joe Wilson is-- he wrote in the New York Times that he found no evidence Iraq sought uranium in Niger, but he told the CIA the exact opposite (as documented in the Senate Intelligence Committee report on prewar intelligence).
So while Libby's guilt is shaky at best, the bona fide leaker Armitage and the confirmed liar Wilson remain uncharged.
Libby's conviction will be overturned on appeal.
Monday, March 05, 2007
Until he saw what they did when they took over in 1975.
The following piece by him appeared in the UK Times on Saturday:
Remember: for Cambodia, read Iraq
The Killing Fields illustrates brilliantly part of the long disaster that has been Cambodia over recent decades. It is a compelling film that follows the story of a young Cambodian, Dith Pran, who worked for the New York Times reporter Sidney Schanberg in Cambodia during the brutal five-year war that resulted in the communist Khmer Rouge victory in April 1975.
At that moment all the foreigners and their Cambodian friends took refuge in the French Embassy, hoping for safe passage out of the country. They had not reckoned with the horrific total revolution that the communists planned to impose. They demanded that all the Cambodians, including Pran, surrender, while the foreigners were trucked out of the country. In tears, the foreigners, including Schanberg, let their friends go. Many were murdered at once as “Western agents”.
For the next three and a half years Pran had to conceal his past as he worked in the fields. The communists under Pol Pot shut Cambodia off and imposed one of the most vicious totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. Up to two million of the seven million people died, either murdered by the Khmer Rouge or from starvation and disease as a result of the draconian agrarian policies they imposed. Pran survived.
At the end of 1975 I went to the Thai-Cambodian border to talk to refugees. Their horrific stories of people with glasses being killed as “intellectuals” and of “bourgeois” babies being beaten to death against trees were being dismissed as CIA propaganda by the antiAmerican Western Left, but it seemed obvious to me that they were true. I wanted to discover how the Khmer Rouge had grown and come to power; I wrote a book called Sideshow, which was very critical of the way in which the United States had brought war to Cambodia while trying to extricate itself from Vietnam.
But horror had engulfed all of Indo-China as a result of the US defeat in 1975. In Vietnam and Laos there was no vast mass murder but the communists created cruel gulags and, from Vietnam in particular, millions of people fled, mostly by boat and mostly to the US. Given the catastrophe of the communist victories, I have always thought that those like myself who were opposed to the American efforts in Indochina should be very humble. I also think it wrong to dismiss the US efforts there as sheer disaster. Lee Kuan Yew, the former longtime Prime Minister of Singapore, has a subtler view. He argues that, although America lost in IndoChina in 1975, the fact that it was there so long meant that other SouthEast Asian countries had time to build up their economies to relieve the poverty of their peasants and thus resist communist encroachment — which they probably could not have done had IndoChina gone communist in the 1960s.
That long view seems to me to be the one that has to be applied to Iraq. I still believe the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was the correct thing to do — and it was something only the United States could have done. For all the horrors that extremist Sunnis and Shias are inflicting on each other today, the US rid the world of the Pol Pot of the Middle East. So long as the vile Saddam family regime remained in power there was no hope of progress in the region. There is still hope — if we do not abandon the Iraqi people.
In Indo-China the majority of Western journalists (including myself) believed that the war could not or should not be won. Similarly today, for too many pundits hatred (and it really is that) of Bush and Blair dominates perceptions. Armchair editorialists love to dismiss the US effort in terms of Abu Ghraib or Haditha. They were not typical moments. Evidence of the courage and commitment of ordinary US soldiers is inadequately covered by many papers, as is the courage of millions of ordinary Iraqis.
There are encouraging signs — the Iraqi military is becoming ever more competent; Sunni tribal leaders seem increasingly angry with al-Qaeda brutalities; parliament is discussing contentious legislation on dividing oil and gas revenues fairly between different parts of the country; the dinar is still strong, indicating confidence; most Iraqis still seem to desire a united country.
Of course huge mistakes have been made. We should lament and criticise them but not dismiss the underlying effort. President Bush’s new strategy (and probably his last throw) is to “surge” thousands of US troops into Baghdad. Rather than abusing him we should all be hoping that it is not too little too late.
The consequences of an American defeat in Iraq would be even worse than in IndoChina. As the al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Musab al-Zarqawi, said before he was killed by a US air strike: “The shedding of Muslim blood is allowed in order to disrupt the greater evil of disrupting jihad.”
