Sunday, October 30, 2005

Halloween pumpkin carving!


My wife carved some pumpkins for Halloween... I had no idea how complex it was to do this! You need to buy a kit, and then tape it to the outside of the pumpkin, and carve it out bit by bit until the design takes shape. And of course you need to take all the seeds and gunk out first.

But the end product looks great!!

Radio Shack Employee From Hell

As many of you know I put up my first podcast yesterday on this blog. On my way home from work, I *needed* beer and the liquor store was right next door to a Radio Shack. I thought I would saunter in there and pick up a little higher tech microphone than the 10 year old Gateway model that I used in my first podcast that I found in the bottom of a pile of boxes in my basement.

The extremely overweight Radio Shack employee asked me if I needed help and I said that I was doing some podcasting and that I was interested in a new microphone for my computer. Anyone who has used one before knows that it has on the end a small jack, about 1/8" in diameter, as seen in this person's hand on the left.


The employee shuffled over to their microphone selection and showed me their microphones, all of which were designed for public address systems and had the old school headphone or PA plug, which you see here - obviously something that nobody could ever plug into a computer.

I decided to give it one more shot and asked her one more time if she had any mikes for use with a computer - and all I got was her showing me these same microphones.

I have deduced from this experience that:
1) this woman needed to lose about 200 pounds
2) She had no idea how a computer works
3) she certainly had no clue what a podcast is
4) she more than likely had less than a high school education

Now you would think that a company like Radio Shack would train their employees a bit better than that to help folks like me that need accessories for their computers, but maybe they have given up on that market altogether and have decided to train their employees on cell phones and speaker jacks instead. Or maybe the employee had no training whatsoever. Which would very quickly be the end of Radio Shack as a viable company. All I know is that I never have to go back there again.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Test Blog Using Microsoft Word Add in

Dan put the first podcast on our blog today, so I am trying to pick up the pace by installing the new add-in for Blogger where you can create posts using Word and then automatically publish them.

This will be far more efficient than the Blogger interface, because my connection keeps dropping, although the system seems much more stable than it was in the past.  The problem could be on my side, too.

Not that I am complaining.  Google gave us Blogger for free, and I for one think it has been a big success not only as a business (they get all those ads) but as a vehicle for self expression and communication.

Let’s see if this works…

Just tested it and it works fine!  Now there will be less excuse for not blogging, because I can put it in word and then just publish later.

I am going to add a URL… how about a link to the Wikipedia article on the lunatic new President of Iran, whose behavior (and the pathetic Canadian / European response to it) was the subject of a recent post.

Podcast #1

Yep, Life In The Great Midwest keeps bringing you the latest and greatest in cutting edge technology - or not. Anyway, I did my first podcast and you can listen to me drone for 8 minutes and 36 seconds here.

I used a service called podomatic and it was very easy to use - and free. Hope you like my first podcast - I may keep doing it depending on the amount of time I have. I have to admit I really liked doing it and it took a total of five minutes of prep work.

UPDATE: During the podcast I can't remember who George Dewey was and am so embarrassed! He was, of course the admiral of the US Fleet during the Spanish-American War who sunk the Spanish fleet outside of Manila. I love naval history and feel the Spanish-American War is one of my sweet spots - I can't believe I booted that one!

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Sham of Gun Buybacks and the Invasion of Privacy

On August 30 the Madison Police Department announced yet another of the infamous "gun buyback programs". These programs, should really be called "turn in your gun to us and receive a $50 gift certificate and get your privacy invaded without your consent programs" since they really aren't "buying back" anything in the fair market sense of the word. The data and research that everyone without a frontal lobe refuses to accept is that these scams have never worked to reduce gun crime, and never will.

At the press conference August 30, all of the local bigwigs got together for a nice feelgood session about the whole thing. In attendance were:

Madison Police Chief Noble Wray
Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager (now known as Keg Goldschlager for this)
Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz
Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard
A partridge in a pear tree.

Noble Wray said at the presser that:
a recent increase in gun violence led him to make the decision to run the buyback program. He abuses statistics in only the way a public official can,
stating:

In July of this year, the city had a 200 percent increase in gun
incidents over last year.
Really? As if Madison is the gun crime capital of the world. The increase was probably from two gun related crimes all the way up to four or something like that. As usual, no study or collection of data is cited so no verification of the statement can be done.

Wray also said:

The program is designed to get guns out of homes where they might be used in the heat of the moment.
But later he said:

The effort aims to make gun owners assess how safely their weapon is stored, and whether it's worth having in the home.
Ah, but wait - on October 21, after the program was over, Wray said this:

Wray said the program is intended to bring attention to gun violence, provide an opportunity to discuss gun violence and to promote gun safety.
Huh. Lots of different reasons. But wait, there's more.

On Sept. 3, a spokesman for the Madison Police Dept., Mike Hanson says the reason for the buyback is different:

In the 1990's, when programs like this were very popular, law enforcement oversold how it could reduce homicide, gun crimes and everything else, he said. We just want to get unwanted guns out of homes.
So we have several reasons now given for the program that the Madison Police came up with.

But the best one comes from UW Basketball Coach Bo Ryan, (a mighty fine coach, I might add) who adds this bewildering statement into the mix:

"Gun violence and people taking other peoples lives and causing bodily harm through anger -- there will never be an answer to it, the only thing you have here is you have actions," Ryan said.
My goodness, Bo - not the bodily harm card! I guess the Madison PD didn't give Bo the briefing.

But then there is more. This from Madison Police Chief Noble Wray again, this time August 29:

Police Chief Noble Wray said gun offenses last month was double what it was in July 2004, making a gun buyback program a proactive way to tackle the problem. "You see that Milwaukee is at a higher rate for homicide, and you'll probably see the same thing in Racine," said Wray. "So part of this is trying to get ahead of the curve, trying to get public awareness out."

I guess I just don't know what to make out of that statement. Public awareness? That gang bangers and drug dealers won't turn in their guns for $50?

From our elite Attorney General in the same presser on August 29:

Organizers of this week's effort in Madison say the buyback is just one solution to the problem. "How do you measure if a crime has been averted because someone didn't have a handgun or some sort of weapon available to them at a time of an angry moment, and that's a difficult measurement to find," said state attorney general Peg Lautenschlager.
Brutal. Handgun or some sort of weapon? Like a knife? Or a golf club? Or a baseball bat? Yes, Peg, these too need to be confiscated from my home in case I have an "angry moment" like when I read your next oration.

So we have proof here that the Madison Police Dept. and others associated with the gun buyback program are giving all kinds of reasons from all over the board why they are having a gun buyback program. Who cares, you ask? I do. All of the confusion is intentional because the plan is actually laid out quite well. There is really only one reason to have a gun buyback. That is to invade the privacy of citizens and disarm them - like all police departments want to do.

Do you really think criminals are lining up to turn in their weapons? Of course not. Mostly they were probably older men or women who simply have no use for the weapon anymore. But then what happens? Background check, serial number run, basic invasion of privacy.

Back to Bo, the expert on guns from August 30:

Ryan discounted studies that show no correlation between buy-backs and reductions in gun crime. He said the success of the program could come in ways that statistics can't measure, such as lives saved.
Actually, statistics can measure the total effect from this program. From the October 21 article:

None of the guns collected had been stolen or discovered to have been used in a crime, property room manager Jim Nikora said.
Well, yea.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Canada Speaks About Iranian Evil... and no one cares

Some topics are so shopworn that it is hard to get excited about blogging them. For example, pointing out all the political hacks on talk shows and how inane and stupid they are, well that has pretty much been done to death, and it is like shooting fish in a barrel.

For me, this article was a real eye opener, because, in like a "Seinfeld" story arc where 4 threads of a story come together in one conclusion (neatly), this single story has it all, so it is worth picking on the usual suspects.

Here is a link to the article - the basic jist of it is that the new President of Iran, a lunatic who was likely one of the hostage takers in 1979 when they took over the US embassy (and wiped out the presidency of Jimmy Carter, so something good came from it) came out and made the statement that "Israel... was an ugly blot... that needed to be wiped off the map".

Now on the one hand, good for this idiot President for just coming out and saying what all of the lunatics in the Arab world actually think - they want to exterminate and slaughter all of the Jews in Israel and make no bones about it. Short of wearing a T-shirt that says "I am Evil" really there is nothing more that the guy could do...

