Thursday, March 22, 2007


Next round.

I broke my elbow a couple summers ago and that hurt. I broke an ankle and a finger and lost two teeth in a drunken brawl and had a bad toothache. But nothing compared to that day at Geauga Lake amusement park in Aurora, Ohio.

I must have been 15 years old because Scott Shinault and I were there by ourselves, no parents, which must have meant that he drove. I have a September birthday and was always the youngest kid in my class and was therefore the last to get a driver's license. Toward the late afternoon we got in line for the cable cars that ran high over the length of the park and ran into two girls from our class. Scott fancied the one so we split up with he and Tammy in one car and me and Marlana in the next. Halfway across the park, the cars all stopped. And they stayed stopped. For ten minutes. For an hour. For two hours...

Now I happen to have a small bladder. I guess this is genetic because my older son shares the same affliction. So shortly into our wait, I find I have to pee. As the wait grew longer and longer, the pain grew more and more intense. I started examining my options. I didn't have a cup to pee in, which I could then dump out. Besides, I knew from our contests at home filling up a plastic container that I might overflow the cup and that would not be cool. But I didn't have a cup anyway. I could pee in the car but that would be disgusting. I could pee over the side, which would bring full relief, but that would draw a great clamor from the gawking crowd below. A crowd had gathered because by now the fire department was on hand, rescuing people using its ladder truck. I was not a kid who wanted any special attention, especially if that attention focused on my flaccid weiner or bodily elimination. The local news team was on site with reporter and camera. So what could I do? I just held it and moaned and waited for that ladder.

Well, my car happened to be stuck at the highest point so they rescued everybody else first. What am I going to do, yell to the firemen, "Hey, I have to pee really bad! Can you get me next?" Before the women and children. And suffer the jokes that would hound me forever. No way. So two hours into this ordeal, and having run out of witty banter about 90 minutes ago, here comes the ladder. It scrapes the bottom of our car. It is not quite long enough. They have to call in a longer ladder. You have got to be kidding.

The pain grows ever more intense. Fast forward 30 minutes. The new ladder is positioned and up comes Fireman Joe. Of course I have to let Marlana go first. Now you know when you really have to go, how you want to contort yourself into a ball to keep the dam from bursting? Try that on your way down a very long ladder. So eventually I'm on the ground, and people want to ask me if I'm okay and apologize and all that. All I want to know is where is the men's room. They point and I gimp in that direction. I manage to make it to the urinal, and of course all I want to do at that point is get my zipper down and unload, and you know how when you're so hyperfocused on something, you don't do it right, and of course I started unloading before my zipper was quite down, but at that point I didn't really care. At that point it was a wonderful transition from the most pain to the most joy.

And that is the most pain I have ever been in. For my trouble, a park official gave me a coupon for free french fries, which irks me to this day.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

SICK OF: THE CONSTANT ANALYSIS: Every little thing no matter how insignificant has a full airing out in the 24 hours new cycle. I don’t care how many U.S. attorneys were fired and I don’t care what Gonzalez has to say or what Schumer has to say. This is not a real issue but just something to talk about. I’m not sure there is any news. I haven’t heard any for a long time and I don’t seem to miss it.

CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF: RICKY GERVAIS: The American version of THE OFFICE is the only sitcom I watch and yet it lacks all the subtlety and British nuance that made the original so entertaining. I just finished watching both seasons of EXTRAS and Gervais is funny again, albeit somewhat cruder than American TV fare. His stuff is politically incorrect and sometimes surprising in its vulgarity, other times funny in its simplicity.

SICK OF BUD SELIG: This guy should run for Congress where his duplicity and influence could be absorbed into a system of gridlock.

Now I can have every movie in print on my doorstep in 2 days with no late fees. I read once that today’s American lives better than any 19th century nobleman. Netflix allows me to live as well as any 1930s studio mogul.

SICK OF: THE AIRPORT SCREENING SYSTEM: Anyone who sees an old lady being searched at the airport while Ahmed moves briskly though asks either consciously or unconsciously, “Are we really at war?” The administration’s unwillingness to profile ethnicity makes the war seem unserious. You don’t have to search every Middle Eastern man, but is there any reason for a half-ass search off Mildred other than to send a message that we play no favorites? The media’s effectiveness in disparaging the war was easy because Bush created a soft middle by not making the tough decisions domestically. This seems to be a war that we’re willing to lose if it means that we have to hurt some feelings.

