Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Fois Gras merits a picket, demeaning women merits a snicker

In the Chicago neighborhood of River North there is a French restaurant (very good, in fact) called Cyrano's.

Chef Didier runs the establishment and is kind of a local celebrity.

Here in Chicago we have a few problems that might concern the city council, such as the fact that we lead the nation in the number of homicides (even though New York City has about 3 times the population).

But no, the city council has something to REALLY worry about, Fois Gras. Here is a link to an article about the hearings where the "issue" was debated. In the end they decided to let it drop, but it did take up a lot of time and energy. Chef Didier spoke on behalf of this traditional French dish and took a lot of heat from the usual "activist" suspects.

Right down the street from Cyrano's, just a few blocks away, is a different type of restaurant. Kizoku is a sushi bar that features a novel twist (for a city like Chicago, at least) - you can eat your sushi off an (almost) naked female model. Here is a link to an article describing it, which was all over the news here in Chicago.

My question is, where is the outrage? Why do the activists picket over a duck, but not care about the zero social redeeming value off of eating sushi off a model's body?

I really can't answer it, I leave it for you to decide, but to me it is nonsense, and indicative of their skewed priorities and values.

The interesting part for me is that you only have to travel a few blocks to get their priorities all laid out for you...

UPDATE: Welcome Chicago Boyz readers, and thanks Jonathan for the link.

ALSO: Thanks to Steven den Beste for the link.

I Will Never Understand the Mindset of Peace Activists

Recently news has come that four persons who were working for the organization "Christian Peacemaker Teams" were abducted in Iraq. We also saw the usual degrading, Geneva Convention violating video aired, of course, on Al-Jazeera all over the world demanding that the infidels leave Iraq, etc., etc.

It appears upon inspection of their website that Christian Peacemaker Teams may as well be another name for "leftist organization without a clue causing trouble (getting the way, as they put it) in arab lands". Let's fisk their front page a bit and just see how badly this organization has hung their brothers out to dry all in the name of "peace".

Here is a statement right at the top:

What would happen if Christians devoted the same discipline and self-sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war?
This, of course doesn't have much to do with anything. The thought pattern here is that if folks read this, they will assume that no Christians are in the army, which is bunk.

BAGHDAD: We were very saddened to see the images of our loved ones on Al Jazeera television recently. We were disturbed by seeing the video and believe that repeated showing of it will endanger the lives of our friends. We are deeply disturbed by their abduction. We pray that those who hold them will be merciful and that they will be released soon.
Funny how they think that the repeated showing of the video will endanger their friends. I bet everything I have that they did NOT do ONE THING to let Al-Jazeera know that everyone is sick and tired of that propaganda outlet being able to broadcast. Al-Jazeera is the one who broadcast the video. After that, everyone else may pile on because in the media, misery sells. But no, lets not blame Al-Jazeera for helping the terrorists - note how they willfully do not blame them for anything, rather ask others not to air it again. And it is good that they are deeply disturbed and praying for mercy. I am afraid these people can pray until they are blue in the face, but NO mercy will be given their friends. I simply do not understand why some people do not grasp the fact that there are people out there, islamofascists, that want to KILL all Christians, Jews and whatever else unless they convert to their backward, female oppressing version of Islam.

We are angry because what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the U.S. and U.K. governments due to the illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people.
Ah, now I get it. It is the fault of the government that you are hanging out in the most dangerous place in the WORLD, causing trouble and getting in the way of our men trying to clean up the mess that dictator coddlers worldwide caused. And the oppression of the Iraqi people? They must have missed this, this, this, this, ad infinitum. Also note they do not mention any of the other 25 or so governments who have helped in the mission.

CPT does not advocate the use of violent force to save lives of its workers should they be kidnapped, held hostage, or caught in the middle of a conflict situation.
What the hell? They really can't mean this. Refuse the help of anyone who would kill the soon-to-be-beheaders? What is the deal here? Maybe these people are all just so drugged up they think their sit-ins and letter writing campaigns will change the minds of these maniacal radical muslims that kidnapped their friends. Or maybe ideology trumps their friendship and they would rather see their friends die than someone from the eeeevil US Army or Marines rescue the people and kill or capture the kidnappers. To all reading this blog: If I ever get abducted by anyone, I immediately authorize and encourage massive use of force by anyone to try to free me.

Christian Peacemaker Teams is a violence reduction program.
I hope they write a nice letter to the mullahs in Iran that want to wipe Israel (among others) off the map. Then maybe the mullahs will come around and instill a nice democratic form of government and we can all get along. And maybe I will be the next star running back for the Chicago Bears. Hey - I have a better chance at that than they have!

Monday, November 28, 2005

My Take on Pajamas Media

What follows are my personal thoughts about Pajamas Media. I have no inside info besides what I have read on the web.

Being a blogger, it is natural that I read other blogs every day. I probably check in on at least 15 or so daily. In the blogosphere there has been a big blowout over the new - whatever it is - called Pajamas Media.

For those not in the know, I will try to explain what exactly this thing is. To me, it looks like a way for high traffic blogs to try to combine their traffic into some sort of marketable service. What it has managed to do is upset a LOT of people and galvanize others.

The product adds absolutely no value to me. If you look at the home page, it is just a bunch of links to the member bloggers, an add or two and some newsfeeds. Until last week, most of the newsfeeds were from Xinhua, the communist voice of China!

Will the bloggers who signed up to become a part of this succeed? I don't care. Being a business owner, I can state quite confidently that nobody outside of my company cares about my success or failure and many of my competitors honestly just wish I would go out of business, just as I wish the same fate for them. So success or failure is up to Pajamas Media, and nobody else. I happen to think that as a person who cruises the web a lot for blogs, news and other things that I would be the perfect demographic for them to attract and they have failed.

