Friday, February 24, 2006

The cluless-ness of Richard Cohen

This is pretty much the most clueless thing I have read this week and this statement from his op-ed demonstrates the depth of his clueless-ness:

Writing is the highest form of reasoning.

Rich can't do math and so it is a waste of time to know how. Heck, that is why we have calculators and computers, right? Please tell me you are kidding! Just because you can string a few words together does NOT mean you can reason. You column is adequate proof of that! I hate to break it to you but writing is how you express your ability to reason. It is the thought process that is reasoning, not the ability to write it down. The ability to write is a skill just like math. What algebra does is help teach reasoning in the abstract. Helps one to learn to analyze a problem, apply rules, think it through and resolve & solve it. Expecting someone to be able to do simple (yes simple) high school level algebra before they can graduate is not too much to ask, not even from a journalist.

The Colorado Kid

Read Stephen King’s “The Colorado Kid” last night and I enjoyed it. Big surprise there as I am a fan of King’s writing. It is not his usual fair but it does fit in. It is a novelette and more in line with his earlier work under the Bachman pseudonym. It is not a supernatural tale but it is a mystery. One of the things I like about King’s writing is his attention to the most unusual details. In this story (and this gives nothing away so don’t worry) it is a Russian(?) coin that is found in a man’s pocket. Didn’t really need to be there but by having it in the story, King added that extra little something to make it seem more real, more possible. He does that a lot. Other than the location of the story (you write what you know) I did not catch any cross-tie-ins to his other stories though I could have missed it. A good, unusual little story to fill an afternoon with.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Some really great advice...

I have to agree with each point he makes, for the same reasons he uses:

  • If you must be a criminal don't be a con man
  • Never fall victim to envy
  • Don't expect life to be fair, because it's not and never will be

I will add one piece of advice of my own and it is just for the men...

  • Just pee sitting down

I am being very serious here. You will make your spouse, mother, daughter, girlfriend, significant other (all of the ladies in your life) so much happier than you could ever imagine. That one thing, which is no big thing to you, is a HUGE thing to them. So do them a favor and just sit down.

Well this is kind of geeky cool

Space Antenna Design Evolved by Hive of Borg

Eighty PCs running artificial intelligence software used “survival of the fittest” principles to evolve a tiny antenna that will be used on a space mission next month. NASA called the group of computers a “Borg computer collective.” After starting with a random antenna design, the hive of computers spent just 10 hours going through millions of possibilities for a space antenna. The group settled on a design that looked pretty much like a bent paper clip, determining that shape as the most efficient for the mission. According to NASA, the odd-shaped antenna perfectly matches the performance that NASA specified.

But what if you don’t think a bent-up paperclip makes a good space antenna? Tough. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

‘Borg’ Computer Collective Designs NASA Space Antenna

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Dick Cheney goes hunting

I can’t say that I agree with the general ‘right side’ consensus on this incident. I think that the ‘clown suit’ was a bit over the top and Begala should have acted more professional but everything he said was correct. That Dick Cheney is the person ultimately responsible for what occurs before, during and after he pulls the trigger of a gun. Cheney did shoot a man and Cheney could have killed a man. Not in self defense. Not protecting his life or property. The VP was out relaxing and enjoying himself. That is the least stressful time to be handling a fire arm and he messed up big time. I am also not saying that he should be charged with a crime, resign or any other such thing. It was an accident. Accidents do happen though this was a completely preventable accident. He does deserve to get raked over the coals over this. I do not agree with much that has spewed forth from the press or the left (like this crass statement from S. & J. Brady) but he did do wrong. He then compounded that wrong by not coming clean sooner about what happened and when.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


I am fortunate enough to work for a company that allows some telecommuting and to be in a position where I actually can do it some times. I try to save these “stay at home” days for when I have a large amount of paper work to catch up on (like today). Between a laptop, cable modem, VPN, and cell phone, it is almost like being in the office except not nearly the same level of distractions and interruptions. The phone system we use at work is integrated into the email system so when someone leaves a voice mail message, it gets put into your email in-box and you can listen to it either on the phone or through the computer. Very handy when you do a fair bit of traveling (or occasionally work from home).

Monday, February 13, 2006

The mice that roared...

