Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

 
Friday, January 30, 2004

I know I said Monday, but I couldn’t wait that long!

Well, folks, a lot has happened in the world since I've been away. Here's a few quick reactions:

Dean is done. When you have to ask your professional staff to work without pay because you don't have the money to cover the payroll, that means game over. I was shocked to hear about this on NPR, what with all the blather about dean's fundraising abilities, the vast network of volunteers organized through the internet, and what not. You'd think he'd be the last candidate to run into financial difficulties, particularly with a $45 million war chest. But it's all gone now; he's down to his last $5 million. Oddly, it appears that out of $40 million, only about $10 million actually went into media buys; the rest went to pay overhead. According to NPR's report, in an average campaing, it's usually the exact opposite; 75% of expenditures go to getting the message out, with only 25% going to overhead.

I wonder how all those kids who signed up on the websites feel, knowing that the paid Dean operatives pocketed $3 of every $4 the volunteers raised for the campaign.

What does this remind me of? Oh yeah, can you say "Enron?"

I knew that you could.

The Grown-ups are Back in Charge Over the summer and fall, we were subjected to endless blather from the media about the Dynamic Dean with his internet army, and Clinton stand-in Wesley Clark, US Army Ret. (early). While most folks with real lives couldn't even name more than one or two candidates 3 months ago the furor was raised by the most partisan fringes of the Democratic Party. The media played along because it sold papers, and was kinda fun. It certainly made for better press than Gephardt or Kerry going about the nations business.

Boring.

But it's winter now, and people are actually voting and the kids and whackos are being supplanted by rational adults. It's no surprise then that the candidate thought to have the best chance at winning the nomination before the silly season began, John Kerry, is once again the front runner.

The BBC: Just as Reliable as the National Enquirer The past few years have not been kind to the dominant media organizations. First Jayson Blair makes a laughing stock out of the New York Times by fabricating reports, and now Andrew Gilligan does the same for the BBC. (With a name like Gilligan, you kinda had to suspect this all along, right?) Lord Hutton's inquiry found that not only was Tony Blair's government innocent of charges that they'd "sexed up" intelligence to back the war in Iraq, but that Andrew Gilligan had misquoted and distorted the statements of David Kelly in order to make that charge. Kelly, apparently distraught at both the lies being based on his statements, and being revealed as the source of the statements, suicided.

Oddly, Andrew Gilligan is still employed at the BBC, although the top two men there have resigned.

Obviously, Gilligan attended the Bellesiles School of Modern Journalism, where you're taught if you can't find the facts you need, just make them up.

John Kerry: He Stands for....umm...well...I'll get back to you after I poll. John Kerry revealed in the debate last night that he thinks the threat of terrorism is exaggerated. Talk about a disconnect with reality. Let's see; anti war protestors claimed that a single American life was too high a price to liberate Iraq. Apparently 3000 American lives are not enough to convince Mr. Kerry to act in defense of the rest of us.

But this isn't surprising. As has been covered recently, Kerry is well known for waffling and is apparently capable of holding contradictory positions simultaneously. I admire his mental flexibility, but I think I'd prefer a President who actually stood for something.

Clark is Clueless I watched a couple of the Clark commercials on late night TV, stuck in with the rest of the infomercials selling tacky useless junk you'd only consider purchasing at 3AM. His main campaign platform according to these commercials is that he'll get us out of the mess in Iraq. Since the majority of Americans appear to support our actions in Iraq, I doubt that's a campaign message that will win him the White House. That combined with his poor showing in NH indicates that the General is about to get an early retirement.

Again.

The Presidential Race I'm going to go out on a limb here folks, and call this one early. The dems are running on a simple platform. "I can beat George Bush." While that may be a wonderful message to rally your base, it's not going to resonate with the majority of voters who approve of the job the President is doing. Jobs are growing, the economy is growing, the market is up, and even manufacturing is beginning to recover. Bush has co-opted most of the Dems best issues, courting seniors and immigrants. In short, the dems have nothing to run on except their irrational hatred of George, and hatred won't win an election. The collapse of the Dean campaign and the continued irrelevance of Clark mean that the nomination is Kerry's to lose. He will run against Bush and lose handily, although probably not in a landslide, unless the fringe deserts the Democratic party in a hissy fit over the Dean debacle.

