Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

 
Friday, January 31, 2003

One more for the road

Nope, no smoking gun here...no links betwen Al Qaida and Iraq. Nope. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.
WASHINGTON - A one-legged Jordanian terrorist is the man the Bush administration believes could be plotting a biological attack on the United States for Saddam Hussein if war with Iraq erupts.

He is Abu Mussab al Zarqawi, one of al Qaeda's top operational leaders and the mastermind of the London ricin plot, as well as the assassination of American diplomat Laurence Foley in Jordan last October.


An Al Qaida leader in Iraq? Threatening to act against the US if we attack Iraq? Threatening to use WMD, which they claim not to have?

Say it ain't so Susan!
"Before our kids start coming home from Iraq in body bags and women and children start dying in Baghdad, I need to know, what did Iraq do to us?" asks Sarandon in the 30-second spot,


Posted by Rich
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One for the road

Cities are being forced to pay out large sums of money to people who are hurt while committing a crime.
In another instance, Angelo Delgrande shot and wounded his parents and himself in a June 1995 dispute. He then received surgery at a hospital in Westchester County, N.Y. That night, he yanked the tubes and monitoring devices from his body and tried to commit suicide by jumping off the second story of a parking garage. Now a paraplegic, Delgrande sued the hospital for failing to treat his depression and keep him indoors. He was awarded $9 million.

And in Oakland, Calif., a bank robber didn't know the bag of cash he stole contained a time-delayed tear-gas canister that went off, scorched him and sped his arrest. He sued the bank and the police for $2 million for burning him.


Reminds me of the guy who was shot while resisting arrrest in NYC, filed a lawsuit and won a couple million dollars.

Does this make sense to anybody?

Except trial lawyers, of course...

Here's one guy who agrees with the system:
"Just because somebody robbed a bank, doesn't mean that they have no legal rights whatsoever," said Mark Geistfeld, a professor at New York University's School of Law. "The idea that all of us deserve to be protected by the law, even while we're breaking the law, is something that we all will benefit from on a daily basis."


Yep, everyday as I rip off the corner market, I'm proud to know that if the owner tries to defend himself in any way, I can sue him into bankruptcy, getting all his worldy possessions.

Legally.

Posted by Rich
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Gone for the Weekend

After school lets out, I'm taking the kids to see their grandparents in Indiana, so there will be no blogging this weekend.

Y'all take care, and I'll be back Monday

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, January 30, 2003

Your Euro at work

This tells me all I need to know about the eventual fate of the European Union:
FARMERS throughout the country have 90 days to put a toy in every pigsty or face up to three months in jail.
The new ruling from Brussels, which is to become law in Britain next week, is to keep pigs happy and prevent them chewing each other.

Official instructions to farmers are to give pigs “environmental enrichment” by providing “manipulable material”, which the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs last night defined as balls.


I was going to add a funny tagline, but I can't think of anything funnier than the story itself....

Posted by Rich
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Reverse Ludditism?

A professor at Texas Tech is getting sued for refusing to write recommendations for students who do not believe in evolution.
Dini writes that he has the policy because he doesn't believe anyone should practice in a biology-related field without accepting "the most important theory in biology."

"Good scientists would never throw out data that do not conform to their expectations or beliefs," he writes.


Kinda naive for a professor, who should know that good scientists disregard data all the time when it disrupts their pet theories.

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know that I have several problems with the theory of evolution as currently espoused, particularly regarding the origin of life. I'm not real fond of scientific creationism either, because there's more religion than science. Despite it's flaws, evolution is the dominant theory today, and should be respected as such. Pr. Dini has every right to refuse a letter of recommendation for students who refuse to acknowledge that, even if his reasoning is flawed. After all, the doctors who overprescribed anti-biotics were all trained in classical and neo Darwinism. To attribute the resulting antibiotic resistant disease strains to a belief in creationism is ludicrous.

The article ands with this grammatical gem:
Department spokesman Jorge Martinez refused to not confirm or deny an investigation, citing department policy.


Hunh?

Posted by Rich
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Will the new leaders of Europe please stand up?

