Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

Thursday, February 28, 2002

Time to stretch a bit.

Time to stretch a bit. The kids are all busy; playing, doing homework, watching TV, whatever. You've worked all day, came home, cleaned house, made dinner, cleaned the kitchen, and now you are ready for your time. You sit down in your chair with your book that you're right in the middle of and begin to read. Instantly, all activity in the house ceases and a line of petitioners forms at your chair. Every child has just remembered something important about their day that they simply must share with you. You sort through their triumphs, tradegies, wins, lossess, needs, wants and desires, and slowly the line diminishes, until you are alone again with your book. You lower your eyes to the page, and get swept away.
It doesn't matter where. The old west, outer space, the ocean, the mountains, places you've seen, places you've seen only through closed eyes at one in the morning. New places, different places, different times, where your life is different, no regrets, no confusions, no messy areas, just neat little lines of words which fire your imagination to create things of wonder.

She clears her throat, delicately, letting you know she's still there. You missed one. One more request to fill. She's your little girl, so you lower the book, and she begins to tell you a Dickensian tale of sorrow and treachery and battles fought and won, until she finally gets to her point. She needs money for lunch tomorrow.

You hand her the change from your pocket, and, satisfied that you have done your duty, prepare to resume traipsing the world from the comfort of your recliner.

She clears her throat again. You ease your eyes up from the book, trying to show her that you are really wanting to read this one page, or maybe two, but she persists, and begins to explain all about her day, the boy she met, and the one she likes, and the girl she doesn't like, and how her friend made her feel silly, and whether she should go to the dance. You nod in the right places as her voice fades into the background, satisfied that you are doing your job, listening to her talk, but all the while wondering when you can get back to your book. Eventually she trails off, running out of things to say, and you mumble some vague reassurances, that people do like her, and things are fine, and of course she's doing well. She says OK, then starts to wander off.

You start to sink back into your book, pulling it around you, shutting out the messy world and locking yourself in with the rigid prose that sets your mind free to roam.

"Daddy?" she asks.

You slam down the book, glare over at her, annoyed at the continuing interruptions. Can't she see you want a little peace?

"What is it now?"

The hurt is bigger than her face, then anger flits across her face.

"Never mind!"

Instantly guilt consumes you. All she wanted was a little of your time, a little attention from the guy who hung the moon and stars, and you wanted to read a book instead. What kind of monster are you? You heartless bastard.

You soften your voice and ask again what she wanted, but the damage is done. Her feelings are hurt and there's a wedge between you that is your fault. She starts to go away, not crying even though she wants to, and that's the worst part, because you know she hurts, but she doesn't want to bother you any more.

You go after her, and catch her arm, and go to one knee, so she can look into your eyes and tell her you're sorry. She can see that you mean it and her smile comes back faster than it faded, and she clings to your neck, and you hold her for a minute, revelling in the easy forgiveness of a child. You ask her what it was she wanted to ask, and she says she forgot.

You growl good naturedly, swing her upside down and tease her about interfering with your reading, and get into a tickle fight that lasts until bedtime. The book lies forgotten on the table. It will still be there tomorrow, or the next day, and someday soon she won't be. And you realize that you don't really need a book to fire your imagination to create something wonderful. You've done it for real.

Posted by Rich
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I see your true colors shining through

I see your true colors shining through Like this is a surprise or something? Bill Clinton lies again.
He said it would cost America $US2.5 billion ($A4.87 billion) to meet UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's request for an extra $US10 billion ($A19.47 billion) to fight AIDS and other infections diseases.

"For us, you know what that is?" he asked the $1,100-a-head charity dinner in Melbourne for the Microsurgery Foundation.

"Two-and-a-half months of the Afghan war, and about one tenth of one per cent of the federal budget.

"That's it.

"There are 40 million AIDS cases a day and if we don't do something about it, there will be 100 million AIDS cases a day."

Let's start with some common sense. 40 million AIDS cases a day means the entire population will be infected in 40 days. Cool! Just in time for Easter.