Then again, it could simply be a writeoff for someone. Who knows? But why the huge dustup? Because the club didn't include many, many great blogs. If you live in the 200 hit per day ghetto like this blog, you would be laughed out of any discussion if you want to join. This pisses people off. Guys like me who do this for a hobby don't care that much, but many are much more involved in their blogs - passion is the word for them, not hobby. When bloggers know they are good and you tell them they can't be in the club, they are offended. Or if they tell you they aren't interested in being in the club and then you savage them, they are offended. Lots of offended people.

Well, that's my take on the whole mess. Will they succeed? Who cares. Business is business. Not my problem.

UPDATE: Welcome Althouse readers! And thank you Ann for the link.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

"Engagement" in Iran = appeasement

Europe’s policy of “engagement” with Iran is really working out well.  Look at the recent moves in that fine, well-governed country:

  1. The new President, Ahmadinejad, called for Israel to be “wiped off the map”.  That is a pretty amazing statement for a president of a major nation, pretty much a declaration of war

  2. The new President has fired all of the “pragamatists” who might want to improve ties to Europe and the US

  3. Iran is making very aggressive moves with their nuclear weapons policy, and if they ever “go nuclear” this is likely to make for a very dicey situation with Israel, given note #1, above
Here is a link to a good summary article at yahoo.

Here is the amazing thing – making nice and holding hands with lunatic dictators, while covertly seeking their favor in terms of lucrative financial and business deals, isn’t really working out that well.  Who could have predicted this?  Well, pretty much anyone with even a micron of awareness of the history of appeasement.

Really, the dark secret here is that lots of Europe probably secretly is on the side of Iran.  As we saw with all the shady financial deals to prop up the “oil for food” Iraq program, most of the countries against the war were deep in bed with another dictator.  They don’t have the guts to face up to their own radicals in their midst, as seen from the uprising in France, and sympathy for the Palestinians goes down well with the young leftists and their anti-Semitic sentiments – don’t forget about their collaboration in the Holocaust under the Vichy regime.

I hope that the policy of engagement can be seen for what it is, a total, and abject failure.  Now can we stop even bothering to pretend to listen to these guys?

Work Ethic and the Five Pound Butterfly

I have had many conversations with small business owners like myself that center around the basic fact that good people are hard to find. My take on this is that if I can find a person that has a good work ethic and a positive attitude that I can and will take care of the rest. I sincerely believe that if you find someone with successful sales experience in pharmaceuticals, and if that person is a hard, honest worker that you can easily train that person to sell, say, locomotive parts. In my opinion, the training is secondary, the person is primary. Sales is sales. What they are selling isn't the issue.

The Wall Street Journal on Nov. 16 has an interesting article called the Five Pound Butterfly (via Photon Courier). A couple of the money quotes:

A company that makes automobile bumper parts was looking for a shift supervisor at a plant in Pennsylvania. They eliminated all candidates who didn't have a BS degree, even though many had relevant experience.
A college degree, in my opinion, is nice, but not relevant here. If I were the person hiring for this job the degree is trumped by experience in a factory environment - any factory environment that has to do with heavy manufacturing.

And this is completely ridiculous:

Wabtec, which makes components for railcars and buses, needed a mechanical engineer. They wanted a BS and appropriate work experience; they also wanted experience with a computer-aided design system Pro/Engineer. And they would only consider candidates who had experience with Pro/Engineer Wildfire, not an earlier version of the software which was called 2000i. "The basic difference between Wildfire and 2000i is not that significant," says Mike Sylvester, VP at the recruiting firm that handled the search. "I say smart people can learn sister applications, but there is a reluctance among hiring managers to see that. If they use a SAP database system, they won't even look at someone with experience with a PeopleSoft system. There is a major fear of having to bring someone up a learning curve. They want them to hit the ground running."
So you have to train the person a bit. There is no job whatsoever that has seamless integration. Cultures between companies differ as well as operating systems, aggressiveness and personalities.

Mike Sylvester says that there's a lot of this sort of thing going on. He was asked to find an engineer to oversee a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system at a hospital. "A pump is a pump and a duct is a duct, but they wouldn't even look at candidates who had HVAC experience in a mill instead of a hospital," he says.The WSJ article blames much of the claimed "shortage" of engineers on such overly-specific hiring requirements. "Companies are looking for a five-pound butterfly. Not finding them doesn't mean there is a shortage of butterflies," says Richard Tax of the American Engineering Association.
That is right on. Being in the HVAC business, I can personally attest that that 50 horse pump in the mill operates in the same exact way as the 50 horse pump in the hospital, and is more than likely the SAME EXACT pump. Guys who can do a good job fixing these big boys quickly and efficiently usually are very secure in their jobs. There really aren't many of these folks unemployed unless they are self destructive types, such as alcoholics or drug addicts.

I find the WSJ article interesting because I am a small business owner and find the corporate world, at times, baffling. Well respected, gigantic companies would actually overlook a candidate such as the mill engineer for the hospital job simply because he doesn't work in a hospital? Really? Even a little research by the person hiring for that job would show that the climate control systems are, in fact, quite similar between the mill and the hospital. So why is that person doing the hiring for this job? Politics? Looks like more wasted money for the shareholders in my eyes.

To me, honesty and a good work ethic are the two most important things when hiring people. In today's world, good people are, in fact, hard to find.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The End of History (really)

I had to re-read this article a few times because I really couldn’t believe it.

Apparently there are a lot of neo-Nazis in Russia today. Although statistics are unreliable, this article claims that there are 50,000 neo-Nazis in Russia today.

Another recent article in the Economist quotes anti-Polish sentiment running high on a new November holiday, with more mentions of neo-Nazis shouting “Sieg, Heil”. You need a subscription, but the article is titled “Those Pesky Poles” at the web site. From the article:

Whether or not nationalism was the motive, Moscow's young racists were quick to
exploit the holiday. Several hundred marched through the city, some performing
Nazi salutes and chanting “Sieg, heil!
The usual paraphernalia of Russian demonstrations went with them: malfunctioning
metal detectors, hordes of riot police in rickety buses. When the youths
dispersed, a smaller rally was held by tsarists, with black uniforms and
Orthodox icons. An outnumbered Communist babushka vainly tried to sell newspapers with the headline “Russians: Stalin
is your saviour!”