Well, what happens? The Europeans and Canada are UP IN ARMS! Why they even bring the Iranian ambassador in for a good tongue lashing. Maybe they will even send some nasty letters, and when the French / Russians are helping them evade US sanctions they may even make a small tsk-tsk while they do their work.

From the article:

And in Canada, Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew said in a
statement his country would "never accept such hatred, intolerance and
anti-Semitism. Never."

But what are the Canadians going to do about it? They have no military whatsoever any more, nor do the Europeans (with the exception of the British, who are helping us in Iraq, and the French, who need them to put out civil wars in their colonies, like they are doing in Ivory Coast).

Hey guys - wake up - remember when we named Iran as part of the "Axis of Evil"? Ever think why we did that - maybe because they are run by bloodthirsty mullahs who crave power and want to wipe Israel and the US off the map.

So here is where it all comes together, in the end:

1) Iran finally speaks into the "I am Evil" microphone in the most certain of terms, validating everything the US ever did in trying to intervene in the middle east for "regime change"

2) the pathetic, useless response of the Europeans and Canada to this obscene call for Israel to be exterminated only underscores their weakness and irrelevance

3) THEY DON'T EVEN GET IT that they are irrelevant and they love to make their sound bite comments - don't they even sense the irony? Can't they wink into the camera or something?

4) everyone in the US who is against the war will just kind of lay low for a bit, because even in the "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" algorhythm of the fervent anti-Bush crowd kind of breaks down when they really get a good look at the guys on their side, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and they better like dealing with men of his ilk because that is what the world will look like when the US puts their head back into the sand, when / if the Dems come back in power

88 Long Years

Congrats to the White Sox who overcome all doubters and Boston/New York loving baseball networks to power their way to their first title since 1917. What a season, what a team. I would love to see my beloved Brewers in there someday, but I'm not holding my breath. Photo courtesy ESPN.

What's the Difference?

I complain a lot about there not really being much difference between the Dems and Republicans in the Congress when it comes to fiscal issues. The vote a few days ago on the Coburn Amendment proves this.

For those who don't know what the Coburn Amendment is, it was to be inserted into the appropriations portion of the Treasury, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Bill (from redstate.org):

This amendment will transfer funding from the wasteful pork project, the “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska, to the repair and reconstruction of the “Twin Spans” bridge in Louisiana.
Sounds like a no brainer to me. But god forbid a senior senator from Alaska is denied his beloved pork projects. Spending continues uncontrolled in the Congress, which is controlled by Republicans. Thats Republicans, not Democrats.

According to published reports, the Alaskan pork project costs $220 million for a 5.9-mile bridge connecting Gravina Island (population 50) to the Alaskan mainland. The cost of the bridge alone would be enough to buy every island resident his own personal Lear jet.
Yep, $220m for 50 people to get around. Nice. All of the wailing and gnashing of teeth that the Democrats do every election cycle about smaller government is now out the window - they will have to find something else to base their ads on this time around. No matter. I will probably vote for neither party, more likely a third party like Libertarian or Constitution Party or maybe write myself in. Because Republicans are not conservative.

For those interested, here is the list of senators and how they voted on the Coburn Amendment:

Grouped By Vote Position
YEAs ---15
Allard (R-CO)Allen (R-VA)Bayh (D-IN)Burr (R-NC)Coburn (R-OK)
Conrad (D-ND)DeMint (R-SC)DeWine (R-OH)Feingold (D-WI)Graham (R-SC)
Kyl (R-AZ)Landrieu (D-LA)Sessions (R-AL)Sununu (R-NH)Vitter (R-LA)

NAYs ---82
Akaka (D-HI)Alexander (R-TN)Baucus (D-MT)Bennett (R-UT)Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)Bond (R-MO)Boxer (D-CA)Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY) Burns (R-MT)Byrd (D-WV)Cantwell (D-WA)Carper (D-DE)Chafee (R-RI)Chambliss (R-GA) Clinton (D-NY)Cochran (R-MS)Coleman(R-MN)Collins (R-ME)Cornyn(R-TX)Craig (R-ID)Crapo (R-ID)Dayton (D-MN)Dodd (D-CT)Dole (R-NC)Domenici (R-NM)Dorgan (D-ND) Durbin (D-IL)Ensign (R-NV)Enzi (R-WY)Feinstein (D-CA)Frist (R-TN)Grassley (R-IA) Gregg (R-NH)Hagel (R-NE)Harkin (D-IA)Hatch (R-UT)Hutchison (R-TX)Inhofe (R-OK)Inouye (D-HI)Isakson (R-GA)Jeffords (I-VT)Johnson (D-SD)Kennedy (D-MA)Kerry (D-MA)Kohl (D-WI)Lautenberg (D-NJ)Leahy (D-VT)Levin (D-MI)Lieberman (D-CT)Lincoln (D-AR)Lott (R-MS)Lugar (R-IN)Martinez (R-FL)McConnell (R-KY) Mikulski (D-MD) Murkowski (R-AK)Murray (D-WA)Nelson (D-FL)Nelson (D-NE)Obama (D-IL)Pryor (D-AR)Reed (D-RI)Reid (D-NV)Roberts (R-KS)Rockefeller (D-WV)Salazar (D-CO)Santorum (R-PA)Sarbanes (D-MD)Shelby (R-AL)Smith (R-OR)Snowe (R-ME)Specter (R-PA)Stabenow (D-MI)Stevens (R-AK)Talent (R-MO)Thomas (R-WY)Thune (R-SD)Voinovich (R-OH)Warner (R-VA)Wyden (D-OR)

Not Voting - 3
Corzine (D-NJ)
McCain (R-AZ)
Schumer (D-NY)

I find it interesting that McCain and Schumer didn't vote on the thing. Crap like this is the sort of thing that makes me think that nobody up there under the great white dome gives a damn about me, you, or anyone else in the Great Midwest.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Fickle Creatures We Are

The Green Bay Packers have won the NFC North Division title for the last three years straight. They are having a pretty crappy year so far this year, however. Not that it bothers me in the least - it is actually refreshing to see my team, the Bears, occupy the top spot instead of the bottom spot in the division for once. Even though it may be only for a week or two more.

It has been literally comical to hear the press here in Wisconsin demand everyone's head to be axed from the top down in the Packer organization. Oh the humanity! We only won the division for three years now! Clear the decks, we need all new blood!

I suppose I am just not as into it as I used to be or am just used to mediocrity. The Bears have been one of the worst teams in the NFL over the past 10 years and my beloved Illini have lost 18 of their last 19 Big Ten games (soon to be 19 of 20 after we get slaughtered by Wisco this weekend). I never kick fans when their teams are down because everyone eventually gets their day - maybe even me someday.

I just don't understand the total lack of perspective by the press up here when it comes to the Packers having just one down year. Then again, negativity sells when it comes to the media, sports media being no exception.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Announcers for world series are way too biased

Just a short post....

The announcers for the Fox network on the world series are amazingly biased against the White Sox. They showed the Dye "hit by pitch" about 500 times as well as AJ's ball in the dirt...

BUT THEY DON'T KEEP SHOWING THE HOME RUN THAT SHOULDN'T HAVE COUNTED

unlike the other items, this home run CLEARLY would have changed the game - if that home run was called correctly (as a double), the runner would have been stranded, and the Sox would have won 5-4. Simple as that.

But we get like 1 replay of the worst blown call of all... those announcers SUCK

Monday, October 24, 2005

Electricity "deregulation" in Illinois will lead to Illinois taking over the Nuclear plants of Exelon

WAY back when - when Enron was the king of the world - I made some prophecies that seemed crazy at the time. Before blogging, I was saying that 1) deregulation was going to bankrupt California 2) it was going to result in the impeachment of the governor. I did not say that AAHHNOLD would become governor (that was too far-fetched) but everything else came true.