The dark horse in the race is Edwards. Should dems decide Kerry is too vulnerable based on his well documented waffling on virtually every major issue facing the country, they might well turn to the relatively unknown Edwards, who has run a masterfully positive campaign.

No WMD Stockpiles in Iraq: Bush Lied That's what the liberals say after Kay resigned. Of course, they neglect the parts of his report about how there were significant efforts by Saddam to acquire WMD, that the failure to do so was less due to UN sanctions and inspections and more due to corruption in the Iraqi scientific community. They forget the part of his Congressional testimony about how there is evidence that parts of the programs were transported into Syria. The don't tell you the part where Kay says intelligence failures, not politically motivated deceptions were behind the universal belief that Saddam had WMD. And they conveniently forget that the only folks claiming the war was based solely on WMD were liberals who opposed it.

Gratitude: Hezbollah Style In a goodwill gesture, Irael released hundreds of Hezbollah prisoners in return for the release of 1 Israeli hostage, and the bodies of threee soldiers. Displying the truth that no good deed goes unpunished, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's leader, promised to kidnap more Israelis in order to secure the release of more members captured by Israel while planning or conducting terrorist acts.

Ignorance Rools in Georgia There is a serious effort in Georgia to eliminate the word "evolution" from science curricula in high school, and replace it with "biological changes over time." Given the vociferous attacks of scientists on religion, i'm not altogether surprised that religious folk have begun to strike back. Unfortunately, this isn't the way to do it. While I have some strong reservations over the completeness of modern evolutionary theories, they are the best explanation to date, and should be taught as such until something better comes along, and folks, in a scientific framework, creationism ain't it.


Man I missed doing this!

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Thank You

I want to thank everybody who has responded with their sympathy and condolences. It really means a lot to me, trite as that may sound. I find I'm thinking and speaking in cliches a lot right now.

My family is beginning to move back towards something like normalcy, and the thoughts and best wishes from my friends here and in the real world have helped in that process more than y'all could possibly know.

My father's death has led me to reassess my priorities, which is going to lead to some major life changes over the next few months. While my core beliefs remain intact, my new perspective is changing the way I live up to them.

I have a new motto, given to me by a lady who claims she got it from my father (long story).

Don't Wait.

Regular posting will resume next Monday.

Posted by Rich
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Monday, January 19, 2004

George Edward Hailey Sr.  April 28, 1942-Jan 18, 2004

dadweb.jpg

Taken too soon and too fast.

I spent Saturday with him and my mother at the hospital. I'm not sure if he knew I was there or not. He was dehydrated, in renal failure, potentially suffering from peritonitis, and his liver was failing. They had him sedated to allow his body its best chance to heal itself. The prognosis wasn't good. Even if he came through this crisis, his liver was too damaged; it would have been a matter of months at best.

Throughout the day, he had brief periods of consciousness. Although I'm not sure how lucid he was most of the time, there were brief moments where he seemed aware of his surroundings. At one point, my mother was leaving the room and she said to him, "I love you."

His eyes opened and he mumbled, "I love you."

Those were his last words.

Around 6PM on Saturday, the nephrologist gave us a little good news; his kidney function was climbing, from shutdown to 20%. He felt that Dad was recovering, and that additional rehydration and antibiotics to combat the peritonitis should pull him through the crisis.

Around 4AM Sunday morning he took a turn for the worse. His blood pressure began dropping, as did his heart rate. Apparently, the rehydration allowed the infection to run wild through his body. Mom called us at about 5:20. By 6:00 it was over.

I still can't believe he's gone.

mdlake.jpg

Posted by Rich
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Friday, January 16, 2004

We apologize for the interruption…

My dad has just been admitted to the hospital for what looks to be complications from cirrhosis of the liver, brought on by a combination of hemochromatosis and alcohol abuse.