If Iraq collapses, such nihilist killing will spread far wider. As in Cambodia, bloody mass murder is the only alternative to what the US-led coalition is trying to achieve. Thanks to the sacrifice of young American and British soldiers, and to the courage of millions of ordinary Iraqis, the country can still have a better future — if we remain committed. Remember 1975.
William Shawcross is the author of Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia, and Allies: The US, Britain, Europe and the War in Iraq
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Gore's palatial Tennessee homes uses more electricity in a month as the average American household uses in a year. That he balances this by purchasing "carbon offsets" -- investments that reduce carbon dioxide output, effectively cancelling out his overweight emissions -- misses the point, says the WSJ.
While expects everyone else to suffer the inconveniences that go along with conservation, he has the luxury of buying his way out.
"We don't begrudge Mr. Gore his Tennessee spread or his pool, but his energetic energy use does underscore the complicated nature of modern economic life and the real costs of "doing something" about global warming, "says the WSJ. "The pleasures of affluence take energy, whether they be relaxing in a hot tub after a long day of predicting the end of the Greenland ice sheet, or flying in a private jet to talk political strategy with Leo DiCaprio. You never know where you're going to leave your next carbon footprint.
"Mr. Gore is rich and fortunate enough to be able to afford the "carbon offset" for his energy indulgences. The middle-class parents who need a gas-guzzling SUV to haul the kids to soccer practice might not be so lucky. They might even settle for an unheated pool."
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
"We categorically deny that we supplied these weapons to the Iraqi terrorists -- the fact that they are obviously manufactured in Iran and are used by our military is merely a coincidence," said an Iranian embassy spokesman, adding, "Death to America. Uh, oh and Israel too. Yeah death to Israel. And the Holocaust never happened."
The munitions, primarily armor-piercing rounds (marked "Made In Iran -- Death to Infidels") have killed 170 coalition soldiers.
Congress all in a dither over it, as the House of Representatives votes on its Manifesto of Cowardice, condemning the president's plan to increase troops in Iraq.
"If at times like this we can't turn tail and run, taking refuge in the safety provided by hiding under our beds, when can we?" said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"Hold me, I'm scared," added Congressman John Murtha.
Congress is all nervous because they're afraid the unveiling of the Iranian munitions signals a move by the administration toward war with Iran.
But we don't need to invade Iran and get ourselves all messy in another land war to stop the Iranians and Syrians from supporting the bad guys in Iraq. There's a perfectly good alternative.
Here's what we should do: Park a couple of Aegis guided missile cruisers in the Persian Gulf, along with an aircraft carrier to provide fighter cover.
Then, we tell the Iranians and Syrians that for every weapon or fighter we find in Iraq that we can trace directly back to them, they lose a factory, a power plant, a transportation hub, a bridge or a government building.
Heck, we'll even give them 30-minutes warning on which target we're going to hit before we launch the cruise missiles, so they have time to get people out.
I call it "reverse insurgency via cruise missile proxy."
Effective, humane, and I'll bet it will back them down.
But we won't do it.
Friday, February 09, 2007
"But Jblog," you say with astonishment, "Only quiche-eaters, treehuggers, dirt-worshippers and earthmuffins drive hybrids."
Not so, however -- it's actually the PERFECT car for a registered Republican like me. Lemme tell you why:
-- Tax breaks -- The purchase qualifies for a $1,500 federal income tax credit -- that's a credit, not a deduction, so it comes right off the bottom line. (But hurry -- the credit drops to $750 after March 31 and expires later this year. That's why I went for mine now.) Plus in Connecticut you don't have to pay sales tax on new hybrids -- that shaves another $1,500 off the top of the price.
-- Fiscal fitness -- In addition to $3Gs in tax breaks, I qualified for 24 months of 0 percent financing. I estimate that will save me another $2,000 or so over the life of the loan. And I estimate I will save another $1,000 in fuel costs each year. That's $7,000 in savings over the first two years, which well offsets the premium price for purchasing this new technology.
-- Good for America -- I'm currently averaging about 45 mpg, which is about twice what my old car got. America finds itself in direct competition with emerging markets in China and India for the global oil supply, which will push oil prices up over the next decade. Cutting my fuel consumption by half helps take the pressure off. It also means less money in the pockets of terrorists who profit from the oil trade, like Osama Bin Ladin and Hugo Chavez.
-- Rational environmentalism -- Contrary to popular misconception, most conservatives DO care about the environment. We'd just prefer not crater the economy while saving the earth. Adoption of new technologies like hybrid cars is a sane approach to this issue.
