September 30, 2005


Pope Benedict XVI made it clear he was going to undertake some serious house-cleaning. A pontifical commission is examining all of America's seminaries for fidelity to both Church doctrine and clerical vows of chastity and obedience. I expect similar scrutiny will be paid to Catholic institutions of higher learning, many of which are Catholic in name only. One of the first indications the Left is feeling the heat are the predictable cries that Benedict is on a gay-bashing witch hunt with the expected reaffirmation of the ban on homosexuals in the priesthood, which has not been rigorously enforced in the past.

Posted by LMC at 02:28 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Great Moments in the History of American Public Administration

Boy, the new commissioner of the NOPD is inspiring confidence that he's going to clean up the crapulent department that let things get so out of control during the flood:

``The investigation does in fact show police officers with some items,'' acting Police Superintendent Warren Riley said Thursday. He said four of the 12 officers have already been suspended for failing to stop looting.

``It was not clear that they in fact looted,'' Riley said of the four. ``What is clear is that some action needed to be taken and it was not.''

Riley drew a distinction between taking useful items such as food and jeans, which he contended didn't amount to looting in a crisis, and taking luxuries such as jewelry. He suggested that arresting looters was difficult amid the chaos following the storm.

``Minor offenders, it was determined, we could not in fact arrest them,'' he said.

Incidents in which officers took Cadillacs from a dealer's lot were not looting because the officers patrolled in the cars, said Riley, who was appointed to the job this week after his predecessor resigned. However, Riley said authorities were looking into whether the officers had driven the cars illegally.

``There were some officers who did use Cadillacs,'' Riley said. ``Those cars were not stolen.''

Hey, because it's logical in a city whose poorest parts are underwater, where there is rampant looting and anarchy, for the Police to go and "borrow" some Levis and Caddies, what with their government paid for trip to Vegas coming and all.....

Posted by Steve at 11:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ummmm, no

I think the appropriate phrase is something on the order of "screw you and the vespa you rode in on, Pierre."

The European Union insisted Friday that governments and the private sector must share the responsibility of overseeing the Internet, setting the stage for a showdown with the United States on the future of Internet governance.

A senior U.S. official reiterated Thursday that the country wants to remain the Internet's ultimate authority, rejecting calls in a United Nations meeting in Geneva for a U.N. body to take over.

EU spokesman Martin Selmayr said a new cooperation model was important "because the Internet is a global resource."

"The EU ... is very firm on this position," he added.

The Geneva talks were the last preparatory meeting before November's World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia.

A stalemate over who should serve as the principal traffic cops for Internet routing and addressing could derail the summit, which aims to ensure a fair sharing of the Internet for the benefit of the whole world.

At issue is who would have ultimate authority over the Internet's master directories, which tell Web browsers and e-mail programs how to direct traffic.

That role has historically gone to the United States, which created the Internet as a Pentagon project and funded much of its early development. The U.S. Commerce Department has delegated much of that responsibility to a U.S.-based private organization with international board members, but Commerce ultimately retains veto power.

Some countries have been frustrated that the United States and European countries that got on the Internet first gobbled up most of the available addresses required for computers to connect, leaving developing nations with a limited supply to share.

They also want greater assurance that as they come to rely on the Internet more for governmental and other services, their plans won't get derailed by some future U.S. policy.

Policy decisions could at a stroke make all Web sites ending in a specific suffix essentially unreachable.

Maybe it's just me, but the word that makes the whole story work is "gobbled." You see, the prisintine internet was out there, all fresh and unspoiled, populated by peaceful environmentally friendly and non-hostile bands of cyber-indigenous tribes (who naturally cared for their old folks and didn't practice slavery or exploit their women), until a desparate band of Americano cyber-Conquistadors arrived, planted their symbols of religious intoleration, spread disease and non-habitat correct predatory animals and claimed this so-called "new world" for the kindgom of Porn, Spam, and shudder non-governmentally controlled non-heirarchical news sources. A true Eden was destroyed, only to be replaced by the loathsome blogosphere, where barbarians in robes with three day stubble dare to write impolite things about their global bureaucratic elites.

Mon dieu! How dare those dirty Amerikkkans control something they developed and pioneered!

Posted by Steve at 11:29 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

US Forces Assemble in the Green Zone to stop violence

Oyvez, it's going to be a long weekend.

(HT to Royal Rooter Irish Elk).

Posted by Steve at 09:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tolkien Geek Update

I've got to go out in a few minutes and ruin my neighbor's weekend by getting my lawn cut first, but I wanted to note that Gary the Tolkien Geek has his latest post up: FOTR, Book 2, Chapter 3 - The Ring Goes South.

Gary has lots of interesting tidbits about Tolkien's earlier jiggerings with the composition of the Company of the Ring and its evolution into its final form. This brings up a question I've long had about the presence of Legolas. Those of you familiar with the books will remember that he is the son of Thranduil, the King of the Elves of Northern Mirkwood, originally sent by his father as a messenger to Elrond in Rivendell to bring the news of the escape of Gollum. Why Tolkien chose him to accompany the Ring south instead of one of the Elves of Rivendell like, say, Glorfindel, has always puzzled me a bit, particularly since a) the Elves of Mirkwood are not related to the Elves of Rivendell and really are not directly tied up in the Ring business, and b) I would have thought it would make more sense to send Legolas back to Mirkwood to inform his father of the overall strategic situation, especially since his father is about to be attacked by Sauron's forces.