Obviously, I won't be posting for the next few days.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Risk

In Monday's post on why I'm getting a gun, I talked a little bit about assessing risks, and I wanted to take a few minutes to expand on it because it's an area that most people know nothing about. In most cases, they tend to proceed by gut reaction, rather than using a dispassionate, analytic view, and that leads them into making flawed decisions, often times with catastrophic results.

Take DDT for example. DDT is a very effective insecticide, once widely used to control mosquitos in an attempt to prevent the spread of malaria. And it was very successful. At the heighth of its use, malaria was all but eliminated. But because widespread overuse of DDT lead to thinning of raptor (eagles, falcons, hawks) eggs, and a resultant decrease in their population, it's use was banned. Currently, mosquitos infect approximately 500 million people with malaria annually, of whom about 3 million die. So our decision was to sacrifice 3 million lives per year, most of them in third world nations, to protect eggshells.

That kind of thinking is hard to fathom, mainly because it isn't thinking at all, but an emotional reaction disguised as thought. And because it's an emotional process, it doesn't yield to logical debate. Even though it is ludicrous to allow 3 million people to die every year, and millions more to suffer with recurring bouts of malaria, we can't even discuss alternatives to the ban, like judicious use of DDT, without being attacked as environmental rapists. So one out of every twenty kids in sub Saharan Africa will continue to die from a disease that we could easily control.

Risk assessment is a three step process. In the first, you analyze the probablity of the risk and the severity of its consequences. Next, you determine preventive actions to minimize each risk. Then you evaluate the remaining risk level and determine if the potential payoff outweighs the consequences of failure. By following this process, you come out with a reasonable course of action. Let's step through the process once to see how it works in a real life situation.

A few months ago, I was turning a bowl on my lathe, and I was finish sanding the interior. It was a deep, closed bowl, more like a vase actually, and I couldn't reach in deep enough to sand the bottom 2 inches. The opening was just wide enough that I could slip my hand inside the bowl to reach the bottom, but I would have to stop the lathe to do it because of the tight fit. Once my hand was inside, I could restart the lathe, sand the inside, stop the lathe, then pull my hand out.

Don't laugh; I've heard much worse.

OK, Phase 1, what are the risks involved? Basically, there are two. Either my hand would wedge in the vase, breaking it off the lathe and sending wood shards everywhere, or my hand would wedge in the vase, causing a spiral fracture of my radius and ulna sending bone shards everywhere.

That would be a bad thing.

Next, we need to catagorize the risks by probability and severity. You don't need actual numbers for this, although they do help; a general idea of each will do. Draw a table with two rows and two columns. Label the rows high prob and low prob, and the columns high severity and low severity. Next, place the risks in the appropriate box. In this case, because I'm a klutz, both risks would have to get high probability. Breaking the vase isn't that big of a deal, so it could get a low severity, but breaking my arm definitely goes into the high severity box.

Now we have three catagories of risk. Catagory A is the high probability/high severity risk; Catagory C, the low probability/low severity risks. And the rest are in Catagory B. Now we're ready for phase 2.

In phase 2, we assign our available resource to minimize the risks we identified in Phase 1. Obviously, we concentrate on Catagory A first, then B then C, and allocate resources until all the risks have been minimized or we run out of resources.

In this case, our Catagory A risk is me getting my arm twisted off. I could minimize the risk by:
  1. Reshaping the mouth of the bowl to make it wider.
  2. Lubricating the bowl and my wrist to prevent it from catching.
  3. Fastening the bowl loosely in the chuck so it will come loose before my arm breaks.
  4. Wearing a brace on my wrist to support it if it does catch.

Options 3, and 4 won't work because a loose bowl on a lathe represents it's own risks, and my hand is already too large to go into the bowl; a brace would make matters worse. Option 1 would work, but the bowl needed a narrow mouth, so in this case, it's unacceptible.

Which leaves us with Option 2, grease up that sucker and ram 'er in.

Our catagory B risk, the vase flying off, can be taken care of by tightening the chuck for an extra secure grip.

So, now it's time for Phase 3, risk vs. reward. I've done what I can to minimize the risk involved with sticking my hand into a bowl spinning at 300 rpm. Now I have to ask myself, "Is getting a perfectly smooth interior finish worth having to learn to dress myself with one hand?"