Really, I guess I need to reconsider what it is that I know and what I think other people know. If the Russians, whose entire identity seemed to be wrapped up in beating Hitler and fascism, are now pretty indifferent about the whole thing, then what has the world come to? What assumptions should we make?

I think that the real issue is that there is little or no historical memory. These countries in Europe and in Asia have forgotten the past, often because they feel that it has no bearing on their lives today or it is wrapped up with the “lost decades” when their countries were occupied by Russia and under socialism.

The France that I think of isn’t the France of history, it is a few people clinging to power, with low fertility, surrounded by a sea of immigrants who share none of that country’s history and in fact want to see it burned down. And every day the tide of history turns against them (the historical French).

For all the vilification of George Bush at least he can ignore the past and look to the future – that Europe is (mostly) a dying backwater (except for England, which embraced capitalism and immigration of top talent from around the world) and that the future will be in the middle east, with the tinder keg of oil riches and religious extremism and Asia, which is rapidly modernizing and bringing challenges of their own.

I have books on my shelf and a memory of history but perhaps it is all out-dated. Maybe history really has ended now and we need to determine who our friends and enemies are, unburdened by views of the past.

It is sad because our friends in fact will be outnumbered by our enemies. South America has gone backwards into debt, economic chaos and democracy is weak. Africa keeps facing massive troubles, and the countries that once seemed to be reforming, like Uganda, are slipping backwards. Europe is weak and has neglected their economy, making it a good life for those with state jobs and creating a boiling underclass of unemployed immigrants with no historical ties to the state. The Middle East is rising, buoyed by oil revenues and nuclear weapons. Asia will be the new future, with three billion people and a rapidly modernizing economy. China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan and Singapore will face off, since more or less none of them can stand one another when you really get down to it.

I realize that this post has gone all over the place, and it all started with neo-Nazis in Russia, which to me is some sort of sign of the apocalypse, for history as we know it, at least.

I Wish I Could Have Said It Like That

In my podcast number 3, I spoke briefly about how it is of VITAL importance that the UN not be allowed to own the internet. In fact, the US is now the owner of the domains where most of the action takes place and frankly, I can't think of a more deserving owner. Wretchard over at Belmont Club says why much better than I could have. The money quote:

One of the reasons the Internet has been so successful is that it has so far escaped the restraints of Filipino judges, Tunisian government officials and United Nations bureaucrats. Addresses which are published onto the root servers can be resolved and their content displayed, subject to the restrictions of their publishers. The United States, by refusing to regulate the Internet, has occupied the position of an information central banker maintaining the coin of the realm. If lower court Filipino judges and assorted bureaucrats get their way, the pathways of the Internet will be subject to bureaucratic gatekeeping, conducted in the name of "governance". But the proper word would be debasement.

The moment the free flow of packets over the Internet is no longer substantially guaranteed, it will cease to be trusted. Companies which are building businesses worth billions over the Internet protocols would stop if they knew a relative of the Tunisian President had to be placated for commerce to continue. Applications such email, instant messaging, searches, e-commerce, online banking, virtual medicine -- to name a few -- would be at the mercy of bureaucratic caprice, not just in the United States, but in every swamp and backwater imaginable. In the end, governing the Internet, especially in the United Nations sense, might be indistinguishable from destroying it. But one can see how that would appeal to those who yearn for bad, bad old days.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

You Are Having a Bad Day When...

...your boss asks you not just to "take one for the team", but to die. This from Human Events Online about the woman who's explosives didn't detonate in the bombings in Amman last week:

Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi was not able to detonate her bomb at the wedding party and fled with the guests as her husband exploded himself. Now, she is in the custody of the GID, Jordan’s intelligence agency. By all accounts, the interrogation is going slowly. Still, enough information is emerging for us to draw some lessons for the triple bombings in Amman, Jordan, on November 9. Mrs. al-Rishawi’s family history reveals just how effective the U.S. military has proven to be in eliminating insurgents. Jordanian intelligence has learned that three of her brothers were killed by coalition forces in Iraq. Her brother, Thamir al-Rashawi, a member al-Zarqawi’s inner circle, was killed in April 2004 in Fallujah, when a missile fired from a U.S. aircraft struck his pick-up truck.

Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister Marwan al-Mu’ashir described her brother, Thamir, as “the emir [commander] of the Al-Anbar region [of the Iraqi insurgency] in the Al-Qa’idah of Jihad Organization in the Land of Two Rivers. He was the right hand of Abu-Mus’ab al-Zarqawi.” Her other two brothers, Ammar and Yassir, died in separate battles with U.S. forces in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2005.

This sort of news should be convincing people that we need to kill more of this vermin and that it is a good thing that our armed forces are over there slowly draining that cesspool. I am going to have a great day thinking about this article and how tough the going is getting for the scum of Al-Queda.

And by the way, I wonder if before he died if Thamir was able to fit
“the emir [commander] of the Al-Anbar region [of the Iraqi insurgency] in the Al-Qa’idah of Jihad Organization in the Land of Two Rivers
on his business card. Wow what a title. I always get a chuckle over the titles these thugs give themselves, when just a simple description like "criminal" or "murderer" would do. Another example of this was when Aidid in Somalia called himself "general". Might as well call yourself "field marshall" or something like that while you are at it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Happy Birthday to Us!

I started this blog almost one year ago. Yep, last November 20 I started with my first post. If you want to see some gruesome blogging, look back at that first month in the archives on the left. In fact, this Sunday there will be a reunion/party of the entire staff of Life In The Great Midwest. The location: Soldier Field! I'm not sure what we are going to do with the other pair of tickets yet, but I think we will find some folks to go with us.