It might not be the most pleasant shopping experience, but I don’t care for shopping in general, and Wal-Mart is inexpensive and they have everything. The lines may be longer than at the expensive place, but think of it as a job and they’re paying you to be there. I bought an alarm clock last week for $5. Air conditioner filters for half the normal price. Other stores have had to become more efficient to compete with those prices so even if you have never stepped into a Wal-Mart your life is better for their existence. If you're poor, Wal-Mart has done more to raise your standard of living than any government program. When you walk through the door, imagine punching a time clock. When you walk out, figure how much money you just earned for your time. And remember, money saved is tax free unlike money earned. Also, offering someone an at-will job is not victimization no matter if the elite critics wouldn’t like to do the job themselves.

SICK OF: HOME OWNERS ASSOCIATIONS: They purport to be the savior of your property, but they collect money to make you do more work. It’s like the inmates taking up a collection to pay the warden. I got a letter from my old Home Owners association months after I sold my house threatening me if I didn’t immediately pay my late association dues.

CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF: HDTV: I’ve seen more football this past year than the previous 5 years combined. A simple up-conversion DVD player ($100) boosts movies to a level where you can easily ignore Blue Ray and the latest expensive fad. I don’t miss going to the movies anymore because the effort doesn’t always seem worth it unless I can see more than one film for my hassle.

SICK OF: THE POLITICS OF LANGUAGE: Understanding one another is the hallmark of progress. In our society today, anything perceived as remotely offensive gets re-defined so that we don’t quite know what we’re talking about. The imprecision of our language is supposed to make people feel good, but is that a worthy trade-off for not understanding one another? Ask the man on the street to explain the difference between undocumented worker and illegal alien and they won’t be able to tell you that they’re the same thing. They must be different because he knows what an illegal alien is. The new term does nothing but give someone a standing they don’t actually have. With time, the new terms will catch-up and become pejorative too. “Undocumented workers” will at some point be as vile sounding as “illegal alien.” Eventually we’ll have to revert to grunting so as not to upset people’s sensibilities.

CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF: THOMAS SOWELL: Read any of his books and they’re direct and eye-opening. You’ll be surprised at how much he can teach you on any subject. His column yesterday cuts to the heart of what we’ve been complaining about in this thread. He speaks of why he can no longer stand talk shows:
If either a guest or the host has a pointed question that cuts to the heart of the issue at hand, the first thing the person on the receiving end is likely to do is sidestep the question, saying something like "That's not the real issue" -- and go back to expounding his prepackaged talking points.

All that you learn from watching these kinds of "debates" is how clever some people are, how fast on their feet, and how big a supply of rhetoric they have.

SICK OF: RIGHTS: We have a right to everything as long as someone else is paying for it. What we don’t have a right to are those basic things in the constitution like speech, religion and fire arms. If you’re not a citizen, and not wearing a uniform of a national Army, and you’re caught killing Americans you will no doubt have more rights in the United States court system than a guy in the panhandle who gets caught dumping fill dirt on some swampy land in his backyard.

CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF: FRIENDSHIP: They make the good thing better and bad thing easier to deal with.
I'll come out of hibernation to play this fun game.

SICK OF: Media Bias. I long for the grand old days of the inherent liberal bias that conservatives could see right through. Nowadays, you have FoxNews, which is so biased it proudly proclaims it, and CNN which is so convinced that it is unbiased that they waste my time in trying to constantly prove it. Conservatives used to talk about the media bias amongst themselves and we all understood, but we could see the real story behind the bias. Now, everybody's always bickering about media bias and the real story just gets lost in the noise. Debates are being cancelled, talking points are being repeated ad nauseam - bleck - I wish they would just report the news and let me filter out the bias on my own.

CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF: Tivo. Watching television used to be a soul-draining experience, but now it is much more like surfing the internet - an active experience. I can watch The Daily Show in ten minutes by fast-forwarding whenever I see Rob Riggle appear onscreen. I can watch poker tournaments at double speed if I am uninterested in the commentary, because I just want to see how the players play their cards. I can even watch a baseball game in the span of one beer. In a way, I am watching more TV than ever before, but the quality of my viewing has increased tenfold. Tivo knows I like The History Channel and it delivers an endless stream of interesting programming for me to decide if and when it is worth viewing. I've just begun recording Jeopardy, which Marci and I watch when she gets home from work - without that six-minutes of dead time between Double and Final Jeopardy. With Tivo, life is good.

SICK OF: Hype. We are all overloaded with information. It is difficult to tune out for any period of time without really missing something or at least perceiving that we are missing something. Our daily schedules are loaded with a myriad of downloads - headlines, boxscores, Tivo progams, emails, etc. There is so much information with which to interface, most of it ultimately meaningless, yet it fills our hours. I enjoy writing emails and perusing boxscores, and watching The History Channel, and keeping up on news, but what I wish would go away is the stuff that really doesn't matter to me. Everybody's got something to sell and we are bombarded with advertisement from dusk to dawn and some of it is now unrecognizable as advertisement so we take it in just in case it is important. I really don't care who's on Dancing with the Stars, I don't care what girl groups think of our president, I don't care if Oprah was duped by her book club, I don't care who fathered Anna Nicole's baby, I don't care that James Cameron found Jesus' tomb, unless he really did, then it's actually news.

CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF: Baseball Season. I am defined by my hobbies - poker, movies, ufology and baseball. 90% of my time is spent researching or actively engaging in these pursuits. Three of them can happen year round, but only baseball has a season, which allows me the ecstasy of March, when the season is in sight and the rotisserie drafts begin. I am not much of a sports fan like most guys. I only really care about baseball and I care about it enough that I would rather spend the off-season watching highlights of the winter meetings than any basketball game. To a sports fan, March means college basketball, but to me, it always means spring training. I love being involved with fantasy baseball which make the games even more meaningful to me as I track the players in whom I've vested my own success. After a four-year absence, Tom has come back into the fantasy baseball fold and his enthusiasm and excitement for the upcoming season increases mine. We are pals even without it, but now we are once again playing together in the same sandbox as pals should.

SICK OF: Primary Season. Isn't Bush still going to be president for a couple of more years? Who are these people making headlines every day as they hold conversations with America, engage in straight talk and whatever else they are doing? I couldn't care less about these people. The fact that they are on the nightly news this far in front of the election is just a daily reminder that money buys elections. Joe Schmo who listens to the radio in his car on the way to his bartending gig hears the same names over and over for months and months before it is time to cast a vote. He doesn't know what the heck the names represent, but he knows one guy is black, one guy is a woman, one guy served in Vietnam, and he will base his decision on which guy he wishes he was. For those of us who actually want to hear what these people think about things, we have to filter through all the nonsense about adultery and draft-dodging and quotes taken out of context and yada yada yada. I am perfectly happy if all these people just go away and appear only on stage for televised debates. Oh yeah, they can't even do that right.

CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF: Vegetables. I loathe exercise but I love eating. For what I lack in physical exertion, I have always tried to make up for in nutrition. Alas, I was not eating my fair share of vegetables. If you could wheedle all the nonsense in diet fads down to one word, they would all be reduced to "vegetables". If you could only eat one sector of the food pyramid for the rest of your days and you wanted a lot of days, you are best to go with vegetables. I was amazed when I moved to California and found the produce sections of supermarkets brimming with the freshest food I have ever laid eyes on. I am still intimidated by some of the offerings which I have never even heard of, but lately I've decided to just buy some random veggies and force myself to find ways to cook them once I get them home. Thanks to Google, I can instantly find half a dozen ways to prepare brussels sprouts as the oven preheats for dinner. I love the taste of nearly all vegetables and I hate wasting money, so buying a week's supply of veggies, then having them stare at me from the counter as they slowly decay goads me into action every day. I actually put a roasted pablano pepper on my turkey sandwich yesterday. Yum.

SICK OF: The GOP. I was born during Nixon and I remember Carter, but I only started half-way paying attention during Reagan. I loved that man enough to realize that Bush 41 was a disappointment but Bush 43 has me embarrassed to admit my affiliation. It's not even really Bush that I loathe but his administration as a whole and the party that rationalizes it. I was jubilant when the GOP took control of government, but in my mind, it was an extension of the Gingrich revolution. It took years for me to realize what a bad administration the current one is and now I just want it to go away. I don't agree with much of the Democratic agenda, but I recognize that our country needs a change and sadly they represent the only other possibility. I am hoping that Gingrich or somebody can come to the rescue but I fear that the Bush years have done such harm to the party that it won't be garnering the popular vote for some time to come, until it completely reinvents itself. The party is definitely growing away from me. In the previous state election cycle, I voted Republican for all the big ticket posts like governor and attorney general, but I voted straight Libertarian for all the jobs that represented a politician's first foray into public service. I figured if I did it, then maybe others did it, and over time, we might actually see some people in office who aren't beholden to the talking points.

CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF: Cosmology. It is the most fascinating subject in the known universe - the known universe itself. I know that all three of my Junto brethren believe in a personal God but I don't share this belief. I'm not saying there is no higher power, but I think most belief systems inject him into the improper place. The universe is a work of wonder and the emergence of life, while possibly random, seems more likely to be preordained by the very composition of the universe at the outset. Our universe is strangely conducive to the development of carbon-based life. As one cosmologist states, it is as if it knew we were coming. It is not simply that the universe is hospitable to us, it is more like it was designed with us in mind. There's really only two possibilities: either our universe is one of an inconceivably large array of mulitverses in which all the variables played out perfectly for the eventual emergence of intelligent life, or our universe was designed with the variables in place to eventually produce intelligent life. Whether the universe was designed by natural forces or a higher intelligence is really unprovable at this point, but in my opinion, if you are looking to inject a God into the equation, it is pre-Big Bang, since everything since then has been ticking along like clockwork with nary a divine intervention needed.