NOPE!

I found an alternate method to sand the inside (applied ashesive backed sandpaper to a short length of garden hose) and sanded the bowl that way.

Now obviously, in this case I didn't go through a step by step process like that because it was so simple, but it serves to show the principles involved, and how a systemized approach to risk assessment can guide you from an irrational response, like never sanding another bowl, to a rational one, like finding a safer way to sand it.

Returning to the DDT case, by evaluating the risk/reward structure you can balance harm to the raptor population against the benefit to the human population, and come to a reasonable position that maximizes the benefits while minimizing the risks.

Posted by Rich
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Monday, January 12, 2004

Arma virumque cano

Dang, that's pretentious!

I sing of arms and the man, the opening line of Virgil's Aenied. I had to translate the blasted thing my junior year in high school.

Yeah, I took three years of Latin. But I recovered.

Today, we'll be discussing why I've decided to arm myself after 40 years of going unarmed.

When I announced my decision, and asked for help, I got lots of good comments and advice, and also some interesting questions.
  • Why do you suddenly feel the need to have a gun?
  • Have you ever needed one before?
  • When was the last time you needed a gun?
  • Are you playing follow the leader?
  • Is it for fun or self defense?


Well, first of all, I'm not following anyone's lead on this. I couldn't care less whether Glenn has a gun or not. If I were going to imitate something about him, I'd get a smart, beautiful wife, and buy a Mazda RX-8, not a gun. And maybe blend a few puppies.

But I digress.

Second, while I do expect to enjoy shooting (I enjoyed my rather limited experience with guns in summer camp, and I also enjoy using my bow) this is more a practical decision than recreational.

Third, I have indeed been in a situation where I wished I was armed and wasn't. I was a night clerk at a mini-mart and got robbed at gunpoint. The robber didn't wear a mask, and paused on his way out after taking the money. He was drunk, high, or both, and as he paused and stared at me, I was watching his gun hand. The gun was down at his side, but he started to bring it up, and I got ready to hit the floor behind the counter. You have no idea how helpless that feels, knowing somebody could end your life and you couldn't do a thing to stop him.

Obviously, I lived. He dropped his hand and went out the door, and I stood there for 5 minutes, just like he said, then called the police.

Two months earlier, I had been working at another store in the same chain, and the manager came in one night to talk to me. Her husband was on the police force, and he had just caught two guys who had beaten a 70 year old man to death while robbing him. One turned state's evidence o the other, and informed the police that the night of their capture, their plans were to rob and kill me, and the rob and kill the manager of the grocery store across the street.

These two events not only ended my retail sales career (no real loss) they started me on the path to gun ownership.

Here's the thing. Twice now, I've been in situations where I was completely unable to defend myself. In the first, I was at the mercy of a robber. In the second, it was only dumb luck that the police caught these guys when they did. In both cases, my survival was out of my control. I placed the primary responsibility for my safety into somebody else's (the police) hands.

That wasn't a good feeling then, and is even worse now. By their nature, in a crisis, police are reactive, not proactive. If I get shot, knowing that they will spring into action to try and trackdown the guy who killed me is a very cold comfort. As a matter of personal philosophy, as well as practicality, I've long considered buying a gun and learning to use it in self defense.

But I haven't acted on it until now. Why?

Because until now, I've had very young children in the house, and the risk/reward calculation said it was better to rely on the law of averages than on a gun. Crime is fairly low and I live in a safe area. The chances of something happening where I might need a gun were very low, so the value of having guns around the house was also very low. At the same time, because I had small children in the house, there was also an appreciable risk of a real tragedy. In my opinion, the reward (increased ability to defend myself and my family), was outweighed by the potential danger (a child getting ahold of a gun). Add to that reasoning the steps needed to make a gun at home safe from a child (unloaded, trigger-locked, and locked away) and the gun would be virtually useless in an emergency situation.

But now the children are older; all but one have been through a hunter safety class in school, and have handled and fired a shotgun. They know what to do around guns, and are old enough and disciplined enough to follow the rules. The chances of a tragedy are now low enough that, again in my opinion, the benefit now outweighs the risk.