Gary also talks about the snowstorm in the Redhorn Gate on the flank of Carhadras. There is a fascinating (well to me, anyway) little question about exactly who or what is responsible for this meteorological attack on the Company. In the book, an exchange between Gimli and Gandalf just before it begins suggests that Sauron sends the snowstorm, perhaps with the intent of stopping the Company. However, after it is over, it is suggested that "cruel" Carhadras was responsible itself, and for its own malevolent reasons. Indeed, one could almost make an argument that the Balrog living under it had something to do with the attack (although I don't recall Balrogs having such powers elsewhere in Tolkien's writings). Peter Jackson, as part of his effort to bolster the character's role, assigns responsibility directly to Saruman.

Posted by Robert at 09:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What, Screech isn't going to be in it?

You stay away from the blogosphere for a couple of days and you miss all the big stories: Sarah Michelle Gellar is getting ready to play porn star "Krysta Now" in a movie called "Southland," replete with all-"star" cast (which you can say with little quoties around the word "star" about any movie featuring Cheri Oteri, Janeane Garafolo, and The Rock).

No word on whether this will do for her career what "Rollergirl" did for Heather Graham's career.

Personally, I was hoping Gellar would save herself for the role of Wonkette in the Washingtonienne porn biopic, which would open up the role of INDC Bill to be played by Dustin Diamond.

Posted by Steve at 09:35 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

I realize I'm failing Kurt Russell when I say this but

this just brought me to tears.

UPDATE: (cue best Jim Brown voice impersonation) YEAH!

Posted by Steve at 09:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 29, 2005

Three's Company too

I'm going to leave it in the expert hands of Drs. Stotch and Shackleford as to whether this falls in the "good" or "bad" category.

Tip of the, errr, ummm, something to Mallkin.

Posted by Steve at 10:24 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Out, ye pesky boil

I said it back in April: Tom Delay is the Republican Jim Wright, not just a skeezy weasel, but a sign of institutional rot at the heart of the congressional party.

Dr. Stoch administers a bare-cheeked butt whipping to the Washington Times on this matter. Who do they think they are fooling?

How many states ratified the the call for a Constitutional Convention to consider a Balanced Budget Amendment? It was in the high 20s, if memory serves. Are those votes still valid---could a couple of state legislatures sick to death of the fiscal insanity ratify the thing? Could this be a 27th Amendment issue, where you have a provision out there, just waiting to be revived? Sure a Constitutional Convention would be a zoo of epic proportions, but perhaps enough of one to scare straight both sides of the aisle in Congress. Are there any constitutional law experts out there?

Umm, I mean other than ones who are about to sit down and watch CSI?

Posted by Steve at 09:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


You are a

Social Moderate
(41% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(91% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Posted by LMC at 08:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

That's Steve the LLamabutcher, somewhere north east of Donald Trump and southwest of the Unabomber

llama ideology porn.jpg

You are a

Social Liberal
(78% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(75% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Posted by Steve at 08:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Jordana has an ode to her first date with The One.

Posted by Steve at 08:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

That Will Do, Jeeves

From Stefan Beck at the New Criterion comes this forehead-slapping item about the fate of the the icon pirated from P.G. Wodehouse:

Citing "user confusion" over what the butler character represents the search site has said that Jeeves will soon be phased out.

There is no firm date for when the character will disappear from the Ask site, but it will soon stop being the brand's most prominent icon.

No decision has been made about a new name for the Ask search site.

I'm of two minds about this. The use of Jeeves to begin with (and by the way, he's not a butler, goddamit, he's a "Gentleman's Personal Gentleman") has always rankled with me. On the other hand, this looks like a cut-and-run strategy in the face of pure cultural Philistinism, so I'm not altogether sure it's such a good thing. I'd have been far happier if the retirement had come about as a result of simple late-blooming respect for the character and his author.

On the whole, it's probably best just to let Jeeves go quietly and come up with an icon more on the level of the people who apparently are having trouble with him. Might I suggest Paris Hilton, instead? Every time someone enters a search request, a little image of her could pop up and say, "That's hot!"

Posted by Robert at 05:58 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

England Expects A Slice of Cake With Blue Frosting


Tee Bee beat me to wishing a happy birthday to Horatio Nelson. Go on over to her place for some nifty links on the life and times of England's greatest naval hero. Never mind manuevers - always go straight at 'em.

UPDATE: Well, just for some more Nelson treats, here is H.M.S Victory:


She was Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar and is the oldest warship in the world still in commission . Currently, she is in drydock at Portsmouth Harbor.

Meanwhile, here is a model of H.M.S. Agamemnon:


This ship, a 64 gun two-decker, was Nelson's Favourite, perhaps because it was the ship he commanded while he was winning Emma, Lady Hamilton while on duty in the Med in the mid-1790's. She (meaning the ship) eventually sank off the River Plate in South America in 1809. Lady Hamilton foundered somewhat earlier than that.

Military matters and strategic command of the sea aside, I've always found the ships of this period to be works of great beauty, both aesthetic and technological. The Missus and I debate about this all the time, but if I were ever to go on a cruise, I'd much rather sign on as a deck-hand on a sailing ship than go floating about trapped in a giant cross between a Vegas casino and a strip mall. But that's just me. (Dad spent a year at the Coast Guard Academy back in the day and did a tour on the Eagle. I've always been a bit envious of that.)