BONUS: I really can't say if it is good or bad, but I could watch this all day.

Great premise, Sir. It got me thinking and I created a list of my own. Dude and Manny?

SICK OF: Talk radio and the so-called political debate shows. The only place to hear real debate anymore is on C-SPAN and PBS. Everything is prepackaged talking points and no real exchange of ideas.

CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF: eBay. I know, how old school. I still enjoy the whole notion of the global garage sale. It seems I cannot think of an item so obscure that someone doesn’t have one for sale on eBay.

SICK OF: Blaming the white man. This is a corollary to Sir’s observation that every sitcom makes the white dad the doofus. I am glad that my collegiate studies primarily involved reading the classics, because the sociology, psychology, history, film studies and anthropology classes all made sure I came out blaming the white man. White men have been the source of much wisdom, accomplishment, and cultural and economic advancement, not simply much misery.

CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF: Excitebike 64. I am definitely not in the “early adopter” segment of the technology curve. Someone gave us an old Nintendo 64 console and a dozen games, and this motorcycle racing game has captivated my family for months.

SICK OF: TV generally. 40 channels, then 60, then 80, then 180, and still nothing to watch but Fresh Prince.

CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF: Nutella. The chocolate hazelnut spread is good on anything except fish.

SICK OF: Fat. But until I enjoy exercise more than I enjoy cookies, I will have to live with it.

CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF: Painting. We splashed some bold colors up in our son’s room and now I am looking at every wall with a fresh mental palette.

SICK OF: The 2008 presidential campaign. It seems like the frontrunners have been campaigning for years and we’re still six months removed from any real action. I am already tired of Hill and the Big O and McCain and Rudy, whose messages are so polished, and mostly empty, that I dread the thought of hearing them repeated for another year or more. Throw Pat Buchanan and Alan Keyes and Newt and Fred Thompson into the mix to liven things up, I’m beggin’ ya. But with the front-loaded primary schedule that requires half the electorate to vote by this time next year, it costs too much now for a candidate to compete, since they have to compete immediately on a national scale. The process now guarantees that only a big corporate candidate can win the presidency and limits my chances of hearing anything interesting or provocative from any candidate at any time. And don’t get me started on McCain-Feingold.

CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF: Who am I kidding? I eat it up. I want to stop and I can’t. I can’t. (sob)

SICK OF: Blaming the government. Government is not set up to solve our problems, it is set up to spend our money. Spread the word.

CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF: Baseball on the radio. I don’t care who’s playing, I just like the sound of baseball.

SICK OF: Wintry mix. I drove three hours in second gear last Friday night through a horrible mix of rain, sleet and snow. After each winter weather event I ask myself why, with all the wonderful sunny places in the US, I live in Pennsylvania. Someday I will not.

CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF: 24. It’s what every man wants to watch: action, suspense, testosterone, intrigue, fighting, gratuitous violence, beautiful women, dark meeting rooms, situational ethics, quick pacing, gunfire, explosions, sneaking around, mysterious technology, plot twists, insubordination, and the good guy beats the bad guys, all on DVD with a pause button, no commercials and no week in between jolts.

SICK OF: Controversial marketing. The hyper-salacious stuff, yes, but not just that. “The Passion of the Christ” got lots of free PR, whether by design or not, from the Jewish organizations that protested it. A few years later we have the Cartoon Network shutting down the city of Boston with suspicious devices hanging from bridges and in public spaces. Yesterday, an outcry regarding blood-spattered billboards promoting the new Elisha Cuthbert horror flick. Any news is good news as far as the marketing department is concerned, and controversy makes news. We haven’t seen the end of this trend by a long shot.

CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF: Please post!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


10. SICK OF: Girl Power and all it's incarnations. Man! Am I ever sick of this. How many neo-feminist, "I can do it man can hold me down" movies, TV Shows, books, Talk shows, etc do we need on this same old tired theme. It's getting to the point that even the young women who work as interns in my office complain about it.

9. CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF: American Idol. I must confess, this is the first season that I've seen any of these shows. Usually, if it's not SCI-FI based, I could care less, but I've seen all of this years season (Season 6) and now really get why people love this show. I find myself rooting for the performers and I really enjoy each weeks singing. This week (March 20) was British Invasion Week. My fantasy is to audition next year dressed as Al Jolsen singing, Michigan Rag "That Lovin RAAAAGGGG!!"