OK, let's do a little fact checking. From Avert:
Worldwide AIDS stats as of December 2001

People infected with HIV in 2001 Total 5 Million
................................................Adults 4.3 Million
................................................Women 1.8 Million
................................................Children 15 years 800,000
No. of people living with HIV/AIDS Total 40 Million
..................................................Adults 37.2 Million
..................................................Women 17.6 Million
..................................................Children <15 years 2.7 Million

Ahhh. Now we see. 40 million living with AIDS today. Of course, that doesn't scare people enough.

Let's see what other garbage he spewed:
In a direct reference to the Howard government's woes, Mr Clinton also warned Australia needed to pull its weight in addressing global warming or the refugee crisis would get worse.

"If the world warms in the next 50 years as it has done in the last 10, ...agricultural production will be disrupted across the globe," he said.

"You'll have literally millions upon millions of food refugees, leading to more violence, more disruption and more boatloads of refugees that you will have to face."

Considering that the newest evidence shows that the troposphere has actually cooled over the last decade, and that the best climate models we have require an increase in tropospheric temperature to drive their doomsday predictions, I think it is safe to call this another lie.

Or is the "smartest president we've ever had" just a moron?

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Hmmmm.  Tricky

Hmmmm. Tricky The fellow behind Libertarian Rant enjoyed my bit about Star Trek characters as politicians. He is yearning for more though.

Just for you:

Bob Dole................Data. His lack of emotion cost him any chance at command
Checkov.................Pat Buchanon. Makes lots of noise. Screams well.
Q..........................Ross Perot. Virtually limitless power, yet always getting tripped up by idiosyncratic behaviors
The Borg Queen......Patricia Ireland. My apologies to the borg queen for this comparison
Riker......................Dick Cheney Capable commander in his own right, but loyal to the boss.
Deanna Troi............Elizabeth Dole. Great at projecting warmth and empathy. Bad at picking men.
Captain Sisko.........Colin Powell. Go ahead. Piss him off.

You know something? I have way too much free time....

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I’m curious about something

I'm curious about something In this story from Fox about the rioting in India, why do I have to scroll down over half the page before I find out why the Hindus are rioting?

Sounds a lot like the Rodney King riots all over to me. A bunch of thugs taking the opportunity to kill and destroy.

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Listening to the news

Listening to the news at lunch, I heard that there is an Air India plane on its way to New York which may be carying a man on the BBI's Most Wanted Terrorist watch list. It's now 5:30, and I haven't heard anything else.

How do you keep a news junkie in suspence?

Story at 11.


UPDATE The whole thing was a false alarm. And I only had to wait until 2130.

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That’s Amore

That's Amore I'm something of a traditionalist. I still believe in love, and that marriage is a union of two people, not just a social contract. My definition of love runs closely to what Robert Heinlein said in , among other places:
'Love' is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.

Our Dr. Feelgoods now characterize that state as a social disease called co-dependence.

They tell us that we must remain separate from our marriage and our spouse, that we must retain our autonomy. They tell us that depending on our mate is bad, because it reduces our ability to fend for ourselves. They tell us that we must be ready to jump ship at a moment's instant, because there are no guarantees, and people change. And we follow their advice, because they are the experts, right?

And because we follow their advice,and refuse to commit, and refuse to depend on our mate, we fulfill their prophecy. We grow apart; we lose our connections. The ties that we form are never strengthened, never become vital.We hold our mate at arm's length, and as long as things go well, we are all right. The fire may die, we may lose the passionate connection, but we are comfortable, and secure in the knowledge that we are still independent. Then the storm comes, and when we need those roots, those ties, they fail us. We are torn apart, because we really don't have all that much to lose. After all, we were almost alone in the first place.

But love can be so much more. A true commitment of the heart and mind without hesitation or reservation creates a union which carries more strength than both of the two possess alone. Knowing that there is someone who you can rely on to be there for you in victory or defeat for you is a tremendous source of courage, and will allow you to face down any challenge. Challenges that would destroy the 'modern' marriage can be overcome by a true commitment.