Posted by Robert at 03:36 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Only a matter of time, I suppose. My apparent pick for Sandy Dee's seat:

U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, appointed by
Reagan, born 1949
A Texan! Nearly nominated to Souter's seat by
G.H.W. Bush. You're hoping the son follows
through! Jones is considered radioactive by
Democrats, which you (and the administration)
might consider a plus!

New World Man presents: My favorite candidate for the Supreme Court
brought to you by Quizilla

Well, if it's on the Internet, it must be true, right?

Yips! to K-Lo posting at Bench Memos.

Posted by Robert at 03:19 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Arrrh! It Be Another Book Meme!

Oh, what the hell. Below the fold is a list of 110 "top banned books" - I don't know who did the banning or why. The deal is to bold the ones you've read, italicize the ones you've read in part (from consuming multiple chapters down to just skimming, I suppose), and ignore the rest. As always, I reserve the right to toss in the occassional comment as I see fit.

(BTW, above-the-fold Yips! to Lemuel.)

Ready? Here goes:

#1 The Bible - Right, like YOU don't suffer a MEGO moment trying to work your way through the Levitican Code. (BTW, KJV rulz!)
#2 Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
#3 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
#4 The Koran
#5 Arabian Nights - Not 1001. More like 3.
#6 Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
#7 Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift - Oh, the fun we had with this one when I read it with the visiting, assistant feminazi professor!
#8 Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer - Took a college course on it. Got an A on my oral pronounciation test.
#9 Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
#10 Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
#11 Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
#12 Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
#13 Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
#14 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
#15 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
#16 Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
#17 Dracula by Bram Stoker
#18 Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
#19 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
#20 Essays by Michel de Montaigne
#21 Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
#22 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon - Still in the middle of it. Who the hell bans this?
#23 Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
#24 Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
#25 Ulysses by James Joyce
#26 Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
#27 Animal Farm by George Orwell
#28 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
#29 Candide by Voltaire
#30 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
#31 Analects by Confucius
#32 Dubliners by James Joyce
#33 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck - His best, IMHO.
#34 Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway - Remind me to tell you how terribly over-rated I think Hemingway, especially later Hemingway, is one of these days.
#35 Red and the Black by Stendhal
#36 Capital by Karl Marx - I once had a professor who, rather neatly, commented that Marx witnessed the birthpangs of industrial capitalism and mistook them for its death-rattle.
#37 Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
#38 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#39 Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence - I, er, saw the movie. Well a movie, anyway.....
#40 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
#41 Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
#42 Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
#43 Jungle by Upton Sinclair
#44 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
#45 Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
#46 Lord of the Flies by William Golding
#47 Diary by Samuel Pepys
#48 Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway - See above, dammit.
#49 Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
#50 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
#51 Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
#52 Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
#53 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
#54 Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
#55 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
#56 Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
#57 Color Purple by Alice Walker
#58 Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
#59 Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
#60 Bluest Eyes by Toni Morrison
#61 Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
#62 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#63 East of Eden by John Steinbeck
#64 Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
#65 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou - Your secret is safe from me, dear.
#66 Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#67 Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais
#68 Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
#69 The Talmud
#70 Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#71 Bridge to Terabinthia by Katherine Paterson
#72 Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
#73 American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
#74 Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
#75 A Separate Peace by John Knowles
#76 Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath - She was a nut.
#77 Red Pony by John Steinbeck - Well, "The Gift" anyway. This is the sort of thing that gets a certain type of high school student very teary-eyed.
#78 Popol Vuh
#79 Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
#80 Satyricon by Petronius
#81 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#82 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
#83 Black Boy by Richard Wright
#84 Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
#85 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
#86 Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
#87 Metaphysics by Aristotle
#88 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder - Is there something we don't know about Pa?
#89 Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
#90 Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse - After having to read Siddhartha, I refused.
#91 Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
#92 Sanctuary by William Faulkner
#93 As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
#94 Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
#95 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
#96 Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
#97 General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
#98 Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
#99 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
#100 Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
#101 Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
#102 Émile by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#103 Nana by Émile Zola - No, but I saw a stage adaptation of it one time.
#104 Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
#105 Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
#106 Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#107 Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
#108 Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
#109 Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
#110 Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Posted by Robert at 02:06 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack


Spaghetti Monster.jpg

Tainted Bill has a round-up of all of your Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster needs.

Perhaps it's because I'm largely, er, agnostic over the whole ID debate, but I find all of this to be immensely funny. And yes, while I consider myself to be pretty religious, I pray to God I don't ever get so spiritual that I stop seeing the humor in this sort of thing. Ain't no Commandment against jerking chains.

Posted by Robert at 01:35 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Tolkien Geek Update

In my absence, Gary Il Geekisto di Tolkien posted on two of the most important chapters in the entire LOTR cycle, chapters that separate the True Geeks from the Johnny-come-lately Jackson Myrmidons:

FOTR Book II, Chapter 1 - Many Meetings


FOTR Book II, Chapter 2 - The Council of Elrond.

These are the Why We Fight chapters, the ones that fit all the players and plots of the current story firmly into the overall history of Middle Earth, bringing both all the characters and the reader completely up to speed, and setting the stage for the final confrontation with Sauron. When I first started reading these books, I hated the Council of Elrond because it was so wordy and devoid of action. Now it is one of my favorites because of all the history and, as Dubya might say, strategerizing that take place.