Anyway, it was interesting for me to look at that first month or two I blogged and contrasting it with the last month of posts. What a difference! The quality of writing and the photos is light years ahead of what it was, and now podcasts occasionally too. I have to admit, for not making a single cent on this thing, I am pretty darned proud of what has been going on around here the past year. I need to thank Carl especially, who took his time to put up posts occasionally (especially during my vacation), taking some pressure off of me. If you don't keep blogs fresh and interesting, they lose eyeballs faster than Pam Anderson is losing her looks. And I saw her on "Stacked" last night - it ain't pretty.

Speaking of blogs that lose eyeballs, many have lost mine in the past year. The only blogs I link to (on my sidebar) are ones that I look at every day. Not all of them post every day, but most do, and the ones that don't post a few times a week. When I go to a blog I need to be entertained - and bigtime. I want to hear about weird stuff or about how people go about their everyday lives. Check out part of this post from yesterday's This Blog Is Full of Crap:

Out of the four buses I rode today, two had broken fare collection units. The 102 Northbound was way, way early so I had to bolt for the Danger Train and head the 102 off at the Pass on Preston. The 102 Southbound bus was 30 minutes late and had a leaky emergency hatch, so it rained on the seats. This did not help the fact that at Benmar and Industrial, there's no shelter for the Southbound. Just sit on the wet grass or stand on the sidewalk in the rain. Yeah, thanks. A bum was selling daypasses from a wad of daypasses at the Preston platform for a buck each. The good news was that the Danger Train operator warned the riders that there were two barneyfifes at the Wheeler Station checking passes. I noticed more than one person shy away from the door, so I assumed they were going down an extra stop to dodge the barneyfifes at Museum District (The 65 riders can get away with that trick)
Now to me, that's entertainment. Blogging about the crap ass state of the Houston Metro system. Now let's go to Michelle Malkin's blog, one of the ones with the most hits per day in the entire blogosphere. Todays first post is about how the New York Times may have possibly made a mistake in the editorial section. UGH! Brutal!

It has long been an unwritten rule here that nationally syndicated editorial writers like Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich and others are off limits as far as fisking or other wise taking apart their columns go. How easy is it? Like shooting fish in a barrel. How many times do we have to do it? Why does anyone read them anymore? Malkin is by no means the only one doing this, by the way.

What affects everyday Americans more? Some jerk-off at the New York Times who doesn't do any research, then vomits forth yet another snarky editorial, only to be rebutted by legions of viewers of these mega blogs? Or a normal Joe (although many have described the author of This Blog Is Full of Crap as anything but normal) describing his daily travails on the Houston Metro? I say the ordinary guy. Why? Maybe someday someone will actually do something about the Houston Metro, whereas no one will do anything about the New York Times or Malkin's blog - both (I assume) make money so both feed off of each other. Why change?

My blogroll consists of sites I visit every day because the people amuse me, or are good writers or, in the case of Chicago Boyz, intellectually stimulate me (although their writing is exceptional as well). I participate in the comments over here frequently. But then again, if I just want a good chuckle, I may head over to The Sneeze to see if Steve is eating anything else raunchy.

Where I am going with all of this is not to write a rant, but to thank you, believe it or not. People come here, I assume because they like the view from "over here". Like the example above, maybe it affects peoples every day lives more reading mine and Carl's posts than reading the shit put out every day in our awful rag newspapers. I like to think that way, anyways.

It has been a great year blogging and now podcasting, and I hope to keep up the high level of quality in the next year. I would like to add another contributor, but good minds are hard to find, if you know what I mean. If you are interested and have something good to add, drop me an email with a sample or two of your blogposts. Don't expect to get paid or famous - do it for yourself. Or open your own blog!

Well, happy birthday to us! One year old and we are a growing boy. And to you, thank you for reading and listening.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Speedtrap, Shmeedtrap

Everyone has pet peeves and blogposts about them are pretty boring, especially if it isn't your pet peeve. But this is different. This is everyone's pet peeve.

Probably my biggest pet peeve - if you want to call it that - is that benevolent weapon of law enforcement agencies nationwide, the speedtrap.

Constantly we are told that it is done in the name of public safety. Warning! Whenever you hear someone say they are doing something for the "safety" of others, it is ALWAYS for another reason. I have deduced over the years that the only reasons for speedtraps are so the police can invade the privacy of normal citizens and get a little revenue boost at the same time.

There is no safety issue that arises from a guy going 66 in a 55 zone, especially when the road is designed for 80. I would have to say from my extensive driving on interstates and normal side streets that all speed limits are set at least 10 mph too low. Many streets here in Madison have speed limits of 25! 25! I can ride my bike faster. And often do. I wonder if I blaze through a speedtrap on my bike at, say, 29 mph if I can get a ticket?

My wife cringes every time we go through a speedtrap because she can see me grind my teeth and watch my face get red from the angst because I see them sitting there - Wisconsin's finest. Wasting another day jerking around the normal, god-fearing, taxpaying folks while true criminals are planning ways to break into their houses. Clogging up the court system with reams of tickets and citations. Fully HALF of all court cases are traffic related. Next time you hear someone complain about junk lawsuits clogging up the courts (this is bad, too) bring up traffic. Oh, by the way, islamists want to kill me and my family. Today.

But every once in a while the pot boils over. This guy is my new hero - I bet all of the thoughts I have when I see a speedtrap are shared by him. From today's Wisconsin State Journal:

Speed-trap sign saves drivers, irks officers
Doug Erickson State Journal
November 15, 2005
A few motorists may have Fred Zahn to thank for the extra money in their pockets today. Zahn, owner of Renu Auto Body in Madison, noticed a police speed trap on Fish Hatchery Road on Tuesday and decided he didn't much like the concept.

So he wrote "Speed Trap Ahead" on a large piece of cardboard and positioned himself on a nearby sidewalk. Within 15 minutes, Madison police officers booted him. "They told me it was city property and that I couldn't hold that sign there."
Zahn, who said he's never been caught by a speed trap, doesn't understand why officers didn't welcome his help. "You should have seen how people slowed down when they saw my sign," he said. "(The police) say they're out to slow people down, but you can't tell me it's not about the money."