Howard Dean, the New York Times, Pres. Jimmy Carter, Martin Sean, etc. are rather upset at the current president for illegally wiretapping1 the phone conversations of American citizens. They are also mad at him for Abu Ghraib prison and for illegally detaining non-combatants2 while waging his war on terror.

Where is the equal measure of outrage for Castro, Kim Jong II, and Saddam Hussein3? These leaders of their respective countries routinely spy on their own citizens. They routinely hold their citizens indefinitely for political crimes, that is if they don't just make them disappear. And despite what the MSM would lead one to believe, U.N. inspectors documented Saddam's torture chambers4, rape chambers and mass graves. North Korea is starving to death because of one man's will to hold on to power at any cost.

Where is the outrage at these murderous regimes? Where are the editorials, the protest, and the calls for justice and the crying for the suffering? That this group and those like them can howl endlessly for the alleged fall of America but can spare not one word for those that are truly oppressed and truly suffering and have no voice says all that need be said as to the character and motives of those that scream on.

1) Allegedly as this is still being investigated as to if it is criminal or not. According to the president, members (red and blue) of the congressional intelligence committee were routinely informed of the program and its' progress and the president's position is that this was authorized by congress outside of the Patriot Act. Supposedly only international calls to and from those with known ties to terrorist were/are being monitored. Oh, and Pres. Bill Clinton ran a much more extensive domestic spying program that was much more inclusive and indiscriminate but you don't hear much about that.

2) Allegedly again as the president feels this action does not overstep his authority and is still being investigated and ruled on (he lost some and he won some).

3) Oh, never mind about this one, he is not doing this any more but he was until the US made him stop.

4) I mean REAL torture. Spanish inquisition kinds of stuff like having your nails ripped out, bones broken, fed into wood chippers, raped, etc. Not frat boy stuff, like being made to wear woman's panties on your head or having to sit around naked for a bit.

Friday, February 10, 2006

1 large person + 1 small plane = big trouble...

OK, here we go again. The background is (please feel free to follow the link and review for your self) a large woman is upset at Southwest for requiring that she purchase a second seat ticket before they would let her board the plane. Part of her complaint is that the policy is applied in a non-uniform manner (valid) and that the decision to require or not require the additional seat is made by the gate attendant (not valid and I will tell you why) and that the policy was difficult to locate on their web site (valid). What really got me though was this passage:

But you know what? I didn’t choose the plane. The airline did. This situation is caused by the space, not by my body, just like access to public spaces for people with mobility impairments is impeded by curbs and stairs and narrow bathroom doors, not by the wheelchair itself. Of course, the airline is under no obligation to design a plane that suits me, but if they are offering a particular service which I purchase a ticket for, and I am willing to suffer temporary discomfort for the benefit of traveling swiftly to a distant destination, isn’t that my decision, not theirs?

What? “This situation is caused by the space, not by my body…” You mean to say that you are one of those rare individuals who actually have a glandular disorder and it is through absolutely no actions on your part, that you are the size you are? If that is the case, you may have a point and please accept my apologies and you can stop reading now.

Then there was this gem: "Why is any other passenger’s comfort and right to travel affordability more important than mine"?

OK, first off, the ability to freely travel is a right, but there is no right to air travel. Today, most people assume it is but it is not. You use the airline at their discretion and they have the right to refuse service to anyone. If you do not feel that it was fair that they refused you service, you have the right to sue them for redress. Also, you are not the only one on the plane. There will be others there as well that will need to maneuver in the same area that you do. Someone will need to sit next to you (if you do not purchase a second set) so what about their expectation to be able to make use of all of the space that they have paid for? If you are of a size that a belt extender is needed, that means that you will not easily fit into the set dimensions. You will “over flow” to the sides. That means that the person that is seated next to you will not be able to have full use of their space. How is that fair to them? I have had the occasion to ride on an airplane next to a larger than average person on more than one occasion and it is NOT fun. I am not referring to the individual persons, I am referring to being turned into a sardine in MY seat, the seat that I paid for and do not get full use of. The extra seat (you did not want to buy) was to give everyone ample (or at least their expected) room.