I won't get into the Jacksonization of these scenes except to note a) that most of the Saruman plotline is lifted out of these chapters (all of the action taking place offstage in the books) and b) that one of the very first blogposts I ever wrote was on the theme of sacrificing the complexity of things at Rivendell for other plot devices of, er, more basic appeal. Let's hop in the Way-Back Machine and have another look.

Gary brings up the third-rail issue of the relationship between Sam and Frodo here. I think Gary's point about the awkwardness of Sam holding Frodo's hand coming about as a result of their class distinction is perfectly valid, and is something lost on modern audiences. However, to the extent that Tolkien might have been driving at something else - and after having mulled on it myself, I still don't know what the answer might be - a much stronger argument can be made later on based on what happens in Ithilien and Cirith Gorgor. But that's a discussion for another time.

Oh, by the way, speaking of relationships, Gary also notes the fact that it was Elrond's brother Elros who chose to become mortal and thereby founded the line of the Numenorean Kings. Since Aragorn is his direct descendant, this makes Elrond Aragorn's distant uncle and Arwen his cousin. Cue banjo music.

Posted by Robert at 12:13 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Hold on to your hats

The last week of the AL Pennant Race is a rocking....

In a nice touch, the Red Sox had star center fielder Johnny Damon throw out the first pitch:

johnny damon throws out first pitch.jpeg

YIPS! from Robbo: As the Irish Elk pointed out a few days ago, the Fates have a very nice sense of the dramatic. And here I was thinking I could avoid this kind of nail-biting, stomach-churning, sleep-depriving tension until the playoffs at least.

Posted by Steve at 09:53 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

LLeft Coast LLama Update

Call me a traitor to the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy if you will, but I'm just going to come out and say this right away: I really like San Francisco. Overall, it's really much grubbier than I had imagined. But it's got all the eclectic energy of, say, certain Manhattan neighborhoods, but without the "What are you lookin' at?" edge underneath.

First afternoon there, I decided to do a walkabout. My hotel was just off to the southwest of the Financial District. As I came out the front, I looked up to the top of Mason Street and decided, "I want to see what's up there." So I started walking. Or hiking, to be more exact. I dunno how many hundreds of feet the street climbs in the course of six or seven blocks, but it's a lot. The sidewalks on the upper slopes are all cross-hatched for better traction. It happened to be clear and sunny while I was there - I wouldn't like to think what it would be like tackling that trail in the rain or ice.

Anyhoo, after a trudge, I found myself atop Nob Hill and next door to the Intercontinental Hotel. (The Top of the Mark bar at the top is supposed to be a coo-el place to take in the view.) From there, Mason Street runs downhill all the way to Fisherman's Wharf, passing between Russian Hill and Chinatown. Sighting the bay, my next thought was, "I want to see what's down there." So off I went. There's supposed to be a Trolly-Car Museum somewhere on that part of Mason Street, but I was so busy concentrating on not tumbling down the slope that I missed it. However, about halfway down, I did notice the sudden great view of Alcatraz - all the more reason to keep going. (By the way, no, I did not ride a trolly. But I almost got hit by one as I was jaywalking.)

Anyhoo, I finally made it down to Fisherman's Wharf. I must say that this was the most disappointing part of the trip. The food may be great there, but the streets all smell of pee and the waterfront is loaded down with cheesy tourist trap novelties like Ripley's Believe-It-Or-Not Odditorium and a Wax Museum. Thanks, but no thanks. Oh, and the place was jammed with, well, cheesy tourists, most of whom, for some odd reason, seemed to be Germans.

Hanging a left, I went out past The Cannery, Ghiradelli Square and the Maritime Museum and headed up the bluff to Fort Mason. I dunno the historical significance of the place, but there is a spot on the path going up the slope where you can sit and see Alcatraz to your right front and the entire Golden Gate Bridge off to your left and a serious part of the Bay all around - I could have sat there for hours watching the way the clouds worked off the mountains on the far side and kept covering the northern tower of the bridge.

After a bit, I decided to head back the other way. Coming back up Mason Street, I took a detour left and hiked up Telegraph Hill to the Coit Tower. I didn't climb the tower itself (I was getting tired), but the view from the hill is still pretty good. For the final push, I reclimbed Nob Hill from the north side and got back to the hotel feeling that I had earned some seriously large amounts of food and drink.

I'll say here that I was immediately taken by the geography of the place. In Northern Virginia, we live in the shadow of the Blue Ridge which, I've read somewhere, is one of the oldest mountain ranges on Earth. It is geologically ancient. It's quiet. It's hilly, but the hills are just gradually wearing down. Not so the West Coast - the land out there is still sorting itself out. Everything has a young, energetic, chaotic look to it, as if it's going to let fly at any second. And no offense to the folks out there, but if you people continue to insist on building your houses on cliff-faces and hillsides, well, don't come crying to me when they get shaken right off.