Madison Police Capt. Cameron McLay said that while officers respect free speech rights, Zahn was interfering with a law enforcement operation and could be charged with obstructing an officer. However, McLay said the department would not be in a hurry to do that. "We try to keep a sense of humor about these things," he said. "The joke internally was perhaps we should purchase 10 to 12 of these signs and post them around the city." McLay acknowledged Zahn was slowing down motorists, but he said the goal is to alter people's driving behavior long- term, not just when someone is there holding a sign.

Note the snotty quote from Capt. Cameron McKay that I put in italics. Let it be known that these speedtraps WILL change the long term behavior of drivers - see how effective they have been? You would think if they were so effective that there would be no need for them. True??? I think that the quote is more of a shot at the "normal" citizens that decide to take things into their own hands. As a cop, he reflexively hates this and tries to downgrade the behavior for two reasons in my opinion.

1) Make the normal citizen think that they need to be more dependent on the cops

2) Elevate himself and other cops to think they are above normal citizens.

If you read articles in the future, keep these two things in mind - and remember how both applied in New Orleans during the last hurricane season.

I would also like to note this speedtrap was not too far from my house. During the last election there were people EVERY DAY with political signs strolling the sidewalks. Freedom of speech for all! Except if you are denying the cops a little revenue from a speedtrap.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Podcast #3

This weeks podcast deals with the great Charlie Parker, the Chicago Bears - sort of, and some random thoughts. Go here if you would like 13 minutes and 20 seconds of yummy podcasting goodness. And hey - it's free!

Don't forget, you can download the podcast from the page and listen to it later if you choose.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

I Am Going to Buy Something Australian Today

Via Silent Running, I found this quote by Australian Treasurer Peter Costello:

TREASURER Peter Costello said radical Muslims would not be allowed to turn Australia into an Islamic state.Mr Costello said Muslims who wanted to live in a country governed by sharia law, which imposes strict limitations on freedoms, would be better off living elsewhere.

"If you are somebody who wants to live in an Islamic state governed by sharia law you are not going to be happy in Australia, because Australia is not an Islamic state, will never be an Islamic state and will never be governed by sharia law," Mr Costello said. "We are a secular state under our constitution, our law is made by parliament elected in democratic elections. "We do not derive our laws from religious instruction."

Mr Costello said anyone who was alienated by Australia's form of government, judicial system and civil rights and wanted something else "might be better advised to find the 'something else' somewhere else". "There are Islamic states around the world that practise sharia law and if that's your object you may well be much more at home in such a country than trying to turn Australia into one of those countries, because it's not going to happen," he said.

Ha, ha I love it. Take your sharia and stick it where the sun don't shine. We will all die before that is going to happen. Hopefully. I will anyways. Too bad no American politician has the cahones to make great statements like this one.

I will donate to the Australian economy today - maybe some Fosters for the fridge. That country has stood by us through thick and thin over the years. True brothers in the fight of today - the Anglosphere vs. the rest of the damned world.

UPDATE: Just came home with six bottles of Australian varieties for the wine rack.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

It Just Doesn't Get Any Worse

Illinois football is at one of its lowest points ever. Today we got drubbed by Purdue 37-3. We have lost 21 of our last 22 Big Ten games, and this year in our 7 Big Ten games we have been outscored 313-75. Next week is our big rivalry game with Northwestern and I hope the scoreboard goes up to 3 digits because there is a distinct chance that the hated Wildcats could score over 100. I wish I was kidding.

Conversely, today is Barry Alvarez day here in the land of cheese, by order of the governor. Since Barry arrived on the scene here in 1990, he has built that program into a powerhouse. Today they lost to the hated Iowa Hawkeyes, but what a run this program has had. Bowl games virtually every year, three Rose Bowl victories, on and on the accomplishments go. Not to mention over 80,000 fans per game.

The stadium has been expanded with a bunch of luxury boxes and all of the season tickets are spoken for every year (I was lucky to get a pair in a lottery last year. Even I like to see quality Big 10 football once in a while, not to mention the excellent party scene). For all of his faults, I have to tip my hat to Alvarez - he did a great job bringing that Wisconsin program from the pits to where it is today.

Hopefully Ron Zook can do the same at Illinois. But I wouldn't bet the farm on it. I would settle for a season over .500 but that looks like it is a bit away.

Well, keep the head up Illini fans, at least we kept our nickname! Yep, the NCAA has decided that the nickname Fighting Illini is OK, but the Chief has to go or else we can't host any NCAA championship events. Hey SCREW THE NCAA!!! I have already written extensively about how the NCAA is in no position to lecture me about ethics.

Lets get real though. If we keep the Chief, we will lose the honor (money) of hosting NCAA championship events. In NCAA speak, this means no March Madness in Champaign. I cannot ever remember any NCAA tournament games held there EVER. So what's the difference? Let's keep the Chief and tell the NCAA to take their warped "wink and a smile" take on steroids and stick it where the sun don't shine.

I don't know if that will happen or not. It is pretty much up to our board of trustees. But we can always hope. Wouldn't that be the icing on the cake if we not only had one of the worst football programs in all the land, but lost our mascot? It just doesn't get any worse.

That's Gotta Hurt

Doing research for my next podcast I stumbled on this most excellent photo, from the time when men were men and there were no face masks. More on this guy in the next podcast which should be ready in the next week or so.


I am in the midst of creating my next podcast and I came upon a bit of a stumper. I found a sound file online that I could only find in the dreaded real format. I probably messed around with it for an hour trying to import it into my podcasting software to no avail. Then I went online and found this sweet program called Switch. It took literally 10 seconds to download and install and works perfectly. I converted that real file to an mp3, imported it into my podcasting software and off I went. Highly recommended if you are doing any podcasting in the near future.

And it was free!