But this is only part of the answer, because this has been true for a while now. Both of my oldest sons have shotguns, given to them by my father. They are kept safely in the house, and nobody messes with them. So why am I acting now?

Last week, I started a discussion on my personal philosophy. In the process, I started thinking about the implications of some of my basic assumptions, particularly the first one, about maximizing freedom. Freedom carries a price along with it; responsibility. If I want a small, unobtrusive government, then I have to shoulder much of the burden of my own existence. I'm responsible for earning a living, paying my taxes, paying for my medical care, and so on.

I also must shoulder at least some of the responsibility for my own protection.

Citizen safety can run the entire spectrum from full police state to complete self reliance, AKA anarchy. As the slider moves away from police state to total self reliance, the citizen takes on more responsibility for his own safety. Now that doesn't mean the citizen forms vigilante groups and lynch mobs, but that we should take the steps necessary to protect our selves, our families, and our property. It's very similar to taking a first aid course. You're not trying to replace the EMT or the doctor, but to augment them. Since I find the idea of a police state totally abhorrent, I believe that I must accept more of the responsibility for defending myself and my family.

There's another reason that contributes to my decision to arm myself, one inherent in the second amendment. Some see the first clause of the second amendment as a restriction on the right to bear arms. They claim that by mentioning the militia, the signatories to the Constitution only wanted a National Guard type organization to be armed. But I have a somewhat different take, one that accounts for both clauses of the amendment, unifying them into a coherent whole. Rather than the first restricting the second, it actually intensifies it.

It says, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a
free State..."

Necessary to the security of a free State.

Necessary.

The Second Amendment tells me that those who wrote and ratified the Constitution believed that a Militia, drawn from a population of citizen gun owners was necessary for the security of a free state. Not only is it my right to own a gun, but, according to this interpretation, I have a responsibility to do so, not only for the safety of my family, but for the safety and security of my nation.

Granted, this is not a typical interpretation of the Militia clause, but it makes sense, particularly so in today's world. Not only do we have a criminal threat to contend with, we now have to consider a terrorist threat as well. Homeland Security suffers from the same problems the police do, albeit to a lesser extent; they are reactive, rather than proactive. While this greatly hampers their effectiveness, the only other option is the one we've discussed before, of giving them enough power that we live in a police state.

We've gone too far down that road already.

So, since I am unwilling to give anybody the power they would need to provide for my personal security, I must shoulder that responsibility myself.

Posted by Rich
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First Trip to the Range.

Well, I'm a pistol virgin no longer. SayUncle and I headed out to the range where he gave me my first lessons in shooting handguns. I learned quite a bit about shooting, both practical information (Don't touch the trigger until you're ready to shoot.) and legal (requirements to purchase a gun, requirements for concealed carry, training courses etc.)

When we first got to the store, there were about 10-15 people wandering the store, waiting their turn on the range. While we were waiting for my orientation tour, Uncle took me over to the counter and showed me several guns that he would recommend, and some he wouldn't. He stressed that in firearms, as in everything else, you get what you pay for.

Looking at the guns, I was struck by their singleness of purpose. A knife can be used as a tool as well as a weapon. A steak knife doesn't look intimidating, even though it can cut and stab as well as a K-BAR. But looking at a gun, you know it has only one purpose.

That's a sobering realization.

The orientation tour was brief, but thorough, and the attendant made sure I didn't have any questions.For those of you who've never been at an indoor range, it's loud! I had on earmuffs, and it was still loud. The range we were at had 9 lanes and all were in use when we went in. Eye and ear protection were required, and double hearing protection was recommended if you wanted it.

The rules of the range were simple, and related to safety. One gun and one ammo type at a time on the line. Additional guns, ammo, etc kept behind the line. Do not cross over the line for any reason. When the alarm sounds, stop shooting and set you gun on the table. Always keep the gun pointing down range. Don't put your finger on the trigger until you're ready to shoot. Never hand anyone a loaded gun.