Read this
We in Europe have a relationship with the U.S. which has stood the test of time. Thanks in large part to American bravery, generosity and farsightedness, Europe was set free from the two forms of tyranny that devastated our continent in the 20th century: Nazism and communism. Thanks, too, to the continued cooperation between Europe and the U.S. we have managed to guarantee peace and freedom on our continent. The trans-Atlantic relationship must not become a casualty of the current Iraqi regime's persistent attempts to threaten world security.


Signed by the leaders of Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain.

So much for the charges of unilateralism. As for France and Germany, well, if we need to learn how to surrender, we'll call the French. If we want a Volkswagon Beetle, we'll call the Germans.

Posted by Rich
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I can’t believe he SAID that!

I thought he had more sense than that:
Former South African President Nelson Mandela, who Bush has praised as a hero of human rights, joined the chorus of critics by calling Bush arrogant and implying the president was racist for threatening to bypass the United Nations and attack Iraq.

"Is it because the secretary-general of the United Nations is now a black man? They never did that when secretary-generals were white," Mandela said.


No, and people who hate us never flew planes into our buildings killing thousands before either. It's a new world out there, Sparky. You might want to pay attention.

It gets even worse:
Mandela accused the United States of committing what he called "unspeakable atrocities" around the globe. "If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don't care."


I guess one of those atrocities was helping force an end to apartheid and getting your butt out of jail.

"All that he wants is Iraqi oil because Iraq produces 64 percent of oil in the world," Mandela said. "What Bush wants is to get hold of that oil."


Apparently, prison has addled his brain.

According to this, 62% of world oil production in 2001 came from non OPEC nations.

OK, maybe he meant that Iraq produced 64% of the oil from the Middle East.

Nope. Same source shows that Saudi Arabia alone produces 7.38 million barrels a day, nearly 4 times the amount Iraq produces, making it impossible for Iraq to produce 64%.

Ok, maybe he meant 64% of oil reserves.

Nope. According to this, Iraq has about 11.4% of the world's oil reserves.

Well, maybe he meant 64% of Middle Eastern oil reserves.

Nope, same source shows Iraq at 17.6%.

What a crock.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, January 29, 2003

The Ultimate Tagger

Most grafitti artists stick to walls, or bridge abutments, but that wan't good enough for Dr. Michael Guiler
Michael Guiler told NBC's "Today" show that marking the uterus is a necessary part of the surgery, adding that surgeons rely on such markings to orient themselves within the human body


Guiler said he simply picked the initials of his alma mater, the University of Kentucky, as his marker for convenience.


Posted by Rich
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More on the SOTU

I forgot to mention his call for research into hydrogen powered cars. As I posted earlier, fuel cells do not get us off foreign oil, nor do they reduce pollution because the energy to make the hydrogen has to come from somewhere. In fact, because of losses, we will use more energy, not less. Part of this money will have to go to developing clean energy sources, such as solar, geothermal, wind, or nuclear.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, January 28, 2003

State of the Union

I thought the speech was well done, although it contained little that was surprising. I was disappointed, though, in the democrat reaction. Their dislike of our president is so strong that the were reluctant to stand even on things as inoffensive as praising our men and women in uniform.

Shameful.

A few notes on the speech itself:

1. Hillary! sat with Lieberman. Is this a preview of the Democratic ticket? If so, who's the boss?

2. The AIDS in Africa initiative was something of a surprise, particularly in the amount pledged, 15 billion over 5 years.

3. Prescription drugs for senior citizens. Why not for everybody? Why should one group be favored just because they are older? Somehow, that seems to violate equal treatment, but I guess I'm not supposed to notice that. I'm sure that Bubba, being a little bit closer to senior status than I am, will be able to explain it for me....

4. Ensuring that all people have affordable healthcare. Why? Health care is not a right; it's a benefit of living in a wealthy society. All the same, I do have an idea on how to provide health care to lower income folks; let folks who got gov't loans to get through med school pay those loans back with pro bono service instead of money. They aren't paying the money back anyway; at least this way we get some value out of it. Instead of a few hundred dollars a month, a few hours a month in a clinic. Seems win-win to me.

5. Call to ban partial birth abortions and all human cloning. Most of Congress favored ending partial birth abortion, but support for a ban on cloning was lukewarm at best. A funny thing, while many who support cloning for research oppose cloning for reproduction, they are not able to articulate why in any way which distinguishes them from those who oppose cloning altogether. They apply basically the same arguments at a different point in the process.