Friday, November 11, 2005

So I Didn't Have To

Today is Veterans Day and for it I reflect on how thankful I am for all of those who have died or fought before me so I didn't have to. From the Revolutionary War, to the World Wars, to Vietnam to Iraq, thousands of men have fought and given everything for an ideal. The United States of America. I am proud of them and thankful for their sacrifices so I never had to experience the horrors of war.

The photo above from the Revolutionary War is interesting to me on many levels. Note the man loading his rifle is a plain citizen with his wife and daughters helping him. I often think that someday I may have to fight to defend my country and my property like the gentleman above and I am ready whether it be against a terrorist or a foreign power or whatever. Are you ready?

"Un"Fair Chase

Deer hunting is serious business here in Wisconsin. I knew little if anything about it until I moved here 11 years ago. During the gun deer season (I specify gun because there is also bow season) I may as well close my store because the last two weeks of November the majority of my customer base is sitting in the woods somewhere waiting for a buck or doe to come by.

It really is a culture of sorts. After harvesting a deer, many take the carcass to a processing facility to get chops, roasts and sausage. If you have never had vension sausage, you are really missing out! They make it with all kinds of different spices and it has a much lower fat content than traditional pork sausage. In fact, they have to cut the venison with pork fat to keep it together and to retain moisture in the sausage.

Generations have gone to the woods with each other for the annual fall hunt. Many have little hunting "shacks" that provide a base for the hunters. Others rent hotel rooms or cottages. It is very big business for all involved.

Recently, there was a big arrest of a person who was running a business as a guide. For those who don't know, a guide is a person who would be hired to bring hunters to the right area to get that big buck. Problem is, he was doing it off season and feeding the deer (both bad enough) and THEN his customers were transporting the illegal trophy deer out of state. The guide is pleading guilty and is squealing like a pig - his whole client list is getting charged for the illegal activity as well.

The Department of Natural Resources (I call them the fish and deer cops) here in Wisconsin has a LOT of power. They can seize your gun, vehicle, or boat if you are found to be violating the hunting or fishing rules. Not knowing the rules is no excuse. You are guilty until proven innocent.

Honestly, I have never hunted for deer, but don't have a problem with others enjoying the sport. And I love eating that Bambi. Something that struck me funny in the article is this bit from Randy Stark, the DNR chief warden:

Randy Stark, state Department of Natural Resources chief warden, said this was likely the largest case in Wisconsin involving a hunting guide and clients. He called it "a theft of a resource owned by all Wisconsin citizens" and decried the emphasis on "trophy hunting." "The role of fair chase, not just shooting an animal, is critical to the future of fair hunting," said Stark.
A resource owned by all Wisconsin citizens? How nice! I can tell hunters that they are pilfering my resource! And the future of fair hunting? Oh, I think the future of any hunting of deer here in Wisconsin is quite secure judging from the ASTRONOMICAL amount of deer ALL OVER THE PLACE.

The hunting season needs to be LONGER. I would recommend keeping the current two weeks in the fall and then having two more weeks in the early spring. Why? Because deer are EVERYWHERE. I remember when I was a youngster that it was a BIG DEAL whenever I visited my grandparents in rural northern Wisconsin and saw a deer. Now I see them almost every single day on my way to work. I am not lying. They are not just browsing in the woods in rural areas either. I have seen them next to very busy roads, near my subdivision and even in the industrial park where I work! I hit one with my minivan last year and let me tell you it is not pretty for the deer or the van. Several people die each year in this state from car/deer accidents and the frequency of these accidents is rising. According to this article Wisconsin ranks 10th in the nation in car deer accidents. That is a LOT on a per capita basis, considering the fact that Wisconsin is ranked 20th in population.

Don't tell me that the increase in the accidents or deer sightings is from urban sprawl either. The area I speak of isn't really sprawling - the deer are reproducing like damn rabbits. A good solid super cold winter would help bring the population down nicely, too - something we haven't had in several years.

Lets drop the fair chase dialog and start cleaning house - let the hunters hunt and the gatherers like me gather that tasty venison sausage.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Conceal Carry in Wisconsin

Last legislative session here in Wisconsin the folks up at the Capitol here in Madison were one vote away from decriminalizing conceal carry of handguns. It is quite an interesting story why they were one vote short. The original legislation passed through the state senate and house but was vetoed by Governor Doyle (democrat). There would have been enough votes to override the governor, but one person tipped the scale. It was a democrat from a tiny town in Wisconsin called Port Wing. This man, Gary Sherman was the author of the bill. Yep, he voted for it, before he voted against it. What a debacle, all to protect his governor.

Well, it is coming up for vote again and my source in the capitol (Yes, I really do have a source!) tells me that they do not have enough to override the veto again - but they sure will try.

During all of this, some of the most whacked out information has come out for the public to chew on and some of the most daft commentary about the issue has been floated that I have seen in a long time. Realize these are elected officials making these comments, and that 46 other states have some sort of right to carry concealed weapons.

The Wisconsin State Troopers say they would get behind the bill if there were a provision to alert them, upon a traffic stop, if that car is registered to a person who has a conceal carry permit. (All quotes below are from an article in the Wisconsin State Journal Nov. 7):

"I just think this is a no-brainer. For the life of me, I can't understand this resistance," said Casey Perry, executive director of the Wisconsin Troopers' Association. The group likely would endorse the bill if lawmakers would let officers access the list of permit holders in traffic stops, Perry said.
Give. Me. A. Break. Just like the system they have now when they stop people for speeding? Oh that's right, they don't have one. And criminals won't use one or get a conceal carry permit.

Scott Gunderson, one of the sponsors of the bill gets it right:

"The people who are going to be causing problems on these traffic stops are not these permit holders," said Scott Gunderson, R-Waterford, the bill's chief sponsor in the Assembly.

I think the root of the problem lies in the fact that the police are too concerned with pulling people over all the time for whatever reason (fully half of all court cases are traffic), but that is a different post for a different day.