After the orientation, Uncle showed me the basic operation of a Glock 30 .45. Yeah, I started with a big gun. He showed me how to insert the clip and work the slide to load the chamber, then how to remove the clip and clear the chamber to insure the gun was empty. Then, he went over some basic rules of gun safety. Always assume the gun is loaded. Don't put your finger on the trigger until you're ready to shoot. (Yes, this one is that important, that's why I've repeated it several times, but not as many times as he did.)

Then we loaded the clips. I'm typing with one less finger today because the tip of my index finger is sore from loading those clips. It takes a lot of force to load a clip, especially the last bullet because the spring is fully compressed. Uncle showed me the technique, but I'll have to work on it before I get comfortable with it.

Uncle showed me his preferred stance while telling me that other people would give me other advice, and to find what works best for me. He showed me a basic, two handed grip, squeezed off a couple of rounds, then set the gun on the table.

It was my turn.

Keep in mind that while we're going through all of this, there are 8 other people shooting almost continuously. I'm flinching with nearly every shot, particularly when a guy 2 or 3 lanes over shoots. I didn't know what it was he was firing (Uncle later said it was a .44 Mag if I remember right, but not only could you hear it, you could feel the concussion of each shot. I stepped up to the line and assumed a comfortable stance with my left foot in front, my right about 18 inches back and turned to the side (what we called "sugarfoot" in wrestling). I picked up the gun with a two handed grip, and carefully sighted along the barrel to the target 7 yards away.

7 yards doesn't sound like much, and it isn't, but it was plenty for a first time out. My hands were shaking with adrenaline, and I took a deep breath to settle down, and began to squeeze the trigger. Uncle told me that the pull was around 5 pounds, which sounds light but is a lot stiffer than I'd expected. I slowly increased pressure and the trigger moved back until it hit a slight resistance.

Then the gun went off.

That's how it felt, anyway. I wasn't concious of the trigger moving any further, or increasing pressure to break past the resistance. I hit the resistance, there was a heartbeat, then the gun roared. The recoil wasn't as bad as I'd anticipated, but it was still a little overwhelming to feel the gun move with that much power. It didn't tear my hand off, but I knew right away that controlling the recoil would be a challenge, particularly since Uncle warned me against it. He said a common problem among first timers is a tendancy to anticipate the recoil, pulling their shots down.

Oh, yeah, I did hit the target.

I finished the clip, and afterward, Uncle told me that I'd drawn quite the crowd as people stopped to watch the newbie shoot. The last 5 or 6 rounds, I began to get a little control, and achieved a decent grouping. Oddly, shortly after I fired the first couple of shots, I was concentrating so hard, I didn't really hear the other folks shooting anymore. Except for the guy with the cannon.

After the Glock, we went to a SIG 9mm, which had a few different features, like a decocking lever. Still the basic setup was the same, and the 9mm clips were much easier to load. The biggest difference on the SIG was that the first shot was a double action shot, which really jacked up the trigger pull. (If I understand it right, single action means the trigger releases the hammer; it has to be pulled back (cocked) another way. Double action means the trigger cocks and releases the hammer. The Glock we fired earlier had what they call safe action. The hammer is cocked when you work the slide to chamber a round.) After the first shot, the hammer is cocked by the action of the slide and the trigger pull is single action at around 4 pounds. I really didn't like the difference between pulls, but once I adjusted to it, I did OK with the SIG.

We went through 2 boxes of ammo, with Uncle letting me do the lion's share of shooting. Before we left the range, we had to clean up all the casings by sweeping them past the line, where the store would collect them for reloading later. After leaving the range, we went to the washroom to wash our hands to get rid of the lead residue, important if you don't want to wind up like the Roman Emperors.

Range time, ammo, targets and orientation came up to just over $50, which may or may not be expensive; I have no basis for comparison, but seemed reasonable to me.

Holding and shooting the gun felt differently than I expected. I searched myself for feelings of power, or invulnerability, and was happy to find instead feelings of responsibility. The gun in my hand didn't make me feel strong or invincible, but cautious and careful. Every second that it was in my hands I was aware that I held a powerful tool. A gun is a tool like fire is a tool, and just like fire, it can turn on you. Properly controlled, both serve vital purposes, but if you fail to control either, they can destroy everything.