Here are some new semi-crazy prophecies:

1) Illinois is about to change the way we govern electricity. They want to have an "auction" for power, at spot rates. Since spot rates are very high in Illinois (because all of the cheap base load generation was sold off, no one built anything new, and no new transmission lines were built to import power), it is likely that this will result in a giant spike in electricity prices. Our governor, Illinois Governor Blagojevich, is no political dummy, and is moving before the prices can rise to stop the power auction by filing a lawsuit. Here is a link to a filing by Ameren (an Illinois and Missouri utility) that describes the governor's actions from the utility point of view - they say that rates are likely to rise 20% or more

2) the utility that will be most severly impacted by this is Exelon. Exelon is the utility that is the holding company for Commonwealth Edison, the local delivery company in Chicago. Exelon also owns the nuclear plants in a non-regulated subsidiary. The base load coal plants were sold off a while ago. If Exelon can't raise their prices that customers pay for electricity, they will start losing money in their ComEd unit. Thus Exelon is thinking about something crazy - I am not making this up - that they would let ComEd go bankrupt to avoid running it at a loss, then it would be the problem of the city and state to buy the power

3) this is where it gets crazy - Exelon figures that they can just walk away from the distribution company, and it won't really effect them, because they have so many other assets and distribution companies (out East), not to mention nuclear assets (they are the biggest private nuclear generator in the nation). I would be willing to go out on a limb that if Exelon was to take the "nuclear" option (bad pun) and walk away from ComEd and let it go bankrupt, that Governor Blogo would consider using eminent domain to take away the nuclear plants from Exelon and put them back under ComEd. This would be a fight to the death from legal terms but if Exelon were willing to let ComEd go bankrupt just to stick it in Blogo's eye he is not going to watch his career melt away like Governor Davis in California and he would take down Exelon with him. It wouldn't be such a crazy idea - after all, the ratepayers of Illinois paid for those plants originally, and now Exelon owns them free and clear in their subsidiary, but they still sit in Illinois and on transmission lines in Illinois.

You heard it here first... the botched "deregulation" (I hate to use that term since it was just regulated differently) will come to a horrible, grinding end in Illinois, and the politicians here will come out swinging rather than waiting for the bitter end and then trying to pull the money out of the utilities. After all, the only people less popular than politicians are the utility companies...

France and Colonialism

Sometimes you feel bad putting up a blog because it is just too easy... but since it is about France I just can't resist.

France is up in an uproar over a new textbook that claims colonialism was a GOOD thing overall for the people being governed. Here is a link to a story about the new law.

What is most interesting about that story, plus other versions that I have seen, is what it leaves OUT of France's (brutal) colonial past.

How about.... Haiti! Haiti was a French colony from approximately 1600 to the early 1800's (approximately 1805), when a brutal uprising occurred where all of the remaining white French colonists were slaughtered to the last man (and woman). The French imported a huge number of slaves, over half a million, and worked them pretty much to death in huge sugar plantations.

The French influence there was pretty benign, non? Couldn't have contributed to Haiti's current position as the poorest country in the western hemisphere...

I don't think that Vietnam is very happy with their French history, nor was Algeria, where a brutal civil war was fought after WW2 that almost led to the assassination of DeGaul ("Day of the Jackal").

And Ivory Coast isn't doing too well under current French partition, and most of French speaking Africa is an economic train wreck.

To be honest the saddest part of the entire thing is the fact that the US kept stepping in to prop up the French empire, particularly in Vietnam and even in Haiti, where we intervened under Bill Clinton. Dont forget our US marines that were killed in the midst of Lebanon's many civil wars.

To get back to the article in particular, I can't believe what the uproar would be if this happened in the US or in England. There would be protestors everywhere. But, once again, in the "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" theory of US and European liberals, the US is the enemy, and since France (and Russia) constantly baits at the US and tries to undercut anything we are trying to accomplish, France is pretty much above reproach.

Wisconsin Homecoming 2005

On October 22 Wisconsin played host to Purdue and beat them in the Homecoming game. Homecoming doesn't really mean much to anyone anymore - if someone wants to go to a Badger game, they just come. There are a few alumni of old that my still hold a place in their hearts for the homecoming game, but probably nobody born after 1960 really gives a damn about homecoming.

That said, every Badger game is a big deal here in Madison, and last Saturday was no exception. No animals were harmed in the making of these tailgate buffets...well, maybe a few. On with the show.

On the left you see a classic Wisconsin tailgate setup, complete with electric football gently warming the succulent buffalo wings nestled inside. And on the right, the lunch of champions, the brat and beer. That brat, by the way is from the Annex, home of the best damn brat on Regent St. (in my opinion, anyway).






The day started out cold and rainy but cleared up nicely later. On the left is a shot of Regent St. before most of the action started - to the right is a shot of the Badger faithful on the way to the game. I took a few shots of Regent St. after the game but none came out - talk about packed!






I have considered myself a tailgaiting "pro" for a while now, but I attended one this day that puts me to shame. They had dark beer on tap, two bands and a yummy pig roast, that you can see here. To the left they are unloading the pig from the grill and to the right, cutting porky up for all to enjoy.






Of course alcohol and the abuse of it were prelavent at the festivities. Here is a shot of one of the many houses on Breese Terrace just outside the stadium that have heavy duty partying. And in the background you can see the youngsters scampering for their shot at the two story beer bong complete with three hose distributor and ball valve shutoffs. They have come a long way since my days of a rubber hose and funnel at the top.









Many of the students (note empty seats in shot on left) didn't show up until midway throught the first quarter, but the crowd was all red and rocking.




All in all, a great day with great people and great weather. If you have never experienced a Badger game day in Madison, I highly recommend it. Heck, you don't even have to go to the game - just the fun in the bars and tailgates around the stadium is worth the trip.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Pack Heat

I find this story rather odd...

A defense lawyer involved in the trial of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen on Thursday in Baghdad, said police. Initial reports said the lawyer was one of Saddam's attorneys. Police said Saadoun al-Janabi, lawyer for Saddam's co-defendant Awad al-Bander, was abducted by 10 masked gunmen in his office in Baghdad's eastern Shaab district on Thursday evening. Al-Bander was head of the Revolutionary Court under Saddam's reign. The kidnapping came just one day after the trial of Saddam and his seven co-defendants started on Wednesday for slaughter of 148 Shiite residents in Dujail in 1982 after Saddam survived an assassination attempt.
In a high profile case like this one, why for goodness sake wasn't the attorney armed?

You have to know that this guy is most likely dead meat by now.

Trust me I am not out to defend Saddam's defenders, but some things come to mind. If you are any high profile person in an environment like Iraq, why wouldn't you be armed? This question has popped into my head every time a reporter or other seemingly innocent was kidnapped and beheaded in Iraq. I am not saying everyone is high profile, but in an environment where some of the most brutal people on the face of the earth freely operate, what exactly is the reason NOT to be armed?

Sir Winston:

Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar.
It takes literally about two seconds to draw a semi-auto and aim and fire. This is coming from a relative beginner carrying a .45. I have been practicing my draw and fire at the range and within a few more trips I may be able to trim that to a second and a half or one second. Even a total beginner should be able to draw and fire within three seconds or four at the worst. With that in mind, if people were kidnapping you, wouldn't you want to die before being kidnapped by the worst people on the face of the earth? Maybe you could take a few with you as Sir Winston urged all of those years ago. Maybe the rest of the potential kidnappers would be scared and run away when they saw their friend get shot in the face with a hollow point .45 shell. That is not an appealing sight I assure you. I would take Sir Winston's advice to heart if I were high profile - or just a normal Joe, like myself.

What He Said, Part Two

This gem from Stephen Green, aka the Vodkapundit today:

Last year was the first time I ever voted to reelect an incumbent President. As far as I'm concerned, "Throw the bastards out" is a pretty safe pick on election day. This country, with its solid institutions, can much better endure two or four years of bad leadership than it can endure an entrenched ruling party.

If the Republicans need to pay for their sins, then so be it. A little time spent in the wilderness might remind them why we sent them to Washington in the first place.

What He Said

Sometimes others say so eloquently what I think that I just can't add anything. This is from Lex Green over at Chicago Boyz. Read the whole thing here if you have a few spare moments today. The money quote:

The fact that Israel has “gerrymandered” Gaza and the West Bank out of their domain of civil liberty is not so much apartheid as the desire to avoid being suicide-bombed. The Israelis are now in the process of establishing a defensible perimeter, and are removing their “settlers”, who ended up serving as hostages. With that indefensible “salient” removed, the Israelis are free to wash their hands of the Palestinians, other than actively patrolling their defensive line. (See Martin van Creveld's excellent book Defending Israel. The Israelis seem to be following a program similar to the one he outlines in that book. Israeli experts can correct me if that is wrong. The book is good either way.)