6. "Well, let's put it this way. They are no longer a problem to the United States and our allies" [quote from memory] I really think that this was an oblique reference to Osama bin Laden. He's toast.

7. Allowing Colin Powell to present new intelligence to the UN is a great move for the President. Powell all along has been the voice of caution, and is known to resist the idea of going to war unless all other options are exhausted. Allowing him to make the presentation sends a clear message that all other options are exhausted.

8. Gary Locke's response was absent of any specifics at all. He claimed that the Dems have a specific plan to help people and the economy now, yet he did not articulate that plan. He stated that Bush's plan would force seniors to leave Medicare in order to get prescription drugs, a harge which Bill Frist refuted a few minutes lkater. According to frist, seniors would have access to a plan similar to the one Federal employees have, or they could remain with Medicare.

9. Joe Biden indicated that the President has already scheduled another major speech, to take place shortly aafter Powell addresses the UN. I believe that will be the call for war.

10. No call for nuclear propelled rockets to Mars. Sorry, Richard. Maybe next year.

Posted by Rich
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State of the Union preview

My predictions:
1. President Bush will say that war with Iraq is now justified. We have all the evidence we need from Hans Blix's report. Iraq has not disclosed the whereabouts of weapons that we know they have, based on earlier inspections.

2. President Bush will not declare a war, or signal that action is imminent. He will ratchet up the pressure, but don't expect any call for war. Also, I don't expect any bombshell revelations in this speech, instead a summary of what we know so far. The "smoking gun" won't be delivered for another 3 to 4 weeks. The reason is simple. Never back a rat into a corner unless you're ready to kill it, because any cornered animal will fight with everything it has. Think about it; if we released intelligence documenting the precise location, type, and disposition of Hussein's WMD, he would have only one choice: use 'em or lose 'em. Once the "smoking gun" is public, the time for talking is over.

3. President Bush will defend his economic stimulus package, calling on Congress to act in a bipartisan manner to quickly enact the package of tax cuts and spending initiatives. He will place particular focus on his plan to give $3000 to folks to be used to help find work. I'm tempted to get fired just to get the $3000.

4. Contrary to the wishes of Richard Hoagland, President Bush will not announce an initiative to produce nuclear powered spacecraft for a flight to Mars. But it's a nice thought.

5. We'll see the usual programmed ovations, both partisan and bipartisan. That's one part I could live without. I wonder what penalty you pay to your party if you stand when you shouldn't?

6. Immediately after the speech, the talking head's will all repeat what the speech said, reading from their annotated copy, given to them well in advance. For this, they get paid the big bucks. After them, the "analysts" will come on and the ones on the right will praise everything the President said, while the ones on the left will curse it. There will be no meaningful analysis.

7. The Democratic response will be muddy, emotional, filled with worn out rhetoric. It will attack President Bush's plan, but offer no alternative. If the Dems had a viable alternative, then one of the Presidential hopefuls would be giving the response.

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, January 26, 2003

Chicago

I saw that Chicago took a lot of awards on the Golden Globes the other night, so Friday night I went to see what all the fuss was about.

I and about 12 other folks had to sit through about 10 minutes of commercials before the movie started. Not trailers, mind you, but commercials. Message to theater owners; if I want to see commercials with my movies, I'll wait until they hit HBO. I've already shelled out $7 for a ticket, and $7 more for popcorn and a coke; I don't need you shilling more crap on my dime.

When I go to the movies, one of my favorite parts is the coming attractions. Sadly, many times they are more interesting than the movie I'm there to see. This night was an exception, probably because of the main movie. I don't think studios are going to pitch XMen2 at an art house. One movie, The Quiet American looks good, although I have a hard time picturing Brendan Fraser as a CIA agent. BUt it has Michael Caine, and although I haven't forgiven him for On Dangerous Ground or Miss Congeniality yet, I do still try to see anything he's in.

The other trailer of note was for The Hours, which I'll wait to miss on video.

Chicago tells the story of chorus girl Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) who winds up in prison after murdering her lover. While there she meets her idol, Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), also in jail for murdering her husband and sister. The two women share a fast talking smooth operating lawyer, Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), who promises to get them off, and make them famous. The movie also stars the ubiquitous John C. Reilly, who plays Roxie's somewhat less than bright husband, and Queen Latifah as the prison matron, Mama. It may well be nearly impossible to make a movie in Hollywood without giving Reilly a part. I'm beginning to think the only reason Peter Jackson filmed The Lord of the Rings in New Zealand was to get away from Mr. Reilly.