Anyhoo, the next day I had to go over to the Federal Building. Looking at the map, I saw that it was only five blocks over and three down from my hotel, and felt it would be silly to waste money on a cab. So off I went. Well, file that one under "Jackass stunts I won't do again." My path took me through what someone told me was called the Tenderloin District. It was full to overflowing with wine-o's, potheads and other derelict riff-raff. And here I was, marching down the street in a blue business suit with a green silk tie. "Okay," I said to myself, "Just keep your game face on. Don't make eye contact. Look like you know what you're doing." Fortunately, nobody gave me any trouble. Later on I reflected that, at 9:30 in the morning, they were probably incapable of giving me any trouble, but as I say, I don't think I want to try that one again.

That evening, after I was done with my business, I went with some friends to a place called La Barca on Lombard Street in the Marina. Having grown up in South Texas, I often argue that there is no such thing as good Tex-Mex food in Dee Cee. This place was much, much closer to what I remember growing up. Much fun was had. Many thanks to Brigid, Rob, Kate and John for taking me along there. (By the way, rather disappointingly, this was the only place where I saw any kind of weirdness that might fall under the Left Coast rubric, and it was only a group of thirty-something women celebrating the birthday of somebody's three year old kid in the bar.)

Not much else to tell about my stay. However, even though it was a hit-and-run visit, I was definitely left with the feeling that I'd very much like to go back and stay longer. That doesn't happen with me very often, so you can imagine how impressed I was with the place. (N.B. - This does NOT mean that I would want to live there.)

Now permit me, if you will, to get in a little rant on the subject of flying. Heading out was pretty uneventful. But the flight back last night was among the most turbulent I have ever been on. And it wasn't just the odd pocket here or there - of the five or so hours in the air, the seatbelt sign was never off for more than half an hour at the most. I had bought a snack, but couldn't eat it. I had bought a drink, but couldn't pour it. I had hoped that forcing myself to watch Adam Sandler in The Longest Yard would act as a sufficient counter-irritant to make me forget the shaking and jolting, but both the audio and video kept cutting out and skipping. I spent the flight clutching my arm-rests so tightly that I got off the plane with forearms like Popeye's and my fingers are still numb this morning. Let me say it plainly: If Llamas were meant to fly, they'd have wings!

Posted by Robert at 09:46 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack


Sarah Chang is on the April schedule for the Virginia Symphony.

YIPS! from Robbo - Let's go to the video tape:



Posted by LMC at 09:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Thoughts

Want to spread a little joy in the morning? Read your new copy of P.J. O'Rourke's Peace Kills on the Metro. Be sure you're standing up so everybody can see the cover. Laugh grimly at the appropriate places. And be sure to smile in polite puzzlement when you get sniffy looks from the aging moonbat sitting in front of you.

BTW, if you haven't read this one yet, it appears that Peej is getting back into his earlier form. In my humble opinion, he had crested with All the Trouble In The World, started to slide a bit with Eat the Rich and, well, tanked with CEO of the Sofa. This book is much more like his pre-Trouble period. And that is good.

Posted by Robert at 08:51 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Ulysses Never Had This Problem

Uh.....what was my Moo-Knew password again?

Damn, what was the password?

Great zarking fardwarks, what's the zarking password?

Posted by Robert at 08:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 28, 2005

This. Means. War.

Yet another reason to open up a can of whuppass on Notre Dame.

We took the whole family down to our local pizza establishment for dinner on July 1st just to see the manager raise the Boston College banner to the rest of the banners of the ACC schools up on the wall.

Posted by Steve at 11:22 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Now let's get rid of the damn crescent thing

Win one for the good guys.

Posted by Steve at 11:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Here's what we had to say about our future Senator way back when

Little did we know we'd be insulting the future junior senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia when we ran with this parody back in December 03:

World's Leading WMD Maker Caught, But Not Before Release of Latest Bomb in American Multiplexes

Celebratory gunfire erupted this evening in Brentwood as Army Special Forces of the 4th I.D. raided a secluded Malibu farm and arrested Ben Affleck, pulling him from a spider-hole behind the Jacuzzi.

Mr. Affleck was a POI in the War on Terrorism, and until his capture was one of the world's most notorious producers of bombs at work today.

"Americans of all stripes can rest easier tonight, knowing that Mr. Affleck will not be able to wreak havoc on innocent children, who accidentally wander into the room and catch part of Changing Lanes," the President declared in a hastily convened press conference at Camp David, his secluded mountain hide out. "The world can rest easier now that the brave men and women of our Armed Forces have insured that we will not be attacked by Gigli II."

Mr. Affleck's arrest is a coup for the Department of Homeland Security, who had raised the nation's terror alert rating to "Orange" premised on a fear that terrorists would strike American malls during the busy holiday period. "We got him," a jubilant Paul Bremer announced this evening, which was greeted by the rabid cheers of the long-oppressed entertainment media, who chanted "death to Sum of All Fears X 2!"

However, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge did not return any calls, on reports that Mr. Affleck's latest bomb went off in multiplexes around the country. Ridge's spokesman noted that the government was going to clamp down on charities and third party businesses that facilitated the distribution of these bombs. Nobody from Miramax or Regal Cinemas would comment for this article.

At Turtle Bay, reaction was muted. "It is good that the world will not be visited by Reindeer Games II," noted a subdued Secretary General Kofi Anan. "But is there not a better way to facilitate the intermediration of such actions?" Calls for a United Nations organization to take over the American film industry were voiced by some with a distinct Belgian accent. French President Jacques Chirac was more upbeat: "I spit on you, Ameerican peeg-dog. Do you see us arresting Gerard Depardieu? It is better to appease them through subsidies." Former President Jimmy Carter, spending the holidays trying to bring peace to warring clans of Antarctic penguins, noted that he had spent time with Mr. Affleck and thought him to be a kind, artistic soul, and "J-Lo has one sweeeet ass!"