Let’s see how the Palestinians do with their wonderful new opportunity to found their own state on their two choice pieces of real estate. Odds are they will end up with a typical Arab country – a poverty-stricken tyranny. There is no evidence that anything better is coming down the pike.

The whole post-Ottoman period has been a pitiful performance by the entire Arab world. Blaming the Jews and the Americans for their incapacity to organize even one truly decent government is an increasingly pathetic excuse. Other parts of the world were exploited far worse by colonialism and they are nonetheless performing much, much better than any Arab country.

Yet more reason to hope that the Iraqis can get a viable, non-despotic country going. That is setting the bar pretty low, but in the race for political development the Arab countries have shown themselves to only be qualified for the Special Olympics. Maybe the Iraqis can toddle across the finish line in that easy league without falling on their faces. They'll be the first. It is still up in the air. Here's hoping. Another eighty or ninety years like the last ones in the Arab Middle East is too rotten a prospect to contemplate.



Yep, blaming the Joooos and the American Satan is getting pretty damned old.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

And so it begins... attempting to try US troops for "war crimes"

The US got a lot of bad press from the usual suspects on the left when they boycotted the "International Criminal Court" because we said it would be a haven for loonies around the world to attempt to drag US troops and leaders into useless court cases about political causes like the war in Iraq, and wouldn't be used for items such as to punish the genocide in Darfur or to bring someone like Saddam to justice. Here is a link to the International Criminal Court in the wikipedia, which seems pretty accurate with my understanding of what the "law" is all about.

Here is a link to a yahoo story about a judge in Spain that is attempting to extradite 3 US soldiers for war crimes over the (regrettable) killing of a journalist. These soldiers were cleared by the US after an investigation but this judge in Spain wants to "bring them to justice".

I find this totally amazing. The Spanish bail on the war in Iraq after a bomb, stop contributing to the rebuilding of Iraq, and now they want to bring US to justice? Where is the justice in abandoning Iraq to merciless killers, capitulating because they bombed your cities?

Don't forget that the Spanish have lots and lots of blood on their hands. Most people in the US haven't heard of the Spanish Civil War but it was a trial run for WW2 and Franco, the notorious dictator, ruled Spain into the SEVENTIES. But hey, that's in the past, we don't want to dig into that, instead let's bring bogus, unenforcable rulings against the US instead.

Let's get this straight - instead of worrying about bona-fide genocide like Darfur, there are millions of confused people that think demonstrations, letter writing campaigns and the like are going to change murderous behavior, and they are 100% convinced that the US is behind all of the troubles in the world, something that is patently false. Don't worry about the Russians in Chechnya, where they are committing unbelievable atrocities, because by their bent math of "the enemy of your enemy is your friend" since Russia is a counterweight to the US, they must be beyond criticism.

It makes me sick, these people are so deluded, and with all the troubles in the world, they think that this is a good use of everyone's time. We won't forget that you never had our back, Spain. Hope you go back to a brutal dictatorship for another forty years... and don't bring anyone to justice for crimes on your soil, better worry about the US, instead.

Why Do Gay People Protest In Wisconsin?

I have been meaning to write something on this topic for a while but have been short on time. Every summer there is a decent sized gay rights parade that marches it's way down State Street here in Madison, WI. As sure as every other rite of summer, it is inevitable that the marchers chant the good 0l' "We're Here, We're Queer, Get Used To It" slogan that is just as time worn as a box of moldy 78 records.

We know you are here. Madison has a very high percentage of gays, lesbians and other fruity sorts, being the super liberal town that it is. I personally don't care, but I sometimes really don't understand the tactics these folks take.

I attended the parade once to find all sorts of vile posters, men and women engaging in public displays of affection and other weird stuff. Look, pda is wrong no matter if you are straight or gay - geez, get a room! This does NOT appeal to the vast majority of straight folks that live here in the Great Midwest. Most of the marchers were decent, but the nutjobs ruin it for everyone (I would assume).

But that aside, the real question that always rolls around in my cranium is this:

Why are you marching for stuff here in Wisconsin when in most (all?) countries that are run by the rule of Sharia or Islamic law the penalty for being gay is immediate death?

Now, I understand the fact that gay people want to get married and want benefits for their partners. Whether that is right or wrong is another discussion for another day. But what I have never figured out is how the gays' right to a lower co-pay on their prescription drugs here in the US far outweighs the plight of the dead and dying gay people who live in islamic countries. Why don't I ever see a sign that says "Down with islamist theocracies and the terror they impose on gay people"? Instead I see such tripe like "Bush Sucks, Cheney Swallows".

Don't believe me? Check this story out about a roundup of gays in Egypt. Here is an article about the execution of two teenage gay boys in Iran. And here is a great article that details many of the particular countries where gay relationships are totally outlawed. From the article:

Same-sex relationships are currently outlawed in 26 Islamic countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Islam is also a significant and growing influence in Senegal, Nigeria, Chad, Somalia, Turkey, and the southern Philippines. In these states, the social opprobrium heaped on lesbian and gay people is very severe: beatings and disownment by their families are common place, driving some to depression and suicide. Those not caught out, usually feel pressured to deny their sexuality and force themselves into tragic, loveless marriages. In only three Islamic-dominated nations are there no laws against homosexuality: Egypt, Indonesia and Iraq. Nevertheless, even in these countries public attitudes remain hostile and gay people are subjected to periodic police victimisation. Of the Islamic states that ban lesbian and gay sex: Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen enforce the death penalty. Pakistan specifies two years to life imprisonment, plus flogging. In Malaysia the maximum sentence is 20 years and in the United Arab Emirates it's 14. Bangladesh and Libya are considered fairly moderate in Islamic fundamentalist terms, with punishments of seven and five years' jail respectively. Iran is the most zealously homophobic Islamic country. Since 1980, when the fundamentalists came to power under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini, over 4,000 lesbians and gay men have been executed, according to estimates by the exiled Iranian homosexual rights group, Homan.
So there you have it, one of my life riddles that I suppose will never be answered. Gays in Wisconsin protesting for their "rights" when their gay friends in the other parts of the world are dying.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

If World War Two Was A Real Time Simulation Game

What follows has a lot of computer jargon and humor so if you aren't "in the loop", you may want to skip this post. If you are up on it, what follows is the funniest damn thing I have seen in a long while.

For the past five (is it five already) years Carl and I have played Combat Mission. You can sample the game from the link on the left (no, I don't get paid for the links). It is a complex World War Two simulation where each side plots their turn, then the computer crunches the numbers and provides a "movie" for the turn that simulates the action. This game, I have heard, is the closest thing you can get to the real deal that is not classified.

Playing military games you get a lot of "lingo" as people try different tricks, tips and solutions to try to improve their play.

Combine this lingo with chat room talk and history and you get what World War Two would have looked like if it were a real time strategy game.