8. SICK OF: Tom Delay's Belly aching. He just came out with his memoirs. This is the guy who said the bloated federal budget, "Had been cut just about enough." He has the gall to blast his fellow conservatives for "not taking more advantage of the majority." These morons had 12 years to enact all kinds of legislation that could have made a serious change in the way we do things. The folks in Washington should take a look at how the GOP run Florida. This is where they get it right. I for one am glad that Delay is gone and look forward to something new/original from the Republicans. Unfortunately, I haven't really seen anyone rise to capture my imagination like Newt did in '94 with "Contract with America." The Republicans really in need of a "idea" man.

7. CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF: Those GIECO Caveman Commercials. What a clever way to poke fun of political correctness and the sensitivity of any group you can name. Genius!

6. SICK OF: Bush. I hate to say it, but I'll be glad to see him go. After more liberal-lite legislation than came out of the Clinton years, what do we have to show for it? At least we had some pretty good Supreme Court Appointments. Is it 2008 yet?

5. CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF: Those Deal or No Deal models. I like the way the march up the stairs. Number 13 is my favorite.

4. SICK OF: The way men/fathers are treated in Popular culture. The last group that is an easy target and can be made fun-0f with abandon is men. Even Black/Minority men are targets if the subject being attacked is their fatherhood. Look at any Commercial or show on Oxygen and you'll see the man portrayed as the fool, buffoon, idiot, etc. I need to watch some of those GIECO commercials again so I get over my hurt feelings. But are men really this inept? Come on!

3. CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF: Her love. I hit the big 5 year mark this year with my lovely wife. We spent 3 days at Clearwater Beach weekend after last. Delicious! (Sorry Tom).

2. SICK OF: Hillary Clinton and O'Bama. I hope to the sweet lord that Newt Ginrich gets the nomination because he'll absolutely debate circles around either. That alone would be work 4 years of Hillary.

1. CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF: The Junto Boys. This has been a great outlet for our rants. Thanks Tom of setting it up! Thanks Dude for being the first person I ever knew who read Ben Franklin's Autobiography and introducing me to the concept of Junto. Thank E for your brilliant insights. This blog really proves that there is some thoughtful (and not so thoughtful) discourse in the arena of ideas.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Occasionally I switch over to CNN and count the number of seconds before detecting liberal bias. It is rarely more than a dozen. Tonight, less than four, and only that many because it takes a few seconds (just a few) to pick up the thread.

First story, "as we enter the fifth year" of the Iraq war -- not "on the 4th anniversary" of its launch, as Fox News had just reported -- some video of soldiers adding armor to Humveed, "and why did it take so long," we are prompted to wonder. The only quote in this story was from an anti-war Bush-bashing somebody who parroted the "misled us into war, bad intelligence, WMD, no exit strategy" lines, the constant repetition of which have turned 70/30 support into 30/70 opposition among the American public.

Next, an interview with the mayor of Salt Lake City, who called today for the impeachment of President Bush due to "high crimes and misdemeanors." Again the "abuse of power, misled us into war" talking points, in case you missed them a moment ago. How in the world is the mayor of Salt Lake City a Democrat!??

The next segment interviewed a soldier who now regrets taking part in toppling the statue of Saddam.

Next story, a reporter reads from Ahmedinejab's anti-American blog. Do you have to be stationed in the Middle East to do that?

Next, a story on embattled Attorney General Gonzales.

But there is no liberal bias in the media and no agenda to take down President Bush.

Nothing on Bush's speech today, in which he reminded us of the stakes, not that anyone's listening any more. Bush is not news, only anti-Bush is news.
It can be tempting to look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude our best option is to pack up and go home. That may be satisfying in the short run, but I believe the consequences for American security would be devastating. If American forces were to step back from Baghdad before it is more secure, a contagion of violence could spill out across the entire country. In time, this violence could engulf the region. The terrorists could emerge from the chaos with a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they had in Afghanistan, which they used to plan the attacks of September the 11th, 2001. For the safety of the American people, we cannot allow this to happen.

And Victor Davis Hanson nailed it too in his review of "300":
Almost immediately, contemporary Greeks saw Thermopylae as a critical moral and culture lesson. In universal terms, a small, free people had willingly outfought huge numbers of imperial subjects who advanced under the lash. More specifically, the Western idea that soldiers themselves decide where, how, and against whom they will fight was contrasted against the Eastern notion of despotism and monarchy — freedom proving the stronger idea as the more courageous fighting of the Greeks at Thermopylae, and their later victories at Salamis and Plataea attested.