As to your issue with the gate attendant making the call as to the need for a second seat, the gate attendant is the guaranteed last person to see the passengers before the plane leaves. They are in the best position to know the capacity of the plane and the availability of seating. They should make the call.

Thursday, February 9, 2006


This column contains one of the best descriptions of a real “rights” that I have run across recently:

…a right is something that exists simultaneously among people and imposes no obligation on another. For example, the right to free speech, or freedom to travel, is something we all simultaneously possess. My right to free speech or freedom to travel imposes no obligation upon another except that of non-interference. In other words, my exercising my right to speech or travel requires absolutely nothing from you and in no way diminishes any of your rights.

ABSOLUTELY 100% CORRECT! Thank you so very much! Coming across this column and this passage was like finding an oasis in the desert. I am just so very tired if hearing every single special interest group in the world prattling on about this or that so-called right. The right to a place to live, a living wage (what ever that is), medical care, food, Internet access, WiFi access, ad nauseam. It is like grand sale day at John’s Bargain Store with all the claims for these rights.

I FEEL that everyone should have all of these things but I also FEEL that they should have them as a result of their own EFFORTS, not as a result of a third-party agency (i.e. the government) taking something away from one person to give to another, that the other already has equal access to (just not the means to buy it). For example, the prescription drug benefit that is getting all kinds of attention right now. It is decried as not doing enough to help old folks with their medicine. I am sorry but why is it a mandatory requirement for me to help someone else pay for their medicine? I have insurance that helps pay for mine. I have insurance because I have a job. I do a good enough service for a company that they continue to employee me and pay me money every week. I use this money that I earned to pay for things I want and need. I also set money aside for when I am old and/or out of work. This is called planning for the future. I do all of these things because I am a responsible person and wish to make decisions for myself and take care of myself. If I don’t happen to have enough money for all the things I want or need then I have to make choices, set some priorities and live with the consequences of those choices.

Because not everyone is like me and actively taking responsibility for today and tomorrow, the government takes some of the money that I earn and gives it to others that are less prepared for today and the future. The government does other things to help the country to operate but it seems to spend less and less time, effort and MY money doing what it was originally designed to do and instead is spending more and more time, effort and MY money trying to be grandma to everyone.

The only real right everyone in this country actually has is the right to FAIL. The right to try to make a life for yourself and your family and to fall flat on your face in that effort. You also have the right to pick yourself up, dust your self off and try again. You do not have a right to expect anyone to help you or for the government to give you anything because you don’t think something is fair. Life is not fair but generally speaking, it is what you make of it.

Monday, February 6, 2006

Stephen King, Cell

I just received a copy of Stephen King's Cell as a gift. I am looking forward it quite a bit. I did not even know he has written a new book. From the book jacket, it sounds to be along the lines of “The Stand” but that is just a first impression. I will try to post a review when I have finished reading it.

I like King's writing a lot and have enjoyed his other books a great deal. His Dark Tower series was very engaging. I appreciate King’s writing style. He can be very succinct in his descriptions and word usage. Many writers will use 150 words to tell you 100 words worth whereas King can get the same accomplished in 75. He also has very expansive stories. They are not ‘drawn out’ to fill pages, there is just a lot to tell. I like that. A Stephen King story is big enough to sink your teeth into and take a big bite. No nibblers here!

1776, the book

I finished reading 1776 by David McCullough this weekend. Found it quite interesting. If you are not familiar with this book, it is touted as an accurate account of the first year of the war for independence. It relies heavily on material from that period and includes copious references. It is written in a conversational style with excerpts from actual letters, documents, diary entries and newspaper articles. It is not at all dry reading. I would look forward to a follow-up book that covered the entire war in this style and to this level.

Friday, February 3, 2006


I have decided to join the ranks of those blogs that are posting the Muhammad cartoons in support of free expression and in support of the Denmark press. I am doing this for one main reason. No group, under any circumstances should be able to dictate limits to my first amendment rights without a very strong national security reason. It is one thing to expect those that exercise their right to free expression to use that right responsibly. It is quite another to have a group that goes out of its’ way to exercise that right to denigrate other groups but can not stomach even the smallest showing in return.