-- Intelligent design -- This is an exceptionally well-designed vehicle, inside and out. -- from the gasoline engine/electric motor power plant to the head-up display and touchscreen controls. Purchasing cars like this encourages all the automakers to strive for this kind of innovation and user-centered design.
-- Moral high ground -- "No blood for oil" my ass. How exactly did those hippies get to the antiwar rally, anyway? Next time I'm at the Dairy and Energy Mart giving my hybrid a sip and I see one of those freaks filling up his gas guzzler (with his antiwar, anti-oil bumpersticker proudly displayed), I believe I pretty much have the absolute moral authority to grab the tire iron out the hatch, walk over and bust his windshield.
Friday, February 02, 2007
But thought I would catch up on a couple things.
Fred Barnes writing about WSJ opinion section yesterday about how Hillary Clinton's caught in a political crack -- sitting to the right of her primary opponents, she's feeling pressure to move to the left to gain her party nomination. But if she does, she runs the risk of offending swing voters in the general election.
I wrote the same thing last June -- nice to see the WSJ taking a cue from me (although to be fair, this is pretty obvious to just about everyone -- surprised it took this long for someone else to write about it).
And then we have San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, admitting to an affair with the wife of one of his closest advisors.
And already the same lefties who snickered and sneered at Evangelical leader Ted Haggard's indiscretions last fall are falling all over themselves to excuse Newsom.
"Why is this a public matter?" huffs Arianna Huffington, noting that the parties involved weren't doing it on the public's dime.
Could she be that dense? It mattered with Republican Bob Packwood did it. It mattered when Bill Clinton did it. It certainly matter when Jim McGreevy did it. It matters because character matters.
It matters because if the people closest to our elected officials can't trust them, how can we?
And it becomes the public's business the instant an elected official takes the oath of office and swears to serve in an ethical and honest manner.
At least Newsom didn't go all McGreevy and make excuses for his behavior -- he admitted his guilt and apologized. Be curious to see how he follows that up to make amends -- will he resign?
The most likely outcome? BOOK DEALS.
One for the scumbag major. One for the wife-victim. One for the cuckolded confidant. And one for the floozy.
I'm betting Newsom get a six-figure advance.
In the meantime, Haggard's accuser was welcomed at the former pastor's church this week, with members shaking his hand and thanking him for coming forward with the truth. I wonder what Arianna thinks of that? (Not really -- I don't care what she thinks).
Correction: I didn't follow the time-thread on the Newsom affair properly. Apparently Newsom and his wife divorced before the beginning of the affair. This may not affect her book deal though.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
His platform was clear -- withdrawing from Iraq and allowing it to continue to devolve into disaster would be an unacceptable failure, one that would surely embolden the terrorists.
And his plan is straightforward -- quell the insurgency and hold the Iraqi government accountable for its progress.
Politically speaking, this is his last chance to get it right -- if allied forces don't crush Al Qaida and sectarian militias swiftly and definitively, the GOP will be the losers in the next presidential election.
The Democrats have problems of their own however. They've squawked about the additional troops and made noises about blocking funding, but they don't dare. That would make them look like don't support our troops.
They also failed to provide an alternative plan -- apparently they haven't figured how to run away and abandon our allies without looking like cowards.
"Don't flap your arms so much. And don't run with your knees up so high. And for the love of gravy, stop shrieking!"
So if the president succeeds, the Dems are the losers in 2008.
If they block the extra troops and he fails, everyone gets the stink on them, and 2008 is a foodfight.
The America public may be tired with the war and impatient with the situation. But the one thing they won't tolerate is failure.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
It won't be long before the anti-war crowd will be pimping this figure as further proof that Iraq is a catastrophe, spiraling out of control and destined to failure.
But it's not necessarily so. The Iraq conflict actually has the lowest casualty rate of any war in U.S. history. And while Reuters says December was the deadliest month in the war, American combat deaths have declined every year since the invasion.
-- During WWII, we lost 3,000 soldiers on D-Day alone;
-- Three times that many were killed at Gettysburg during the Civil War;
-- Ten times as many American troops had been killed by this time in the Vietnam War (the original "quagmire" -- and a Liberal adventure, incidentally) .
I hate to boil it down to a simple comparison of numbers -- it seems so callous and cold. It is a tragedy every time an American soldier is killed. But if the anti-war guys are going to use the numbers for their purposes, someone has to put them in perspective.
There is no question the situation in Iraq is very bad, could get worse, and may ultimately lead to defeat. But the casualty rate is not one of those proof points.