If World War Two had been an online Real Ttime Strategy game, the chat room traffic would have gone something like this.
*Hitler[AoE] has joined the game.
**Eisenhower has joined the game.
**paTTon has joined the game.
**Churchill has joined the game.
**benny-tow has joined the game.
**T0J0 has joined the game.
**Roosevelt has joined the game.
**Stalin has joined the game.
**deGaulle has joined the game.
Roosevelt: hey sup
T0J0: y0
Stalin: hi
Churchill: hi
Hitler[AoE]: cool, i start with panzer tanks!
paTTon: lol more like panzy tanks
T0JO: lol
Roosevelt: o this fockin sucks i got a depression!
benny-tow: haha america sux
Stalin: hey hitler you dont fight me i dont fight u, cool?
Hitler[AoE]; sure whatever
Stalin: cool
deGaulle: **** Hitler rushed some1 help
Hitler[AoE]: lol byebye frenchy
Roosevelt: i dont got **** to help, sry
Churchill: wtf the luftwaffle is attacking me
Roosevelt: get antiair guns
Churchill: i cant afford them
benny-tow: u n00bs know what team talk is?
paTTon: stfu
Roosevelt: o yah hit the navajo button guys
deGaulle: eisenhower ur worthless come help me quick
Eisenhower: i cant do **** til rosevelt gives me an army
paTTon: yah hurry the fock up
Churchill: d00d im gettin pounded
deGaulle: this is fockin weak u guys suck
*deGaulle has left the game.*
Roosevelt: im gonna attack the axis k?
benny-tow: with what? ur wheelchair?
benny-tow: lol did u mess up ur legs AND ur head?
Hitler[AoE]: ROFLMAO
T0J0: lol o no america im comin 4 u
Roosevelt: wtf! thats bullsh1t u fags im gunna kick ur asses
T0JO: not without ur harbors u wont! lol
Roosevelt: u little biotch ill get u
Hitler[AoE]: wtf
Hitler[AoE]: america hax, u had depression and now u got a huge fockin army
Hitler[AoE]: thats bullsh1t u hacker
Churchill: lol no more france for u hitler
Hitler[AoE]: tojo help me!
T0J0: wtf u want me to do, im on the other side of the world retard
Hitler[AoE]: fine ill clear you a path
Stalin: WTF u arsshoel! WE HAD A FoCKIN TRUCE
Hitler[AoE]: i changed my mind lol
benny-tow: haha
benny-tow: hey ur losing ur guys in africa im gonna need help in italy soon sum1
T0J0: o **** i cant help u i got my hands full
Hitler[AoE]: im 2 busy 2 help
Roosevelt: yah thats right ***** im comin for ya
Stalin: church help me
Churchill: like u helped me before? sure ill just sit here
Stalin: dont be an arss
Churchill: dont be a commie. oops too late
Eisenhower: LOL
benny-tow: hahahh oh sh1t help
Hitler: o man ur focked
paTTon: oh what now biotch
Roosevelt: whos the cripple now lol
*benny-tow has been eliminated.*
benny-tow: lame
Roosevelt: gj patton
paTTon: thnx
Hitler[AoE]: WTF eisenhower hax hes killing all my sh1t
Hitler[AoE]: quit u hacker so u dont ruin my record
Eisenhower: Nuts!
benny~tow: wtf that mean?
Eisenhower: meant to say nutsack lol finger slipped
paTTon: coming to get u hitler u paper hanging hun cocksocker
Stalin: rofl
T0J0: HAHAHHAA
Hitler[AoE]: u guys are fockin gay
Hitler[AoE]: ur never getting in my city
*Hitler[AoE] has been eliminated.*
benny~tow: OMG u noob you killed yourself
Eisenhower: ROFLOLOLOL
Stalin: OMG LMAO!
Hitler[AoE]: WTF i didnt click there omg this game blows
*Hitler[AoE] has left the game*
paTTon: hahahhah
T0J0: WTF my teammates are n00bs
benny~tow: shut up noob
Roosevelt: haha wut a moron
paTTon: wtf am i gunna do now?
Eisenhower: yah me too
T0J0: why dont u attack me o thats right u dont got no ships lololol
Eisenhower: fock u
paTTon: lemme go thru ur base commie
Stalin: go to hell lol
paTTon: fock this sh1t im goin afk
Eisenhower: yah this is gay
*Roosevelt has left the game.*
Hitler[AoE]: wtf?
Eisenhower: sh1t now we need some1 to join
*tru_m4n has joined the game.*
tru_m4n: hi all
T0J0: hey
Stalin: sup
Churchill: hi
tru_m4n: OMG OMG OMG i got all his stuff!
tru_m4n: NUKES! HOLY **** I GOT NUKES
Stalin: d00d gimmie some plz
tru_m4n: no way i only got like a couple
Stalin: omg dont be gay gimmie nuculer secrets
T0J0: wtf is nukes?
T0J0: holy ****holy****hoyl****!
*T0J0 has been eliminated.*
*The Allied team has won the game!*
Eisenhower: awesome!
Churchill: gg noobs no re
T0J0: thats bull**** u fockin suck
*T0J0 has left the game.*
*Eisenhower has left the game.*
Stalin: next game im not going to be on ur team, u guys didnt help me for ****
Churchill: wutever, we didnt need ur help neway dumbarss
tru_m4n: l8r all
benny~tow: bye
Churchill: l8r
Stalin: fock u all
tru_m4n: shut up commie lol
*tru_m4n has left the game.*
benny~tow: lololol u commie
Churchill: ROFL
Churchill: bye commie
*Churchill has left the game.*
*benny~tow has left the game.*
Stalin: i hate u all fags
*Stalin has left the game.*
paTTon: lol no1 is left
paTTon: weeeee i got a jeep
*paTTon has been eliminated.*
paTTon: o sh1t!
*paTTon has left the game.*

Monday, October 17, 2005

Awesome!


Even though I gave up being a Sox fan after the White Flag trade back in '97, I still have a little place in my heart for them and am happy they are in their first World Series since 1959. It is nice to see someone besides the hated Red Sox or Yankees in there as well. Go Sox!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Lautrec In My Kitchen

A month or so ago Carl posted about the Lautrec exhibit in Chicago which he attended and I remarked that I saw a Lautrec exhibit in Milwaukee about five years ago. I love Lautrec so much that I was inspired to comission my first piece of art, done by a super talented friend of mine and it now hangs in my kitchen. Here is a photo of my Lautrec painting hanging in the kitchen on the left and the original on the right - pretty good, eh? We couldn't be more pleased. The artist simply acquired our print and painted it freehand - incredible talent this man has.



















Photo credit for the one on the right here, along with lots more information on this particular artwork.

We Are All In Love

The only TV I have time to watch is the occasional music video and football games, with a splash of news thrown in. I like watching MTV2 or MTV Jams as they occasionally show an actual video.

Weezer has a new song out called "We Are All On Drugs". It is a catchy little pop tune, lamenting the fact that we, as Americans, take boatloads of drugs, which we do.

Anyway, MTV2 has seen fit to change the songs lyrics to "We Are All In Love". It seems Weezer actually recorded a new version, with the "in love" portion overdubbed where "on drugs" is supposed to be.

I can't believe how super weak this is. This is the same channel that regularly shows some of the most vile rappers singing about degrading women, and dealing drugs!

I suppose it is OK that MTV2 censors the Weezer song, but how about some consistency?

So what is the basis for dropping the "on drugs" lyric from Weezer's song? Got me, especially when the very next video in rotation is all about the marketing, selling and using of drugs.

Big Media Is Lame

Here is an interesting post today from Instapundit. I found it quite interesting because this blog has been ripped off by the Chicago Tribune in the past - you can catch up on that story by starting here.

Anyway, I clicked through from that original post from Instapundit to this post on Tim Worstall's blog. It is about a blogger who got his post ripped off almost word for word by big media - sound familiar? You will see my two cents about the ninth one down in the comments section of the post on Worstall's blog. Well, someone from the Chicago Tribune finally noticed.

On the left of this blog you see a small logo titled Sitemeter. For those unfamiliar, it is a way I can not only track the hits my blog gets, but who is linking to me, and where my visitors are coming from. This from the Sitemeter today:

> Visit DetailVisit 6,221
[<<] [>>]
Domain Name
(Unknown)
IP Address
144.142.21.# (Tribune Company)
144.142.21.6
ISP

Tribune Company
Location
Continent:North America
Country
United States (Facts)
State Illinois
City Chicago
Lat/Long 41.8119, -87.6873
(Map)
Language
English (United States)en-us

Operating System
Microsoft WinXP
Browser
Internet Explorer 6.0Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)
Javascript

version 1.3
Monitor Resolution 1024 x 768
Color Depth 32 bits
Time of Visit
Oct 12 2005 2:51:09 pm

Last Page View
Oct 12 2005 2:52:00 pm
Visit Length
51 seconds
Page Views 4
Referring URL :
Visit Entry Page
http://lifeinthegreatmidwest.blogspot.com/2005/06/things-that-make-you-go-hmmm.html
Visit Exit Page
http://lifeinthegreatmidwest.blogspot.com/2005/05/amnesty-international-knows-nothing.html
Time Zone

UTC-8:00PST - Pacific Standard TimePDT - Pacific Daylight Saving Time
Visitor's Time

Oct 12 2005 12:51:09 pm
Visit Number

6,221


Note the entry page to my blog was from my comment over at Worstall's blog!!! Well, at least someone over at the Trib noticed.

Geez, bloggers like myself and many others have full time jobs and blog for free and all big media can do with their time is plagiarize us? Hey Trib, hire some real writers and quit pinching us bloggers!