Roxie: "Jesus, Mary and Joseph!"
Mama: "You talkin' to the wrong people, girl!"

The above quote is the heart of this movie. It celebrates the venality of man, so we watch with a feeling akin to the fascination we feel when passing a car wreck on the side of the road; we know it's going to be ugly, but we want to see just how ugly. There's a difference between exploring the darker side of our natures, as in The Gangs of New York, and celebrating it, as in this movie. In Chicago, there is not a single charater I cared about. Roxie is vain, manipulative, and grasping from start to finish, as are Velma and Billy. Mama is as corrupt as they come, and Roxie's husband Amos is too dim to be counted as loyal.

What keeps us involved in the show is the music and the dancing, which is top notch throughout. All three leads perform admirably, including Gere, who at times seems to channel Robert Preston's Harold Hill. (As an aside, if you want to remake The Music Man, Gere would be a much bette choice than Ferris Bueller.) The singing and dancing were top notch, with the surprise performance being Reilly's song, Mr. Cellophane, the only touching moment in the movie.

3 out of 5. I'd like to give this movie a higher rating, because it was so well done, but the incessant cynicism wore me down after a while.

Posted by Rich
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Friday, January 24, 2003

Reunited

I just found out the Virginia Heinlein died on Saturday, Jan 18.

For those of you who don't know who she was, she was the wife of Robert Heinlein, one of the great American writers of all time. Calpundit has a quick rundown of who she was, and if you need to know who Robert was, go here, or here, or here.

As for me, I have to say that much of my personal and political philosophy is rooted in Heinlein's work. Since Ginny was an integral part of that work, inspiring several of his female characters, I owe as much to her as to him.

Now, after 24 years of being apart, they are together again.

Posted by Rich
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A very special occasion

Today marks a special occasion. Can you guess what it is?

Today is the first day of my second year as a blogger.

365 days, 769 posts, 24,000 hits (some of those actual people and not web 'bots), $1.63 in the tip jar, and here I am.

A lot of things have changed since I started. I've gone from writing in a vacuum to membership in the rapidly expanding RockyTop Brigade. I've seen the Blogger's Bash grow from a three person luncheon to almost twenty blogger's spouses, friends and readers. I've met people I wouldn't have met otherwise, and even enjoyed long chats with (gasp) a liberal!

I've gotten comments and emails from all over the country, and beyond. I've seen my blog linked to on some blogs that I highly respect, while others still ignore the inevitable, and fail to link me. I've debated with lawyers, scientists, architects, engineers, writers, newspapermen, students, and given the anonymity of the internet, who knows who else. I haven't gotten much hate mail yet, except for a brief bit about my hair style, but I'll keep trying.

I've seen spikes in my readership whenever Instapundit adds a link, and slumps whenever life intervenes in my blogging, but I'm pleased to see that the average continues to increase slowly, and that my direct referrals now outnumber my 'bot hits. Of course, referrals still make up the bulk of my traffic, but that's the nature of blogging.

To last in blogging takes only persistance; anybody with a little self discipline can blog for a year or so, but it takes something more to continue to grow, particularly when there's so much competition.

In the coming year, I hope I have enough time to upgrade this site, adding a few more pages, and learning enough html to really upgrade the look. Who knows, if I get feeling really flush, I may even pay somebody to do a site design for me.

Naaah, I'm too cheap for that; I'll figure it out eventually.

So, I hope y'all have enjoyed the trip as much as I have, and I hope you continue to enjoy whatever it is I'm doing here.

Posted by Rich
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A brief message to TDOT

Hey guys, I know you don't handle snow all that often, but here's a tip.

When the sun hits the streets, it combines with cars to melt the snow left behind after you scrape. When the sun goes down, any water left becomes ice. If you know that it's going to be too cold for your de-icing fluid to work,

DON"T PUT IT ON THE STREETS!

Before it has a chance to do it's job, the cold causes it to freeze, and all you've done is Zamboni the roads, which is great for a hockey game, but sucks when you are trying to drive.

Just a suggestion

Posted by Rich
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