Anyway, I plan on doing some more research, and trying several more guns before making my first purchase. Of the two I've shot so far, I think I liked the Glock a little bit better.

Posted by Rich
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A Costly Mistake for Green Bay

The Packers had the ball, the lead, and the momentum. Up by 3 with under three minutes left, all they needed was one yard to ice the game. 4th and 1 at the Eagle 41 yard line. Ahman Green had been running at will, and the Packer line was dominating the Eagle defense. The shortest run of the drive was a 2 yarder by Green; even Favre ripped off a 3 yard scramble.

This is a playoff game; win or go home. You only have a 3 point lead, against a quality quarterback who has the ability to create plays from nothing.

So, what do you do?

YOU GO FOR IT!

Every time! You don't give the other team the chance to strike. If you go for it and miss, you give up 20 yards, but if you make it, the game is over.

By punting, Sherman sent a message to his team, and to the Eagles; he wasn't playing to win. He was playing not to lose.

Ed Donatell picked up on the message and called a soft, prevent defense 4 plays later when the Eagles had the ball on 4th and 26, resulting in a 28 yard completion that lead directly to the tying field goal.

But the heroics by McNabb and company were an afterthought. The game had already been decided at 2:30 to go in the 4th. In championship play, situations arise where your resolve is tested, where your confidence in your team is taken to the limit. It is at those times that champions rise to the occasion and do more than they believed they could.

Sherman took the opportunity from them, and Green Bay lost.

Posted by Rich
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Saturday, January 10, 2004

Bigotry?  From a Liberal?  Say It Ain’t So!

From Fox News:
Steven Ybarra, a Democratic National Committee official and regional coordinator of Latinos for Dean, called Rosario Marin, the former U.S. treasurer under President Bush who is now seeking the GOP nomination to compete against California Sen. Barbara Boxer, a "house Mexican for the Republicans."


Not only is he a bigot, he's stupid as well. She's running for the Senate, not the House.

Jokes aside, his explanation actually makes things worse.
In a statement to Los Angeles' Univision, Ybarra said that Marin should be "proud of being called a house Mexican" in the same way as he is "proud to be the house Mexican for the Democratic Party."

He added that his remarks were not meant to make reference to African-American slaves, but to suggest that Marin is a Hispanic "owned and operated" by a company or group.


No, not a "slave," just "owned." See, if you don't actually say the word, you can't be accused of meaning it, even if you say something just like it. It is interesting that he is apparently proud to be "owned and operated" by the Democratic Party. Most folks I know wouldn't admit being a drone so readily.

Posted by Rich
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You want it?  You got it!

Apparently, SKBubba is unhappy with me.

He thinks the post below inaccurately reflects his actual beliefs. Of course, he's a bit blunter about it.

He accuses me of lying and making stuff up. Normally, I'd either ignore it, or take it back channel and deal with it through e-mail. But Bubba doesn't play like that, and this isn't the first time he's publicly called me a liar.

Here's my response, posted as openly as he posted his accusations.

Bubba, you're a fraud.

I can't count the number of times you've lied about me or something I've said, most recently when you implied that my decision to get a gun was somehow related to something you said. That was complete bulls**t, and you know it, but you wrote it anyway, and I let you get away with it because I know your M.O. You distort and misrepresent in order to raise a ruckus, get a reaction, and make a point.

And you're good at it.

I don't do it because it's not my style.

But now you blow a gasket because you take something I wrote personally.

Too bad.

Tell you what; take a look at the post in question, and tell me where it says:

This post is solely aimed at SKBubba, and no other target should be assumed or inferred. Bubba is my only subject, the only person worthy of my attention. Any thought that maybe, just maybe, this post was left untargetted to broaden the impact to a group of people rather than one single individual is simply wrong. Any intimation that the post was perhaps an ironic continuation of an earlier theme or a continuation of an ongoing discussion on several other RTB blogs is a ridiculously transparent attempt to deny the obvious. This post, indeed, this site is dedicated to one goal; the personal destruction of Mr. SKBubba, and all posts are efforts to that end.