If critics think that 300 reduces and simplifies the meaning of Thermopylae into freedom versus tyranny, they should reread carefully ancient accounts and then blame Herodotus, Plutarch, and Diodorus — who long ago boasted that Greek freedom was on trial against Persian autocracy, free men in superior fashion dying for their liberty, their enslaved enemies being whipped to enslave others.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


New Orleans Mayor Ray "Chocolate City" Nagin has not learned much since his historic mismanagement of the Katrina crisis. In a recent speech, he advised blacks that the nefarious Man is still trying to keep them down.
"Ladies and gentlemen, what happened in New Orleans could happen anywhere," Nagin said at a dinner sponsored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a trade group for newspapers that target black readers. "They are studying this model of natural disasters, dispersing the community and changing the electoral process in that community. . . they dispersed all of our people across 44 states with one-way tickets."

Who is "they" who dispersed these people? The bus drivers? The nonprofits and churches and municipalities and family members who took in the refugees? Is he really suggesting that there was a systematically executed plan to take advantage of fortuitous flooding to change New Orleans from black to white? That the same government he accuses of inept bungling on the one hand was simultaneously masterminding the reshaping of a major U.S. community on the other?

Nagin can blame the feds for being slow to rebuild areas that shouldn't have been built in the first place--New Orleans was always a stupid place to put a city--but the reasons why people aren't returning is because, to come back, people need at least (i) a place to live, (ii) work, (iii) safety and physical security, (iv) services, and (v) economic security. Many also want family and community, a dynamic that may be irreparably shattered in the city.

I have a friend who left town and was not able to return for five months. He returned because he had just bought a house uptown, it sustained minimal damage, and his job was still waiting for him -- conditions that were not satisfied for many of the refugees, and even so, he had to make the decision whether to uproot his family again and make what amounted to another major life move. Another friend lost his house and four rental properties and spent months with relatives in western Louisiana, ultimately returning to his job at Tulane Law School when campus reopened for the Spring 2006 semester. Three or five or six months post-Katrina, each family unit (or voting unit, as Nagin sees them) had to decide whether the promise of New Orleans' recovery was plausible enough to leave the new life in which they found themselves. People were now working and renting in Lake Charles and Dallas and Nashville and Jacksonville and Birmingham, and their kids were enrolled in schools there, and maybe they were reuniting with relatives they had rarely had occasion to visit in the past. Times were tough, maybe, but they had new lives and a fresh start. To lure people back, it has been Nagin's responsibility to establish positive momentum, craft a message of progress and hope, and communicate it inside and outside his jurisdiction. At that he has utterly failed, instead continuing to play the race card and waiting for the government he says is trying to destroy him to come save him. Good luck with that.

People have a simple choice: they can make the new life they've already started, or they can return to New Orleans, which has better food, better music, and worse everything else.

What is Nagin's solution? None, just more boo-hooing about how all the problems New Orleans is experiencing under his (lack of) leadership are somebody else's fault, just like the bungled Katrina evacuation and his consistently horrible communications campaign have been somebody else's fault. Here the citizens are relying on government to help them, comfort them and make things right, and government is pointing fingers at other government. Meanwhile whitey is moving in with capital and entrepreneurial pluck, and city government, which should be supporting enterprise with all its heart and resources, instead can't quit complaining that the man is going to ruin it for the brothers. Sorry cats, but the history of America is the history of the man and profit motive. It's what built this country and it's what keeps it strong. Anyone who has ever experienced New Orleans government knows they ain't gonna fix nothing until they're good and ready, and they'll never be good or ready. The government consumes, the man produces. Look to the man to bring revitalization from the wreckage.

You can understand why Mr. Nagin is so upset - half his voters have left town, the half who remained have witnessed his failings firsthand (yet re-elected him, in classic New Orleans style), and half of the newcomers to the city can't read a ballot in English. The hell with rebuilding, he's got reelection to worry about.

(The diaspora of New Orleans, based on more than 40,000 postings on Internet "safe lists" by purported Katrina survivors.)
It is a testament to the strength and robustness of the American machine and to the man that Katrina did not cause more of a blip than it did. Likewise for 9/11 and every other natural and unnatural disaster that has afflicted the nation in recent years. We are a robust economy driven by profit motive and opportunity. Every shakeup creates both pain and opportunity. Nagin would be wise to focus on the latter.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


This thing with Gore’s crusade against greenhouses gasses coupled with his own behavior ($1300 power bills) is really disturbing. Especially since he frames the whole thing as a moral issue with his critics cast as deniers. If it’s truly a moral issue then buying carbon offsets is equivalent to the way medieval nobles would pay that Catholic Church for sin forgiveness. Any measure of success he gains on this issue will simply make it more expensive for middle class people to use power while the rich and elite like himself can continue to live their posh lifestyles.