Army officials had no comment of whether Mr. Affleck's statements earlier in the week, that he would rather state his allegiance to Satan than root for the Yankees had any role in the efforts to capture the elusive fugitive. Calls to Mr. Satan's office went unreturned; however, this reporter did receive an anonymous late night voice message: "You only get to sell your soul once, Benny."

Democratic front-runner Howard Dean was defiant at the news: "This is a f---ing sham that hasn't made America one f---ing ounce safer! We should be working to aid guys like this, bring him and Matt Damon back into the community of nations."

Retired General Wesley Clark was equally strident: "This would have not happened if I were President: I would not have wavered from our pursuit of Cuba Gooding, Jr. Until Mr. Gooding is caught, Americans will continue to be attacked by such 'uplifting' crap like Radio, and what the heck was the name of that sled dog movie we saw on the plane?"

Posted by Steve at 11:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ben Affleck for Senate? And here I thought "Gigli" would be the biggest bomb of his career...

affleck for senate.jpg

Here are our suggested campaign slogans:

Affleck for Senate: He'll put the "I" in Virginia

Affleck for Senate: He's not as callow, shallow, and stupid as he came across in Survining Christmas

Affleck for Senate: He'll do for Virginia what he did for the Daredevil Franchise

Affleck for Senate: Sure, maybe he'll visit his serfs, like, the week before the election

Affleck for Senate: Isn't it about time we had a Senator born in Berkeley California whose middle name is "Geza"?

Affleck for Senate: Will you quit laughing and listen to me? See, he's got a chance to win if the entire state south of the Toll Road forgets to vote

Affleck for Senate: Isn't it about time people stopped bugging John Warner about Liz Taylor?

Posted by Steve at 10:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Please God, I've been so damn good......

I firmly believe in karma---and I must have been Mohatma Freakin' Ghandi in my previous life to deserve this:

If you liked him as Bennifer . . . you'll love him as Benator!

That's the hot new idea being tossed around by Virginia Democrats, who are desperately searching for a big name to challenge the reelection bid of rising GOP star Sen. George Allen next year, now that outgoing Gov. Mark Warner has ducked out.

Why, who should happen to be pondering a move to Thomas Jefferson country but a certain square-jawed media magnet with a taste for liberal politics and millions to spend on it . . . Ben Affleck ! Star of "Gigli" and the J.Lo tab romance, now happily settled with "Alias" star Jennifer Garner .

The couple, expecting their first child, have been shopping for real estate around Charlottesville. British tabloids claim it's a done deal; we will only go so far as to report that they checked out at least one country estate a few weeks ago.

You know, I was wondering what exactly that stretch was doing idling in front of Joe & Rita's split level that they put up on the market last week.

Seriously, if this happens it will be definitive proof of intelligent design in the universe----tossing Senator Gigli into the LLama's backyard.

You got a mighty purty mouth...

Posted by Steve at 10:34 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


We are now a month removed from the debacle that was Hurricane Katrina. I remember being struck by the suggestion of many well-paid talking heads that the President should ignore the law (or bend the rules, or some such other nonsense), invoke the Insurrection Act and declare martial law in New Orleans. The facts on the ground did not support invocation of the Act then and even less now we know that much of the news reports of the time turned out to be rumor and hype. All the more reason to reflect the exercise of presidential power to deal with a national crisis.

Tonight's reading is Youngstown Sheet & Tube v. Sawyer, better known as The Steel Seizure Case, reprinted in full here. President Truman was confronted with an imminent nationwide steel strike at the height of the Korean War. Hours before the strike deadline he seized all of the steel mills by executive order without any enabling legislation from Congress, relying solely on the fact he was Commander in Chief. An Ohio steel mill challenged the seizure and the case wound up in very short order in the Supreme Court.

Justice Robert H. Jackson's concurring opinion cogently set out the analysis for determining if the use of executive power in any particular instance is lawful:

1. When the President acts pursuant to an express or implied authorization of Congress, his authority is at its maximum, for it includes all that he possesses in his own right plus all that Congress can delegate. In these circumstances, and in these only, may he be said to personify the federal sovereignty. If his act is held unconstitutional under these circumstances, it usually means that the Federal Government as an undivided whole lacks power. A seizure executed by the President pursuant to an Act of Congress would be supported by the strongest of presumptions and the widest latitude of judicial interpretation, and the burden of persuasion would rest heavily upon any who might attack it.

2. When the President acts in absence of either a congressional grant or denial of authority, he can only rely upon his own independent powers, but there is a zone of twilight in which he and Congress may have concurrent authority, or in which its distribution is uncertain. Therefore, congressional inertia, indifference or quiescence may sometimes, at least as a practical matter, enable, if not invite, measures on independent presidential responsibility. In this area, any actual test of power is likely to depend on the imperatives of events and contemporary imponderables rather than on abstract theories of law.

3. When the President takes measures incompatible with the expressed or implied will of Congress, his power is at its lowest ebb, for then he can rely only upon his own constitutional powers minus any constitutional powers of Congress over the matter. Courts can sustain exclusive Presidential control in such a case only be disabling the Congress from acting upon the subject. Presidential claim to a power at once so conclusive and preclusive must be scrutinized with caution, for what is at stake is the equilibrium established by our constitutional system.