Which One?

In the aftermath of Katrina and Rita and the ensuing chaos that erupted in New Orleans and Houston (during the evacuation) it is painfully apparent that you are in charge of you. I have received many requests from many people over the last month or so asking me what kind of handgun to buy for their personal protection. This is a tough topic and a tough recommendation, but here are my tips to help those interested. I have only been shooting guns for a few years now and have a lot to learn so if I say something wrong here, let me know in the comments - I can take it.

After I had a problem with a potential intruder several years ago I made the decision to arm myself to protect myself, my family and my property. The big decision was which one? There are so many guns out there in so many different calibers and styles I just didn't have a clue where to start.

So I hit the web and the web hit me back. There are a gazillion websites and forums with all kinds of information. I also talked to gun owners. After gleaning what info I could, I settled on a revolver, .357. I wanted something simple (check), relatively small (4" barrel, check) with good stopping power (check). I like the revolvers durability and the one I have is a classic, a Smith and Wesson model 13-2. Well, then I had another need.

What if I am somewhere else, but my family is at home and there is a dirty nuke or other problem? So now it was time for a conceal carry weapon. For this one I chose the HK USP .45 Compact with stainless steel slide. Why the HK? I went to the gun shops and held every small frame .45 I could find and that one fit me the best. It is a beautiful gun and I love shooting it although with the 4" barrel, it really packs a punch. I also got a nice holster that will make it very easy and comfortable to hoof it to wherever my family is if there are problems.

But what advice would I give to a new gun owner? Ask everyone a lot of questions. I used to feel stupid when asking what I thought were questions that experienced gun owners would think dumb, but I found out that most are very willing to share experience and knowledge. As to choosing which handgun to purchase, that is difficult.

Buying a handgun is like buying a car in that some people just prefer certain types and disdain others. I recommend once you define the parameters you are buying the gun for (home defense, target, plinking) you go to a gun shop and hold as many in your hand as possible to find out which one fits you best. You always try on a pair of shoes before buying, why not a handgun?

Also, don't forget to practice! Owning a gun doesn't matter if you don't know how to use and/or are not comfortable with it.

As far as calibers go, for pure stopping power I like the .357 or .45. Sure you can get some souped up loads for the .38, .40 and 9mm, but what's the point? Any hollow point thrown out of the end of a .357 or .45 will be devastating. I love the simplicity of the revolver for those who are novices at shooting, but there is nothing more fun than shooting 8 in a row with a semi-auto!

So many choices - get informed, and get armed!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Wow What an Earthquake - But Wall St. Doesn't Care

Everyone who follows the news had heard about the awful earthquake that hit Pakistan last week. According to this article over 2.5 million people are homeless and over 30,000 are dead. That is one terrible disaster. Imagine if this were to happen to Chicago or LA - the media coverage would be non-stop, katrina-esque, if I may make up a new word.

I noted before that when the tsunami happened in Indonesia that it was terrible, but didn't really affect the day to day lives of Americans - and that Wall St. didn't see it as being too big of a deal. Well, same thing for this earthquake. Yesterday the Dow average was down 53.55 points, will ALL of the drop coming after 2pm eastern time after some bad news of the economic variety. Before then, the average was trading about flat to a small gain. So every trader in the world knew about this devastation in Pakistan but no one cared. Why not?

Simple. Nothing is made there. The only thing I can ever remember that I have seen in my lifetime that had a "made in Pakistan" label on it was maybe some clothes. That's it. Lets look at their GNP.

Look at this stunning chart. For 2003 the GNP per capita in Pakistan was $405 per person, ranking them number 176 out of 216 countries, just behind SUDAN!!! I assume this was before the Sudanese arabs began slaughtering the blacks - that will cause Sudan's GNP per capita to rise. Fewer people = higher GNP per capita. But I digress. The fact that in Pakistan they basically produce nothing makes this earthquake a huge event for the media, but a non-event to Wall St., just like the tsunami.

UPDATE: Today the Dow is up 14+ points.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Go to Hell, Jim Likte

Jim Litke is a sports columnist. He wrote this article that was a headline at yahoo sports.

Basically, the guy is saying that the White Sox have no tradition, and that no one cares if they win or lose. He refers to another loser sports columnist, Mike DeBonis, who writes for the Washington City Paper (what the heck is that?), who brings his own pathetic litany to the table.

Anyone who watched the White Sox / Red Sox series could see the incredible bias that the announcers were showing for the Red Sox. At the end of the game, most of the highlights were of the Red Sox, as if they had won the game, instead of being swept. In Chicago people refer to ESPN as "Eastern Seaboard Programming Network" for their huge bias towards the Yankees, Red Sox, and their ilk...

If the guy who wrote that article about the White Sox wrote it about the Red Sox you can phone in the anguish that would come from a million Northeasterners. But here in Chicago, it doesn't really merit more than a shrug.

The White Sox DO have a tradition, and they do matter. Sure, the franchise has made a lot of mistakes, from the Black Sox to the "White Flag" trade (which, amazingly, weren't even mentioned in this pathetic article from Litke, if you are going to find some dirt, why don't you at least dig a bit, or even go the Wikipedia article describing the White Sox which is actually very well put together).

You will see, if the White Sox put together a big season, things will change. Their ballpark isn't as bad as everyone says it is - the lower deck is nice and the upper deck isn't so terrible after they removed the top section of seats. The food is way better than Wrigley. What has kept people away all these years is the neighborhood, but that is changing in a big way. Here is a link to the Realtor.com web site for Bridgeport where you can see that they now have single family homes for almost a million dollars...

In any case, this article is insipid, poorly researched, and idiotic. I hope that the White Sox face the Yankees next so we can sweep out the rest of the Eastern Seaboard...

Chicago Marathon

The Chicago Marathon ran right through my neighborhood on Sunday. The first photo on the left shows the runners pouring west on Grand avenue right by Nordstrom. The second photo on the right shows the runners continuing to go down Grand (there were 40,000 racers) while the lead racers are starting to go North on LaSalle.









The photo to the upper left shows the view of the runners going south on Wells Street, looking north. You can see Gino's east pizza on the right side of the street.






The picture to the left shows the view looking south on Wells avenue, where the runners turn west on Hubbard street. In the back you can see the Merchandise Mart building.

Here is a link to a quick time movie showing the lead runners as they turn west on Hubbard.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

My Letter to Sony

I have received a large amount of e-mail asking me to provide a copy of the letter I sent to Sony about Roman Polanski. Rather than answering each e-mail, I decided to publish a copy here. Feel free to send a copy yourself, or, better yet, write an original letter! It only takes a few minutes and a .37 stamp. You never know - something may happen. If nothing else, you can make some educated decisions next time you are TV shopping.

Mr. Howard Stringer, Chairman, Sony Corp. of America
550 Madison Av.
New York, NY 10022

Dear Mr. Stringer,
I am writing to register a complaint about one of your current feature films showing in theaters across the United States as of today. The movie is titled “Oliver Twist” and it is directed by Roman Polanski. I assume that your company, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc., a division of the Sony Corporation, paid Mr. Polanski very well to use his talents to bring the story of Oliver Twist to life on the big screen for millions of Americans to see.

Roman Polanski, in early 1978, pled guilty to a charge of statutory rape. Other charges were pending, but at the request of the mother of the 13 year old girl that Mr. Polanski raped, the charges of sodomy, child molestation and furnishing drugs to a minor were dropped to avoid a trial. After Polanski realized that the judge was going to ignore the plea deal, he fled to France where he has lived his life until this very day. Do you find this sick? Repulsive? Vile? Or is it always about making money? Did you even know that Roman Polanski was a child molester? This monster plied a 13 year old girl with quaaludes and alcohol, then sodomized and raped her – some of it happening on the telephone during a conversation with the victim’s sister. Can you believe that this man walks free on the planet after participating in these acts? Well, it isn’t your problem that the French think that it is OK for someone to steal the life from an adolescent. It is your problem that you are rewarding him with treasure for making a film for your company.

I have decided that from this day forward I will never, ever buy another Sony product. The internet is a great thing when it comes to finding subsidiaries of companies. Things I plan on consuming in the near future like plasma TVs, digital cameras, and other items like this will never be seen in my house with a Sony label on them. I will never see a Sony film or purchase a DVD or CD that is produced by Sony or one of its subsidiaries.