Listen to what crackpot police chief of Appleton Richard Myers said about the bill:

At a hearing on the bill last week, several lawmakers seized on comments Myers allegedly made that, if the legislation were adopted, he would advise his officers to "draw down" on, or point their weapons at, any permit holders they stop. Others have attributed comments to Myers suggesting he would put permit holders at the top of any list of suspects in unsolved crimes. Myers denied making the comments, although he has said officers would adopt a more "aggressive style" when approaching vehicles if the bill becomes law and thousands of more drivers could be on the road with a gun on the seat next to them. "You tell me: Do you think cops are going to act a little bit differently with that many more guns in cars out in the state?" Myers said... Knowing before the officer gets out of his or her car whether the owner of the vehicle has a permit "could at least empower the officers to have more information and to then begin to watch for behaviors that could either mitigate their anxiety or escalate their anxiety about the presence of a gun in that situation," Myers said.
Whoa nellie!!! The sky is falling! Lets fisk it:

At a hearing on the bill last week, several lawmakers seized on comments Myers allegedly made that, if the legislation were adopted, he would advise his officers to "draw down" on, or point their weapons at, any permit holders they stop.
Are you out of your freakin' mind? Just because I legally hold a conceal carry permit you are going to draw your gun on me? Don't you think this technique would incite more gun violence? I wonder if this is the standard procedure in the other 46 states that have the right to conceal carry. Doubtful.

Others have attributed comments to Myers suggesting he would put permit holders at the top of any list of suspects in unsolved crimes.
Well of course, those persons who legally register their guns and happen to maybe enjoy shooting sports or hunting should certainly be put at the top of any and all criminal lists. I think at the top of the list should be each and every Appleton police officer, since they all have legally registered handguns and carry them around all the time with them. Makes sense, no?

Myers denied making the comments, although he has said officers would adopt a more "aggressive style" when approaching vehicles if the bill becomes law and thousands of more drivers could be on the road with a gun on the seat next to them.
A more aggressive style. Well, thank you very little. Nothing better than being guilty before proven innocent I always say. Thousands more drivers with guns on seats? Ridiculous! Most if not ALL of the permit applicants will be current gun owners who are currently transporting their weapons in what fashion? On the seat next to them, cased, unloaded! Like the current law says!!!!

Wisconsin State Statute Chapter 167.31.2 (b) says:
Except as provided in sub. (4), no person may place, possess or transport a firearm, bow or crossbow in or on a vehicle, unless the firearm is unloaded and encased or unless the bow or crossbow is unstrung or is enclosed in a carrying case.
Well, that means after going to the range, I unload my gun (duh), case it up and flop it on the front seat (or under it) for the trip home. Like everyone else does.

"You tell me: Do you think cops are going to act a little bit differently with that many more guns in cars out in the state?" Myers said.
No, you tell me. This is the elected police chief of Appleton making these obscene statements, folks. Really.

Knowing before the officer gets out of his or her car whether the owner of the vehicle has a permit "could at least empower the officers to have more information and to then begin to watch for behaviors that could either mitigate their anxiety or escalate their anxiety about the presence of a gun in that situation," Myers said.
Hey chief, are you trying to tell me that as of now, when your force makes a traffic stop, that they are assuming that the persons inside are never armed? That is what it looks like in that last bit - that if you knew the persons had a legal permit that then they would get all defensive - or offensive, as the case may be.

And none of this takes into account that the car that one of Appleton's finest is stopping may be stolen, borrowed, or a company car being used by an employee.

Well, I hope it does go through without the list being available for everyone to invade my privacy any time they desire. Until then I will read the paper, note the fallacies and laugh every time I read someone like the Appleton Police Chief make senseless comments - or will I cry?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Mayhem in France

When Katrina was raging and anarchy descended upon New Orleans, the European papers that hate the US (most of them, that is) were pretty much beside themselves with joy. They were so happy that the renegade superpower the US was brought to our knees (in their opinion) by a hurricane, with the implication (or overt statement) that if we can't even prepare for a hurricane that we knew was coming, how can we win a war on Iraq?

For example, here is a link to an article from the French paper Le Monde and a bit of an exerpt:

"Bush initially said that “the storm didn’t discriminate”, a claim he was later forced to retract: every aspect of the catastrophe was shaped by inequalities of class and race. Besides unmasking the fraudulent claims of the Department of Homeland Security to make Americans safer, the shock and awe of Katrina also exposed the devastating consequences of federal neglect of majority black and Latino big cities and their vital infrastructures. The incompetence of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) demonstrated the folly of entrusting life-and-death public mandates to clueless political appointees and ideological foes of “big government”. The speed with which Washington suspended the prevailing wage standards of the Davis-Bacon Act (2) and swung open the doors of New Orleans to corporate looters such as Halliburton, the Shaw Group and Blackwater Security, already fat from the spoils of the Tigris, contrasted obscenely with Fema’s deadly procrastination over sending water, food and buses to the multitudes trapped in the stinking hell of the Louisiana Superdome."

Now certainly New Orleans was a mess for the US, something we covered in this blog and which was covered by every news media in the US.

But what a paragraph! This gets to the heart of what the status-quo Europeans think of the US - that we are all "corporate looters", "racists" and "clueless". You can just smell the condescending tone and leering glare of superiority that oozes out of this article and many more just like it.

When you are throwing punches like that, of course, I hope you don't live in a glass house. But now FRANCE explodes into rage, with their Muslim minorities, who are penned into ghettoes and given almost no chance to succeed in France's state-run corporatism, rioting on the streets. The riots are now entering their 8th day - here is a link to a summary or you can just find these stories anywhere on the Internet.

Also, if you want to see real European "engagement" and quiet diplomacy, look at what their minister Sarkozy is saying, when he calls the unemployed (and presumably downtrodden) rioters "scum". You didn't hear Bush, that "incompetent", calling our looters "scum", but in France they can do what they want in their own house, apparently.