Into which of these classifications does this executive seizure of the steel industry fit? It is eliminated from the first by admission, for it is conceded that no congressional authorization exists for this seizure. That takes away also the support of the many precedents and declarations which were made in relation, and must be confined, to this category.

Can it then be defended under flexible tests available to the second category? It seems clearly eliminated from that class because Congress has not left seizure of private property an open field but has covered it by three statutory policies inconsistent with this seizure. In choosing a different and inconsistent way of his own, the President cannot claim that it is necessitated or invited by failure of Congress to legislate.

This leaves the current seizure to be justified only by the severe tests under the third grouping, where it can be supported only by any remainder of executive power after subtraction of such powers as Congress may have over the subject. In short, we can sustain the President only by holding that seizure of such strike-bound industries is within his domain and beyond control by Congress. . .

The Court struck down the executive order as lacking any basis in law, the strike went on, and was eventually settled between labor and management.

The lessons the case has for us on the exercise of executive power last to this day. Use of the Insurrection Act to declare martial law to be administered by federal troops would have been just as illigitimite as Truman's seizure of the steel mills--it would have been a fig leaf to cover the naked use of executive power without law. (John Roberts made reference to The Steel Seizure Case in his confirmation hearings in response to an idiotic question about the president being "above the law" although I would be surprised if any of the senators picked up on the reference.)

Posted by LMC at 09:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Where's Robbo Day #3

Well looks like Robbo is still mia.

Here's something else to pass the time while you're waiting for his triumphant return.

Posted by phin at 12:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 27, 2005


In a first for this award-winning series, an update on a previously featured Eighties Babe-Julia Ormond is in an upcoming miniseries with Rob Lowe: Beach Girls. Seems to be aging gracefully, I am happy to report.

Posted by LMC at 09:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


C-SPAN is running a replay of former FEMA Director Mike Brown's testimony before a congressional committee today, notable in that Brown is not taking criticism meekly and is instead shooting back with a detailed account of the indecision and ineptitude of New Orleans Mayor Nagen and Governor Kathleen Blanco. (Particularly galling is that his questioners includes Congressman William Jefferson, D-LA, who finagled the use of National Guard assets early in the recovery to make a trip to his house for him to haul off some of his own stuff. The first truck got stuck, a second one was called in, and a helicopter wound up getting involved. Great use of government resources in a crisis.)

Posted by LMC at 09:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Robbo, It's Time to Have a Chat With Your Banker

Admiral Nelson's undershirt is going on the block.

Why would someone (other than Robbo, that is) want Lord Nelson's undershirt? Well...quoth the Sotheby's dude: "Anyone who beats the French usually goes down well{...}"

Which would serve as a useful lesson for any nippers out there who are bent on world domination: beat the French at some battle and you, too, could have Sothebys selling off your underwear two hundred years from now.

{Hat Tip: The Maximum Leader}

Posted by Kathy at 03:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CNN Survivor: New Orleans, Part Deux

Due to certain llamas who consider me to be untrustworthy (I can't imagine why they'd think that!) I can't add YIPS FROM KATHY to this post by Steve-o, I find myself forced to start a new post wherein I refer you to Jeff Goldstein, who goes in-depth on the topic of media blowhards and Katrina coverage:

{...}In short, the narrative that the media decided upon shortly after the hurricane hit and the levees breached—that Katrina was a disaster of epic proportions that was made worse by an uncaring and slow-acting federal government—was going to be their truth. And so anything that fit that either fit that truth or could be spun to support it was going to be celebrated; and anything that contradicted that truth would be minimized or ignored. Hyperbole was justified insofar as it drove home how dire the media insisted the situation was; sensationalism and a lax attitude toward checking facts in advance of “reporting” them were justified insofar as they jibed with the larger “truths” the media had decided up. Fake but accurate. A young Dan Rather indeed…

And now, weeks later, the post mortem is revealing cracks in those initial truths: the levees didn’t crumble as a result of federal budget cuts; the Red Cross and Salvation Army were ready with relief supplies even as Shepard Smith screamed about federal negligence; the USS Bataan was flying rescue missions immediately after Katrina hit, not waiting for word from a guitar-strumming President; plenty of Guard troops were available and waiting for the Governor to request assistance, the Iraq War having virtually no bearing whatever on their ability to provide help in Katrina’s aftermath.


And so is it really a surprise that the journalists who we celebrate today are those whose reporting tells a “big picture story” and reaches for “truth” and “justice” and “lessons”—with the best being those who are able to do so on the fly so that, in effect, they are inventing the story, corroborating it, and ossifying it even as they tell it?

Hardly. And Shepard Smith did just that. Thanks to his reporting, we believed the absolute worst about the federal response. We believed the city had descended into anarchy—with crime and suffering the rule. Thanks to his reporting, we had no context in which to place the extent of the damage (the area affected being the size of Utah or Great Britain; the destruction of the infrastructure and roadways creating logistical nightmares for rescuers, who overcome incredible obstacles to get into the city, etc.)—and so the whole world was reduced to the microcosm of his camera’s reach and his own description of events. The result, of course, was uninformed outrage, which led, predictably, to the circling of the party wagons, the desire to place blame, etc.—all because today’s media was so intent on telling us a “story” and looking for lessons and larger truths that they crafted a narrative in advance of all those pesky facts that have since come out, and which continue to come out. {...}

It's well worth your time to go and read the entire thing if you haven't already seen it. Follow the links, too.