And as to the excuse/argument that it is the equivalent of a mortal sin in Islam to show an image of Muhammad, I say bunk to that! There is ample proof available to show that this ‘rule’ is selectively enforced, at best. Check out this site for a start and Google from there.

Update 2/6/2006:
I have been following this story like a lot of people that are ‘browsers’ and have read opinions on both sides of the discussion. On the one hand you have those that say that publishing the cartoons is wrong because it offends Muslims. On the other hand you have those who say so what, it is called freedom of speech. I chose to post the cartoons for the reasons stated above and I still believe that it was and is the right thing to do.

I can understand the position of those that say (as do I) that with rights come responsibilities but I also say, you can not have it both ways. The Arab press is constantly publishing the most vile, hurtful and hateful stories, cartoons and lies of Israel, Jews and Christians. They don’t seem to see anything wrong with that. So satire is not the problem It is also (despite what you might have heard or read, see top of this post) not uncommon to see images of Muhammad in Arab countries as well as the rest of the world. So that is not the problem either. The problem seems to be that it was done by Westerners, at this particular time. As others have said, if you find the material offensive, you can do what every other individual or group does when it feels wronged in a CIVILIZED SOCIETY, you write a letter, hold a protest, and/or boycott. You do not do as has been done, riot in the streets, burn a few buildings, and threaten a bunch of other innocent people with death and destruction.

Oh well, just another ho-hum day in the life of the religion of piece…

Update 2/16/2006:
I have wanted to update this story with more recent information and did not get a chance until now. For anyone that does not know. The big picture on this appears to be that a Danish newspaper printed the twelve cartoons shown above back in September of 05. At that time some Danish imams got upset and tried to start a ‘row’. It quickly fizzled out and nothing came of it. The imams then decided that if they could not get any traction in Denmark, that they would try their luck in the Middle East. To help explain their case, the imams put together a pamphlet on the cartoons and (their view of) the prevailing sentiments toward Muslims, in Denmark. As the cartoons were rather bland, even by Muslim standards, the imams decided that the pamphlet needed a little ‘spicing up’ and they added three additional cartoons/images to it that were NEVER published in any paper in Denmark or anywhere else. In fact, one of the three was not even about Mohammad. It turns out to be a very pixilated photograph of a Frenchman in a hog calling contest. There is also some concern as to the true origins of the other two added items. Regardless, the imams took their ‘enhanced’ pamphlet on a road trip to the Middle East and showed it off to a number of the local imams. These local imams then whipped up their followers into the blood thirstily rage that was shown in various videos and news stories. As people have died/been killed, buildings and cars burned and lives directly and indirectly threatened, calling the rage blood thirsty is not over the top.

It is not clear whether any of the actual folks doing the rioting have seen any of the original cartoons or not, as very few if any of the papers in the Middle East will run them. There is also much confusion in America about the cartoons as very few U.S. papers will run them. If anything, this situation helps to demonstrate that more information is better than less. Either out of fear and/or sensitivity, most news organizations have not run all of the original cartoons nor have they deeply covered this story. This leaves the facts to speculation and allows some to take advantage of the situation. How many of those that are involved in the rioting and protesting would still be there if the full truth were known? I am not saying that there would not be some response just that we do not know how much more restrained it would be if all of the truth were known. Part of what gives these imams their power is ignorance and bowing to fear or sensitivity as opposed to truth feeds that power. As to if anything will happen to the original Danish imams for instigating all of this, no one knows. And that is the “rest of the story”.

Update 2/17/06:
The Danish cartoonist’ rebuttal is in stark contrast to the Muslim rebuke. Follow the link. "Gevoelig" means "sensitive" in Dutch.

Update 2/24/06:
U. S. Cartoonists fight back.
And other comments...

Update 3/1/06:
MANIFESTO: Together facing the new totalitarianism
and a very interesting rebuttal that is worth reading.

Update 3/14/06:
In his own words...

"I'm glad there was pain, and I wish there will be more pain," Moussaoui said. . . .

In a lengthy explanation of why he hates Americans, Moussaoui said Islam requires Muslims to be the world's superpower as he flipped through a copy of the Quran searching for verses to support his assertion. He said one verse requires Muslims "to fight against all who believe not in Allah."

Update 5/26/06:
Something has happened to the photo links but they are fixed now.