I will also be sending this letter to every major media outlet in the hopes that at least one will grab it and run – and give your corporation a media black eye.

I understand that you may or may not be involved in the day to day operations of your company, but it is of the utmost importance that criminals like Roman Polanski, who have stolen the lives of children be PUNISHED, not REWARDED.
I look forward to your reply.

John at Large

John at large is a friend of mine. He should do some posts but he is busy and kind of perfectionist so it never happens...

Tonight we went out after the Sox victory. The Sox beat the Red Sox for a sweep after an amazing inning by Hernandez when he bailed us out with bases loaded and no outs and a 4-3 lead; he saved us so that no runs were let in. The final out was when he froze Johnny Damon (Mr. pretty boy long-hair) and then he failed to check his swing and was out on a called third strike (check swing).

We are excited - this is the first White Sox series victory since 1917. GO SOX!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Let Them Eat Pork!

Today I had a pig roast at work as a customer appreciation day. None of my Muslim friends were invited and there was, I assume, a safe asylum at my place of business from any Al Queda predators for at least a day. You see, the Quran forbids Muslims from eating pork - some take the translation so far as to not touch the infidel beast. There is an urban legend that US military forces in the Philippines after the Spanish-American War buried muslim rebels in sheets of pigskin to thwart future efforts. I have heard that the Russians have done the same thing in Chechnya. Does this mean that guys like Mushin Muhammad, wide receiver on the Bears, shouldn't play football anymore as he is touching the infidel skin of the pig?

I have to admit, as long as I have lived, I have never understood dietary restrictions in the name of religion. I once dated a Jewish girl and she was big on the kosher food thing. Catholics have Lent. Lent doesn't necessarily have a dietary restriction built in, but in the modern day, lots of Catholics give up eating meat for six weeks as their sacrifice during that time. Sure, they can booze up anytime at all, but my god! Don't touch that Big Mac! Hindus don't eat beef, considering cows holy. Deuteronomy chapter 14 has all kinds of goofy dietary restrictions so if you believe that the Bible is the word of the Lord, you have probably violated it many times over in your life. So what's the deal? Why does every religion's god have an issue with what we eat? Are you trying to tell me that the Supreme Being has nothing better to do than monitor my food intake? And that what I eat effects my place in the afterlife?

I guess the answers to those questions are beyond me. But to "heck" with all of them. I am going to continue eating cows, sheep, pigs (especially pigs), chickens, ducks, geese, wild boar, deer, bison (my latest craze), ostriches, quail, fish, sea urchins, cornish hens, shellfish, lobsters, and whatever other animal I find tasty to my hearts content.

Do you really think that because I eat a bratwurst that I am a worse person than, say, Hitler? Will I burn in hell because my meat isn't kosher? Atkins dieters BEWARE!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Hollywood Hypocrites

There was a recent article in the Economist (an excellent magazine, but I am just starting to get over their INSANE recommendation of Kerry over Bush for President in 2004) they discussed how movies are being filmed in Romania because of the cheap labor, excellent scenery, and the presence of so many people that can fill in as extras.

I understand how businesses go abroad in search of lower costs and take advantage of other benefits such as tax breaks. The Economist goes into one of the other big benefits, in the eyes of Hollywood - the absence of the stifling, expensive and productivity-draining unions. Here is a link to the article in Yahoo! (Economist requires a subscription). No one talks about this, of course, because officially Hollywood and the left loves unions, except when it gets in the way of their profits that they need for the left-coast lifestyle.

Why don't the Hollywood producers, who relentlessly attack George Bush and everything else Republican, voluntarily pay union scale and implement those workers overseas? Are they... gasp... creating a sweatshop! Wouldn't they be in a full-throated roar if a business, like ExxonMobil, were to do something like this? Of course they would. They'd probably create a Romanian shanty-town on campus and have a sit in or something like that to make themselves feel better.

This will probably gain as much traction as the idea that Kerry and the rest of them don't have to take the tax cuts that the Republicans enacted to help the economy. Nothing is stopping them from opening their wallets (or their wife's wallets, in the case of Kerry) and paying more, they can pay the old rate and then some... funny how this didn't happen.

Baseball... a game of inches

Tonight the White Sox beat the Red Sox again. I was going to scalp a ticket like I did for game one but the prices are astronomical... I paid 150 for a bad bad bleachers seat (section 558!) but was able to hang around in the 100 concourse (they wall off the fans from the 100's since that tatooed idiot ran out and attacked the umpire) for yesterday's victory.

Looked at the tickets for today and it was like 300 dollars for a crummy bleachers seat! I think that everyone is really starting to believe in the White Sox for this year.

ESPN doesn't believe. They like the Houston Astros, figuring that a 1-2-3 punch of Clemens / Pettite / Oswalt is about the best 1-2-3 that they have seen in the playoffs since... forever. The Astros have a ways to go, however, even if they chuck out the Atlanta Braves (who won their division for about the 100th time in a row but generally do squat in the playoffs), because they have to get past the mighty, mighty St Louis Cardinals, who have a million offensive weapons, defense, homefield advantage, and plenty of pitching themselves (although not nearly as dominant).

Right now, given that the White Sox have won the first 2 games of the series, out of a 5 game series, I would say that their chances of winning this playoff round is about 80%. Thus I would eyeball their chances at winning it all at about 20%, as of now. If the Yankees beat the Angels this will go up a bit because the Sox play terrible on the West Coast - would be a stretch to see them doing anything out there...

The whole point of this post is that the reason the White Sox have a 2 game to zero lead in this series comes down almost solely to the fact that the Red Sox booted a routine grounder and Iguchi made them pay immediately with a 3 run homerun, and the Sox went on to win 5-4. But for that boot, the Sox would have thrown away home field advantage, and things would not be looking that good at all right now.

Oliver Twist Was Directed By A Child Molester

There is a new movie out in theaters called "Oliver Twist". It is directed by one Roman Polanski, who was convicted in 1978 for having sex with a thirteen year old girl. He fled the USA before we could put him in jail and has been living in, where else, France, ever since.

This from the Wiki entry for Polanski:

Pled guilty to rape of 13 year old girl
The success of Chinatown had made Polański a highly visible figure in the Hollywood community and secured his reputation as a gifted filmmaker. However, he became embroiled in a scandal surrounding rape charges involving him and Samantha Gailey, the 13-year-old daughter of an actress. Polański was initially charged with rape, suspicion of sodomy, child molestation and furnishing dangerous drugs to a minor; however, these charges were eventually reduced to statutory rape at the request of the victim's mother to avoid a trial.

It was alleged the director drugged her with quaaludes and alcohol, and then proceeded to have sexual intercourse with her. The sister of the girl heard her reporting the fact of sexual intercourse to her friend over the phone. When Gailey's mother reported the incident to the police, Polański fled the United States but returned later to face the charges.

A fugitive from the United States
On February 1, 1978, after pleading guilty to the charges, Polański skipped bail and fled to France on learning that the judge was going to disregard the previously agreed upon plea bargain and that he (Polański) could be sentenced to as much as 50 years in prison. France has a policy not to extradite its own citizens, which is reflected in the extradition treaty between France and the United States. As a consequence, American requests of extradition could not be heeded. It was possible, however, for the US government to request Polański's prosecution by the French authorities. (The Washington Post, February 3, 1978 [1]). However, US authorities chose not to avail themselves of this possibility.

The United States could still request the arrest and extradition of Polański from other countries, should he visit them, mostly traveling between France and Poland. As a consequence, Polański has since avoided visits to countries that were likely to extradite him, such as the United Kingdom.In a 2003 interview, Samantha Geimer (formerly Gailey) said that "I'm sure if he could go back, he wouldn't do it again. He made a terrible mistake but he's paid for it." She is now in her second marriage, with three sons, living on Kauai, Hawaii.