Get over yourself; you're not that important. The post was aimed at the attitude on open display in both your blog, and the comment section.

And don't try and play the wronged innocent. It won't wash.

Here's a couple post titles from your page:

"Shut up! Shut up! Move that guy to a Free Speech Zone!"

"Free speech for me but not for thee..."

The first, an ironic commentary revealing your feelings about Free Speech Zones, the second, a more direct indictment.

Even more telling, this exchange earlier in this very thread:

From Brian:
"BTW, anyone who doesn't recognise "free speech zones" as "censorship" needs to spend some time with a dictionary. If you cannot approach the President for the redress of your grievances, your rights are being violated."

Your reply:
"Bryan, I agree."

So don't try to say you aren't complaining about censorship just because you haven't used the word.

I didn't lie; I didn't "make s**t up," and frankly, I don't give a damn where you blog from.

And yes, this time the blast above was directed specifically and entirely at you.

Have a nice day.


Posted by Rich
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Censorship American Style

Only in America could somebody drive to a presidential event, assemble in a large group, call the president a liar, fool, criminal, and murderer, chat politely with the police security present at the event, hop back into their SUV, drive home, sit down in their living room, log onto the global information network, tell everyone what you just did, including pictures, names, etc, then turn around and complain about being censored.

I think a reality check may be in order.

Posted by Rich
Commentary • (4) Comments • (2) TrackbacksPermalink


Friday, January 09, 2004

Warning

SayUncle passed around a warning awhile back about a way to almost transparently spoof links to websites.

Lo and behold, in my e-mail yesterday, I got a request from my bank to "verify" my account by clicking a link in the e-mail.

Did I click the link?

Are you kidding me? Heck no!

I called my bank to let them know what was going on and they told me they were already aware of it, had traced the e-mail and were taking action.

So, the moral of the story is you can't trust links embedded in e-mail. Use your fingers and type them in yourself, then bookmark the legit site, and you're safe from counterfeits.

Posted by Rich
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To the Moon!

Technological development doesn't just happen; it has to be driven by some goal. Wouldn't it be nice if the goal was finding new and better ways to go to space rather than finding new and better ways of killing each other?

Just a thought.

Posted by Rich
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Blogging and Protesting

Remember the big chickenhawk flap going around the lefty world a few months back? How they derided anybody who said that he was supporting the war effort through his blogging?

Then they'd put on their costumes, grab the Bush=Hitler signs and head out to protest against the war.

What's the difference?

In both cases, we're spouting personal opinions in a public forum. If the one is useless self delusion, isn't the other as well?

Posted by Rich
Politics • (0) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink


Free Speech Zones

Are they censorship?

Well, let's see. SK Bubba has a series of posts dealing with the visit and the accompanying protests. Start here and scroll up.

As I read it, I see that the protests were held in a public place, covered by the media, and reported in both print and TV. The protesters were allowed to say what they wanted, wear what they wanted, hold the signs they wanted, for as long as they wanted. Pictures of the protest appeared on TV and in the paper, as well as SKb's website.

To date, no organizers or participants in the protest have been arrested, harrassed, intimidated, disappeared, shot, tortured, or fed into industrial paper shredders. In fact, Bubba complimented the police on their courtesy and professionalism. The only restriction placed on the protestors was location.

Some claim that this restriction does amount to censorship because it denies them TV coverage. As the report from Bubba points out, this is not a real issue as there were plenty of reporters in the zone.

This is censorship?

I don't think so.

The only thing denied to the protestors was the ability to shove their message in the President's face. Ironically, these zones parallel the zones established around abortion clinics, keeping protestors away from their clints and workers. The principle is the same: you have the right to express your opinions. You do not have the right to harrass others with those opinions. If keeping protestors away from abortion clinics is constitutional, then so is keeping them away from presidential speeches.

Still, censorship or not, I don't like it. It's too close to the line for comfort.

(On a side note, I wonder how welcome I would have been at the Clark rally had I been carrying a sign saying "I won't start WWIII for you." Maybe I'll try that experiment next time he comes to town.)

Posted by Rich
Politics • (2) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink


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