The bottom line, is, as bad as integration and relations sometimes are in the US, and it can be
bad and embarrassing, countries like France, China and Russia simply have no business whatsoever in lecturing us. France's problems are exploding in their face; look at how China treats their minorities in Tibet, and for the love of God look at how the Russians treat their minorities in Grozny.

I know that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" is a key motivator of all those that hate George Bush, but look who you are in bed with....

And France should just keep their opinions to themselves until they do something about their own messes, from colonialism to their own issues with extremism and minorities, to economics.

UPDATE: The ante, apparently, has been upped. This from the Belmont Club today:
It's getting real interesting. CNN is reporting that churches, schools and police stations are going up in smoke.
"In the northern city of Rouen, a police barricade was set afire and a burning car was pushed into the police station; and in Strasbourg, near the German border, a school was torched. A church was set ablaze in the southern fishing town of Sete and another in nearby Lens, Pas de Calais; two schools in the southeastern town of Saint-Etienne and a police station in the central France town of Clermont-Ferrand were torched, as was a social center in Seine-Saint-Denis, near the border with Switzerland."

Conservative = Republican, Liberal = Democrat

On it's face, the above statement seems to be true to fact. However, as I have been noting in a few previous posts, the Republican Party is abandoning it's true conservative base. But the Democratic Party is guilty of abandoning it's liberal base, as Naders performance in recent elections proves. Unfortunately, the level of political discourse in our country is on a level so low that everyone is now pigeonholed into one or the other. To the mass media Conservative = Republican and Liberal = Democrat. This merits further discussion.

One of the most bizarre examples (to me anyway) is the staunch opposition by "liberal" groups to private gun ownership. Funny that the word liberal is part of the word liberty. And usually that would not be associated with taking away the rights of the people as spelled out in the Constitution. Conversely, if you are on the other side of the gun debate, you are automatically branded a "conservative" or a supporter of the Republican Party. Keep an eye on this pigeonholing when hearing about it in the public discourse.

Another interesting issue that paints people into a corner is abortion. Supposedly, liberals are all for getting more individual rights for everyone. Everyone, that is, except for a viable fetus. Most hardcore liberals even voted against the partial birth abortion ban several years ago. How anyone could vote against this piece of legislation is beyond me, but those who did were almost exclusively Democrats, and most of them self described liberals. How is that liberal? That you could vote for a process that extracts an 8 or 9 month old viable human being and execute it does not sound very liberal to me for the fetus. As a matter of fact that is quite an authoritarian stance, wanting to let the state intrude upon the private affairs of a person. If you don't think an 8 or 9 month old fetus is a person, I guess there is not much I can do to change your mind.

I happen to believe that abortion is not a federal issue at all, rather an issue that is to be decided at the state level as the founders meant everything NOT in the Constitution was supposed to be. Note that your marriage license is issued by your state, not the US gummint. But because I favor overturning Roe v. Wade for ANY reason, those opposing this would immediately call me a conservative or Republican, just because I favor a true translation and implementation of the Constitution.

Liberals are supposed to be for more individual liberty - along with that, I would assume, would be that individuals could keep more of their own private property, i.e. money. Then why is it that the "liberals" in our government always fight tax cuts tooth and nail? To me that is not liberal at all, rather, again, an authoritarian view that is, to me, quite bizarre. We have seen what has happened when the free market has been regulated to death (Russia) and when government gets too much power (Germany).

I suppose this dead horse has been beaten quite enough for today, but as I watch the Sunday morning news shows my point is being made over and over again. Terms like right, conservative and republican are all lumped together to mean the same thing and terms like left, liberal and democrat have the same thing done to them. The level of political discourse in this country has sunk to the lowest levels I have ever seen, and the two party system is a joke. The American public isn't ready yet, but someday maybe a good third party candidate can make a good run at a big public office and make a dent. And help improve our political discourse.

Friday, November 04, 2005

New Toy - Blue Snowball Microphone

Well now! I just got in the mail my new microphone for podcasting, the Snowball by the Blue Microphone Company. It has a USB connection that you can see here, and it connected instantly to my computer with no software and worked right out of the box. Like I wish all computer peripheries did. Anyway, in a few weeks I will have another podcast for you and my speaking levels should be better and higher quality. As for the Gateway 10 year old microphone of death? It has gone to a better place - the round file.

A Touching Story

I was a very happy person. My wonderful girlfriend and I had been dating for over a year, and decided to get married. There was only one little thing bothering was her beautiful younger sister. My prospective sister-in-law was 22, wore very tight miniskirts, and generally was bra-less. She would regularly bend down when she was near me, and I always got a pleasant view. It had to be deliberate.

She never did it when she was near anyone else. One day the "little" sister called and asked me to come over to check the wedding invitations. She was alone when I arrived, and she whispered to me that she had feelings and desires for me that she couldn't overcome. She told me that she wanted to fool around with me just once before I got married and committed my life to her sister. Well, I was in total shock, and couldn't say a word. She said, "I'm going upstairs to my bedroom, and if you want one last wild fling, just come up and get me".

I was stunned and frozen in shock as I watched her go up the stairs. When she reached the top she pulled off her panties and threw them down the stairs at me. I stood there a moment, then turned and made a beeline straight to the front door. I opened the door, and headed to my car. Lo and behold, my entire future family was standing outside, all clapping! With tears in his eyes, my father-in-law hugged me and said, "We are so happy that you have passed our little test. We couldn't ask for a better man for our daughter. Welcome to the family".

The moral of this story is: Always keep your condoms in your car.

The story isn't true, but is a damn fine joke. One of the fringe benefits of working in a non-politically correct workplace. Have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Podcast #2

The Gateway 10 year old microphone of death (trademark pending)

I haven't been blogging lately to give time to my podcasting. I have just finished my second podcast and you can listen to it here. This time I have some great podcasting software I am using. Topics this week are Paris Hilton, Why I own a gun and an interesting take on the rock group Rush. Over 20 minutes! Get yourself a heaping serving of juicy podness.

Life's Not So Bad When... leave work and a sky like this greets you for your trip home...