I have for a long time reserved a special place in my heart to hate those that prey on children and have absolutely no sympathy for these bent souls. Note Polanski admitted to the guilt of the charge. So this is the person that Sony studios hired to make their movie Oliver Twist. Is there any doubt that I won't be seeing this movie? Or buying any other Sony music or video products in the future? I don't go to many movies anyway, but am always careful with my research so I know that I am not supporting child molesters or other outright criminals like Polanski with my hard earned shekels. I have already written Sony a letter letting them know I will never, EVER see one of their films until they publicly apologize for paying this disgusting piece of vermin money for directing the film. It is very difficult to see any movie these days without paying some decrepit person something, but blatant examples like Oliver Twist are easier to do something about, like not going. Or renting.

If you can, try to be sure you know where your dollars are going and if you don't like something, don't just sit there - write the company or call them and let them know what you think. I also called my local movie theater and gave them a piece of my mind (politely) about Oliver Twist. That did a bit of good, I think, but I doubt much will happen.

I have done well in this post not to use a swear word to describe my dislike of Polanski and child molesters in general.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Our supreme court selection process is broken

Want to be on the supreme court? Well, if you are a sitting judge and have made a lot of decisions, you are out. Any kind of paper trail makes you meat as far as either the right or the left is concerned.

So what do we get? We get a guy with a miniscule track record, and someone with NO track record. It is a COMPLETE crap shoot.

Given that the supreme court represents effectively 1/3 of our government and sometimes is the only hope when the legislature goes looney and Bush still doesn't use his veto enough, it is sad that this is what our great country has come down to.

I am a republican but I don't know what to think about these two. They essentially are blank faces, and George Bush is saying "trust me".

These are big decisions. George Bush is a lame duck president. Maybe he doesn't want a bold choice, someone like Scalia or Rehnquist, because he doesn't want to spend his "political capital", but hey, these people are going to be on the bench for TWENTY YEARS. George Bush will be long gone and we will be dealing with the fallout of these people if they turn out to be a Souter, picked by Bush Sr. and now a friend of the left. The chance to "pack" the judiciary with people who have conservative views is a critical part of the Republican legacy, and George Bush might be blowing it (of course he might not be, but there is no way to tell). Given that the Democrats basically run most of government (the institutional, unelected portion) and all of the universities, it is critical that the Republicans make the most of their opportunities with the judiciary.

It is sad that George Bush is running from a fight... the Democrats hate him anyways and are obstructing every element of his program, so why not go down fighting? He could get his nominee through even if he lost a couple of the "faux" Republicans out East (remember, I can't point fingers being from Illinois - our "faux" Republicans emptied death row and are on trial for corruption). He should remember the Heisman statue and at least hit the blocker hard on the way down, instead of just running out of bounds.

Sox win first home playoff game since 1959

The White Sox played against the Red Sox tonight at US Cellular Field. It was the nicest day ever (probably) for playoff baseball in Chicago - it was in the 80's and the sun was shining. It was supposed to rain but it never did.

I was talking to my friend Rick with whom we saw playoff games in 1994 and 2000 and it always was cold, miserable, and a White Sox loss.

The pale hose clubbed the Red Sox, going up 5-0 in the first inning. That was the first time I had seen a Sox playoff game where they even had the lead...

So what are the chances for the White Sox? If you don't have any other info, I guess their chances are 12.5%, or 1 in 8. The baseball playoffs have become pretty much a crap shoot with the wild card and the fact that the first playoff series is only 5 games - anything can happen in a 5 game series. There have been a lot of wild card winners, including the Marlins, the Red Sox, and the Angels. I read somewhere that since the wild card has been implemented the team with the better record is actually worse off in the series against the underdog with fewer regular season wins...

Rather than 12.5%, given that 1) they have home field advantage throughout the playoffs and the world series 2) they won the first game of their 5 game series I would probably put their chances at about 25%. Hey - that is moving up - and I am a fan - but a lot can happen in baseball.

But it is a good day in Chicago, no two ways about it.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Songs not on the Top 500 List...

I don't want to seem obsessed with lists, but, hey, maybe I am. Here are songs that SHOULD have been on the list, but weren't.

For these lists there is kind of a weird math. I remember when I was a kid we would joke about those "monster of rock" top 500 lists that they ran over the holidays. The joke was - what if they put that whole list together, spent a day hashing everything out, got all the tracks lined up, and then someone said "Damn, we forgot THE WHO" and then they'd have to start all over again, dislodging stuff to make room for Baba O'Reilly (Teenage Wasteland, to everyone else), etc...

Because you really aren't going to have too many songs by a particular artist, so you kind of just get one or maybe two. Dan should be happy with the Top 500 list because I count 4 Pixies songs in there, which makes them the "Beatles" of this list (I don't think anyone else has more, but I haven't built a database out of this list, am just scanning it). Thus if there is only one Dead Kennedys song on the list (true) and it is "Too Drunk to ****", my response would be - hey, "Holiday in Cambodia" is a WAY better song, but really it was enough for DK (write that on the bottom of your skateboard) to just have one song.

Given that rambling prequel, I was completely blown away that "CLOSER" by Nine Inch Nails didn't make the list. I had to go through the entire list twice to double check because it seems so ridiculous that it isn't on there, like some kind of oversight.

I was in Minneapolis working on a client very late one night and a friend of mine had a radio. There was an alternative radio station (Minneapolis was WAY ahead of Chicago) and I remember hearing this song clearly, with the lines "I want to **** you like an animal, I want to feel you from the inside" and I did one of those double-take, I can't believe I am hearing this type of moves.

That song was from outer space - it had a beginning, a middle, and an end. Remember those old Yes songs, that would start, and have a main melody, and then a final act? That is what this reminded me of. Really, if you are talking about the last 15 years or so, this song probably should be in the top 10, not completely off the list. Even given the "artist" math above, with "Head Like A Hole" by Nine Inch Nails at #75 (so they didn't just forget Nine Inch Nails, like the Who example, above) after all. They clearly blew it, not including this song, no two ways about it.

Another miss that comes close to this is "Would" by Alice in Chains (bad pun). With the drop tuning bass line starting out, and the vaguely religious lyrics, and the non-fade out ending (question?), this is another song that simply defined the 90's.

In fact, Alice in Chains has become the Rush of the non-alternative rock stations, a band that is so ubiquitous that you can't go 1/2 an hour without hearing one of their songs. Don't believe me - just listen to the radio 97.9 The Loop in Chicago and see for yourself

Chicago White Sox - expectations vs reality

The Chicago White Sox recently made the playoffs. They had a 15+ game lead and the Indians chipped it down to 1 1/2 games by basically playing out of their minds.

What interests me is that last night I was watching the end of the game (it went into extra innings) and the TV showed the results of a poll that asked "Did the White Sox exceed your expectations in 2005?" And the answer was...

66% of the people said no, 34% said yes

That just shows how people lose perspective. The White Sox finished with the BEST RECORD IN THE AL. Was this everyone's "expectation" at the beginning of the year? Are they all crazy?

Let's go back in time to before the season started...

  • We traded away Carlos Lee, our most productive hitter, who went on to have a big season with the Milwaukee Brewers. We did get Scott Podsednik, the speedy lead-off man, in return, but trading away a bona-fide big league cleanup hitter is a big deal
  • We lost a guy who challenged for MVP, Magglio Ordonez, and basically got nothing in return (he got injured most of the year and played for the Tigers)
  • We knew that Frank Thomas, our oft-injured slugger, might not be ready for the season, and sure enough, he got hurt and didn't contribute very much in 2005
  • We picked up a sometimes-OK reliever from the Padres, Hermanson
  • We picked up an oft-injured outfielder / slugger, Jermaine Dye
  • We re-signed (what, for the tenth time :) ) oft-nuts Carl Everett
  • We picked up Contreras, the pitcher, who was wildly streaky and at a big discount
  • We picked up Hernandez, another pitcher, at a big discount
  • We bet on Garland, who never seemed to get his act together to match his talent
  • We picked up AJ Pierzynski, who was deried as a "bad chemistry" guy from SF

Does this sound like the formula for the Best Record in the AL, a league which features the high-spending Red Sox and Yankee franchises? And don't forget the Angels, which won the world series not too long ago?

It didn't to me, and those people who said it matched expectations are either lying or nuts.

What probably happened is that when they played 30 games over .500 at the All Star break and then played closer to .500 ball after the All Star break, people became disenchanted. But NO ONE who thinks about things for more than 5 minutes would think that a team would go 30 games over at the All Star break and then 30 games over the 2nd half of the year, because that would basically come to about the best all-time record (%) in history.