Very little is mentioned in this debate is that Bush’s only home, his Crawford ranch is one-third the size of Gore’s and much more eco-friendly. Who’s modeling Thoreau? Gore doesn’t have that kind of personal commitment. He wants the commitment to come from the flock and he wants it legislated.

For all of Bush’s missteps, his vision of a re-shaped world is done with the purpose of greater human freedom. Gore’s vision relies on a restriction on the lives of normal people while the rich and elite continue to live it up. Or maybe even more suspect is the way that Gore wants his countrymen limited and he has nary a word for the Chinese and the impact to the planet they pose.

There are real environmental issues that should be tackled but the movement has been taken over by collectivists that see every solution in government power and personal loss of freedom. That’s what makes global warming so appealing to these people. Polluted air and rivers can be addressed and measured for success or failure so no real power can be gained in the long run once you convince people to act. Human impact of the weather patterns cannot be measured and no matter how much effort we put forward there can always be a cry that we’re not doing enough.

Gore interview:
Q. There's a lot of debate right now over the best way to communicate about global warming and get people motivated. Do you scare people or give them hope? What's the right mix?

GORE: I think the answer to that depends on where your audience's head is. In the United States of America , unfortunately we still live in a bubble of unreality. And the Category 5 denial is an enormous obstacle to any discussion of solutions. Nobody is interested in solutions if they don't think there's a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.

This is exactly what Gore accused Bush of a few years ago in leading us into Iraq . “He betrayed our country. He played on our fears.”

This world view says that bad people in the world that want to kill Americans either don’t mean it or they can’t kill enough Americans to make it worth our while to fight them. On the other hand, nebulous environmental data must be read in terms of the worst case scenario and American middle-class life as we know it should be altered accordingly.

Should a man who thinks it a moral issue continue to openly sin while pointing fingers at everyone else? It appears that he’s playing to the amen chorus in Hollywood or Academia. He’s basking in the adulation rather than patterning the prescribed life. Gore has become the mouthpiece of the latest socialist movement and you can tell by the company he keeps.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Although the media as a whole was full of glee over the Libby conviction, the underlying issues the case was supposed to be about have been dropped from the discussion. The Washington Post had a great editorial on the nonsense of the case, but I particularly liked what Jay Ambrose from Scripps News wrote:
Let's cut to the truth, as revealed in news accounts of the intelligence-committee probe. Wilson's report to the CIA included information that Iraq had made inquiries about doing business with Niger. CIA experts evaluating his words felt he actually had strengthened the argument that Iraq was trying to do a uranium deal. There was never a CIA report to the White House casting doubt on that proposition. The Bush speech, as Wilson himself said, referred to a British intelligence report. The British have never recanted what it said.

Wilson did not just write an op-ed piece or appear on TV shows. He also wrote a book that blasted the administration for leaks revealing that his wife worked for the CIA and saying she arranged for the trip. As definitely demonstrated by a memo she wrote, she clearly was the one proposing that he be sent on this eight-day fact-finding mission. Wilson was knowingly mistaken again, just as he has been on still more issues than there's room to delve into here.

He was right that the administration leaked the story that his wife worked at the CIA, however. There was nothing illegal about this. It is now widely agreed, for instance, that she was not a covert agent under the meaning of the law, and Bush had declassified the information about her, anyway. Some say the administration effort to expose the truth was overreach, but an administration needs the country behind it in war, and Wilson was fabricating material that could erode that support and getting national applause for his efforts. It's OK to put facts on the table.

With baseball season coming up, I was reading over some stats and came across these players.

7244 1071 2304 1085 .360 .477 6
7003 1007 2153 1099 .358 .471 9

They were contemporaries beloved by their teams and cities. Physical problems ended both careers. Guy #1 made the HOF in the first ballot, while guy #2 never got close. Physical ailments are so many times the end of spectacular careers though most guys are quickly forgotten. But why are some physical ailments penalized and others forgiven?

Sandy Koufax had 5 dominant seasons and it was enough for the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. In his other 7 seasons he was 54-53 with an ERA over 4.00. Overall he was 165-87 with a 2.76 ERA. Koufax won 3 World Series compiling a record of 4-3 with no run support and an ERA of 0.95. He retired at the age of 30 for his health despite having a great final season.

HOFer Bob Gibson was 251-174 – 2.91 - 3117 Ks. He dominated the World Series with a 7-2 record, 1.89 ERA and 92 Ks in 81 innings.

HOFer Juan Marichal 243-142 – 2.89 – 2302 K. Marichal only had one good season past his 31st birthday.