An embrace is always stronger than a handshake.

So why do we settle for this pale imitation? Is it from fear of getting hurt? Are we afraid that if we truly commit, we may get hurt by our mate, or by fate? I think so. I think we try to minimize pain by minimizing our emotional exposure. The trouble with that is we minimize our joy as well. We pass up on so much because we are afraid we may get hurt. The lesson we need to learn is that the joy is always greater than the pain. Quoting another science fiction author, Spider Robinson:
Sorrow shared is reduced; happiness shared is multiplied.

Yes, I'm feeling a little sentimental today, but I'm sure it will pass....

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Wednesday, February 27, 2002

What’s up with UPS?

What's up with UPS?I ordered a some merchandise and had it shipped via UPS. The order was shipped from three separate locations. I checked the tracking code to see where they were, and two of them were scheduled for delivery today. I checked back a few minutes ago, to see if they'd been delivered, and saw that they had not, and an exception put in.

I checked further and saw that the driver had noted a need for an apartment number.

I live in a house. There are no apartments nearby.

Now there are two houses and two mobile homes on my driveway, so I could understand some confusion, so I made sure to put large numbers on my house, to minimize confusion.

It wasn't enough.

Here's the sad part. Remember I said I had packages coming from three places? One of them was successfully delivered on Monday.


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A new link

A new link sightseeing in Plato's Cave joins the permalink section with the following timess entry:
This weekend's activities included sitting on a tree stump by the shore of Lake Tahoe. Lesson learned: Sap can be sticky for quite a long time.

True wisdom cannot be gained without experience.

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If you don’t read

If you don't read the Daily Bleat, this is what you are missing
Yesterday, for example, I redid the fridge. Tossed out the elderly vegetables, cast out the suspicious chicken, wiped down the shelves, replenished the stocks of ale from the garage. The disorder of the fridge is inevitable, and thereís nothing you can do about except clean it out before the stuff in the back attains consciousness and unionizes the lunchmeats. But before I go on the weekly shopping expedition I like to edit the fridge down to active duty personnel. I also performed minor realignment of the cupboard, which is something over which I can exercise a small amount of control. Two months ago I arranged everything by frequency of use and genre, and the fragile peace remains in effect to this day. (This aspect of my personality both thrills and frightens my wife, since I was a domestic slob when she met me, and Iíve now vaulted over her in terms of household order.)

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Welcome to the Machine Part II

Welcome to the Machine Part II According to this story in the Chicago Trib, which I found on The Daily Pundit simply standing around may become a crime.
The city has designated about 90 so-called "hot spots," areas deemed troubled by gangs, drugs and violence. The list, which is complied by police and community leaders, is kept secret by the city. It is reviewed quarterly.

"The only time under this ordinance that anyone can be arrested is if they disobey the officer's order to move on," Rosenthal said.

Folks, this isn't a game show; this is the real world. Now, if it were a crime scene, or private property, or you were commiting a crime, ie disturbing the peace, obstructing access, etc, I can accept that the police have the right to tell you to move along. But here we have a city designating secret spots, which may change quarterly, subject to no public review, where the cops can tell you to get lost, and you must comply, or face arrest. If you don't know whether the spot you are on is one of the secret spots, how will you know whether or not the officer is within his rights? Obviously, you can't. This has the effect of giving the police the right to disperse any crowd, anywhere for any reason.

Posted by Rich
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A new permanent link

A new permanent link I just discovered that through an oversite, I failed to provide a permanent link to Quasipundit. I have corrected that oversight. They provide a lively discussion of topical events, as well as a comprehensive overview of both traditional pundits, and the everchanging blogosphere.

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Little Jimmy left alone….

Little Jimmy left alone.... The American prowler notes this about Jim Jeffords:
Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords has identified his party affiliation as "Independent" since jumping from the Republican Party last year. But since he's the only one of his kind in the Senate, who to hang out with during campaign season? "He offered to campaign for Democrats," says a staffer for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "And while we appreciate the offer, there haven't been many takers."