Jack Morris was (254-186) in his career and won more games than any other pitcher in the 1980s. Morris won World Series with 3 different teams compiling a 4-2 record. He won 2 games for the 1984 Tigers and 2 games for the 1991 Twins most memorably the Game 7 10th inning contest. The thing holding Morris back is his 3.90 ERA, but he pitched in a hitters era while the others had their great years when the league ERA was 3.50.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


I couldn't let pass this Sports Illustrated article linked by Drudge. Writer, Alexander Wolff, finds a way to get the global warming issue into a sports magazine by noting a couple of true-believers running their cars on bio-diesel and plans for new carbon-neutral stadiums. What I like is that the scientific community may be split (click here), but Sports Illustrated has closed the question.
Global warming is not coming; it is here. Greenhouse gases -- most notably carbon dioxide produced by burning coal, oil and gas -- are trapping solar heat that once escaped from the Earth's atmosphere. As temperatures around the globe increase, oceans are warming, fields are drying up, snow is melting, more rain is falling, and sea levels are rising.

You'd think a major magazine owned by a giant media conglomerate would have a fact-checker who would explain the difference between Global Warming purported to be the rise in temperature of 1 degree per 100 years and El Nino, a weather pattern that is the cause for the recent warming.

Global warming is also leading to more dramatic swings in the weather in some areas.

Really? Well Mr. Scientist, why only some areas if the whole planet is effected? Does that mean that global warming doesn't impact the whole planet?
A warming planet doesn't create hurricanes, but it does make them stronger and last longer. Tropical storms become more powerful over a warmer Gulf, turning a category 4 storm, for example, into a category 5, like Katrina, which transformed the symbol of sports in New Orleans, the Superdome, into an image of epic disaster.

Nice that he got the Superdome angle in there. It is a sports magazine remember? But if there was any question whether this was reporting or advocacy, let's note that he presented Katrina as a Category 5 storm that destroyed New Orleans when, in fact, the storm was only a category 3 when it reached land, less powerful than Andrew and even Opal. New Orleans was destroyed almost a day after the storm when the levees broke. And other than some wind damamge to the roof, the majority of damage to the Superdome was due to the people living inside it.
Unlike many other pressing environmental concerns -- pollution, water shortages, overpopulation, deforestation -- global warming is by definition global. Every organism on the planet is already feeling its impact.

Every organism is feeling it? I'm an organism and I don't notice it. Maybe he should have said sensitive organisms.
"There are many important environmental battles to be fought," says Bill McKibben, the Vermont-based writer, activist and passionate cross-country skier. "But if we lose this one -- which we're doing -- none of the others matter. It's crunch time."

Think about how closely this quote resembles Pat Buchanan's culture war speech at the 1992 convention. In fact, you could use Pat's issue by simply changing a few words. It's old-fashioned country preacher with a vision of Armageddon. The difference is that Buchanan was defending American culture, something the elite media doesn't value. The current preachers keep the approach and insert secular socialist ideas. They don't even hide it.
"In the environmental movement there's way too much preaching to the choir," says Ken Rakoz of Centralia, Wash., who built the first biodiesel-powered dragster. "There are people sitting on the fence, and Joe Sixpack doesn't really know about [biodiesel] until we do something like racing."

See, the man is a missionary trying to convert as many heathens as possible. In the old days, we gave the savages shiney objects and eventually firewater. Today's eco-church presents the firewater right away.

It seems like the current cult is trying to influence our government policy and so blatantly that it must violate the separation of church and state provision that I always heard about when Buchanan spoke.

Friday, March 02, 2007


On the 75th anniversary of the Lindbergh kidnapping, TIME selects the top 25 notorious crimes of the past 100 years.

Lindbergh Kidnapping
Mona Lisa
Fatty Arbuckle
The Black Dahlia

The Brinks Job
Lana Turner
The Great Train Robbery
Richard Speck
Tate Murders

Patty Hearst
Son of Sam
John Wayne Gacy
Ted Bundy
Art Heist

Jeffrey Dahmer
O.J. Simpson
Barings Bank
The Unabomber
JonBenet Ramsey

Versace Killings
Mary Kay Letourneau
Andrea Yates
The Scream

9/11 is conspicuously absent, but apparently "war crimes" fall outside the definition:
The Crime of the Century must strike at the most undefined and thus most vulnerable part of the soul: it must touch the messy unconscious, where all kinds of emotions meld into each other. Pity and envy are involved; desire and revulsion; fear and sometimes schadenfreude. And while each person has his or her own brew of emotions, we all recognize them. So our fascination with the crime becomes a populist mania: an obsession with the wreckage of the rich and famous, comeuppance for hubris, a communal grasping for a moral to a sordid tale. These horrible disruptions of ordinary life must be able to function as a way to order our most frightening thoughts, becoming cautions and lessons for the future.

At least the made-for-TV Scott Peterson case and the Scooter Libby witch hunt didn't make it.