Apparently Democrats have discovered what should have been obvious when Jeffords was a Republican. "He's got a reputation for being high maintenance," says the DSCC source. "Whenever [Majority Leader] Tom Daschle or [Whip] Harry Reid hear we could send Jeffords out on the road for Democrats, they just roll their eyes and shake their heads."

Poor Jimmy is learning what happens to all prostitutes after their looks go south on them. I hope he's not counting on the Vermont governor's job either.

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Welcome to the Machine

Welcome to the Machine The AP has a story out about a new computer chip that can be implanted under your skin. The chip would be your identity card, a personal tracking device, carry your medical records, or any other functions the maker designs.
For airports, nuclear power plants and other high security facilities, the immediate benefits could be a closer-to-foolproof security system. But privacy advocates warn the chip could lead to encroachments on civil liberties.

The implant technology is another case of science fiction evolving into fact. Those who have long advanced the idea of implant chips say it could someday mean no more easy-to-counterfeit ID cards nor dozing security guards.

Just a computer chip - about the size of a grain of rice - that would be difficult to remove and tough to mimic.

Without further ado, Pink Floyd:
Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.
Where have you been? It's alright, we know where you've been.
You've been in the pipeline, filling in time,
provided with toys and 'Scouting for Boys'.
You bought a guitar to punish your ma,
And you didn't like school, and you know you're nobody's fool,
So welcome to the machine.

Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.
What did you dream? It's alright we told you what to dream.
You dreamed of a big star.
He played a mean guitar.
And he always ate in the Steak Bar.
He loved to drive in his Jaguar.
So welcome to the machine.

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They’re here now. According to

They're here now. According to this story in Monday's Washington Post, Islamic schools teaching intolerance are locateed right here in America.
Eleventh-graders at the elite Islamic Saudi Academy in Northern Virginia study energy and matter in physics, write out differential equations in precalculus and read stories about slavery and the Puritans in English.

Then they file into their Islamic studies class, where the textbooks tell them the Day of Judgment can't come until Jesus Christ returns to Earth, breaks the cross and converts everyone to Islam, and until Muslims start attacking Jews.

One again, our 'friends', the Saudis.

"We want it to be a place where they don't have to assimilate, where they can practice their religion. It's like any other religious school," Zeiter said. "We teach them the history and good values and what it takes to be a good Muslim."

Still, Zeiter said she takes pains to present balanced lessons to students, piecing together a curriculum from books published both in the United States and overseas.

When she feels she must use material in a popular Pakistani textbook, she said, she makes photocopies of pages she needs and never uses those calling Christian beliefs "nonsense" or portraying Jews as treacherous people who financially "oppress" others. Yahiya Emerick, the author of "What Islam Is All About," said he will soon release a new edition for U.S. audiences that eliminates the tendentious parts.

If you have to censor a text book, why continue to use it?

I'm not going to pull any more quotes from the article, read it for yourself. I'll just say this. If fundamentalist Christian school was teaching the type of hatred and intolerance that these Arab schools are teaching, at best, it would be closed down within a week. At worst, they might get a visit from Reno's Rangers along about 2 am one night.

Posted by Rich
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Hello Pot?  This is Mr Kettle.

Hello Pot? This is Mr Kettle. Fox reports that Aaron Sorkin is apologizing to Tom Brokaw for remarks he made in New Yorker magazine.
Sorkin blasted Brokaw in this week's New Yorker magazine, saying that "The White House pumped up the President's schedule to show him being much busier and more engaged then he is, and Tom Brokaw let it happen - the show was a valentine to Bush."

Of course, had Aaron actually watched the show, he would remember Brokaw making that exact observation as the show began. Or maybe he did watch it, but just can't remember.

I know that if Sorkin had a chance to film a show about the inner workings of the White House, he wouldn't take any dramatic licences at all, and would tell it like it is. No romanticising of the president, no idealized picture of the people on the inside, just the simple unvarnished truth.

Yeah, right.

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