Posted by Kathy at 11:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CNN's Survivor: New Orleans

Drudge links breathlessly to the brewing backlash against the hyperventilated rumor-mongering on the part of the MSM during the initial aftermath of Katrina.

Now, there are going to be congressional hearings etc. focusing an acidic glare on the actions of the federal, state, and local governments, and this is a good thing: as VDH pointed out in Carnage and Culture, one of the things which distinguish a particular type of democratic culture is the willingess to learn from mistakes, even if that means the odd banishment.

But what I'd like is for the presidents of the news divisions of the various networks to have to come in under oath and answer the following questions:

1. How many gallons of aviation fuel were consumed by news helicopters doing endless voyeuristic overflights of disaster areas? Where did they get the aviation fuel and the helicopters? What is the victim rescue/per gallon ratio of helicopter fuel for the Coast Guard (the number of rescues they can do per gallon of aviation fuel consumed), and therefore how many rescues/emergency missions/food and water deliveries/hospital flights were not able to be done so as to satisfy their desire for ratings? How and why can we let the precious assets of helicopters, trained helicopter pilots, and aviation fuel needed for so many critical missions in the immediate aftermath of this type of natural disaster be used for what became CNN's version of Survivor: New Orleans?

2. How many meals, and how many gallons of water were consumed by reporters, cameramen, personal attendents, valets, etc. by media in the disaster area? How many people were forced to live in substandard emergency shelters so that media types could stay in comparative luxury?

I think FEMA, the administration, Gov.Blanco-cheque, Mayor Nagin, and the police chief of the NO-PD should be put under the white hot glare of public scrutiny and full accountability for their actions---but this same scrutiny needs to be applied to the members of the media themselves.

How many poor African-Americans died because helicopters, pilots, and fuel were diverted to satisfy CNN's lust for ratings?

Posted by Steve at 11:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Where's Robbo Day #2

Here's a virtual Robbo since I know y'all are missing him:

adopt your own virtual pet!

Posted by phin at 11:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 26, 2005


Jen, formerly Jen Speaks, has the latest installment in her wedding plans. I follow her plans with some bemusement because they bear no resemblance to my involvement in planning my own wedding. My five brothers each cautioned me not to hung up in the planning phase because my input, although solicited by my bride's family, was not likely to be taken seriously. I had only two requests: that the organist play the Navy Hymn while seating the mothers and that my father, the late Captain LMC, USN, be remembered in the prayers of the faithful. These were granted and I was a happy camper. Otherwise, the entire show was my in-laws' production from start to finish and they did a bang-up job.

Posted by LMC at 09:46 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


A court martial convicted PFC Lynndie England, USAR, of all but one of the charges against her for her role in Abu Graib. Her attempt to plead to a single count fell apart last spring when the judge found that she believed she was not guilty of the crime to which was to have pleaded guilty. At that point, it became clear to me that she was going to get every one of her rights under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Sentencing will be later this week, followed by a review by the convening authority (the general who convened the court martial) who will not likely alter the punishment imposed. After that, she will be off to the big house, one of the poorest excuses for a soldier ever to wear a uniform. Her military lawyers will probably file an appeal, because it is their duty and the client will want it. An Army appeals court will give it due consideration, and, barring some procedural error, likely vote to affirm. Another level of appellate review will occur at the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and then all of England's rights will have been observed. By that point, no one will care, but justice will have been done and observed, even for a wretch like her.

Posted by LMC at 05:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Where's Robbo

Here's something to keep you occupied as Robbo frolics about San Francisco for the next couple days.

ht: Rocket Jones

Posted by phin at 11:11 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Killer Dolphins on the Loose!

And here Robbo was worried about what havoc Ricky Williams would wreak.....

Posted by Steve at 12:19 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 25, 2005

LLeft Coast Llama Update

I'll be in San Francisco for the next couple days, so posting will be fairly non-existent. Many thanks to everyone who wrote in with suggestions about places to go and things to see - my folder of helpful tourista hints is now almost as big as the file on the people I'm supposed to be there to interview.

I'll let you know how it all turns out. Aaaaand, since it's a five hour flight from Dee Cee, expect a Super-Sized Gripe about how much I hate flying.

Yip! at you later.

Posted by Robert at 10:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 24, 2005


Anyone notice that state and local authorities managed to do a far better job of evacuating Houston, a city of 1 million, than New Orleans, a city half its size? It says quite a bit about the effectiveness of such officials, or lack thereof, in both places.

Posted by LMC at 09:58 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Heather Locklear will be on Boston Legal. Apparently, William Shatner will try to shag her, keeping up the "anything in a skirt" tradition begun with the green chick on Star Trek.

Posted by LMC at 09:51 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 23, 2005

Time For A Cup O' Joe


A while back, regular reader Utron recommended that I check out this book, The Devil's Cup by Stewart Lee Allen. The book purports to be a history of the influence of coffee drinking on mankind's development.

I won't review it here since I'm still only about two thirds of the way through. So far, though, it's quite entertaining, being in part a kind of hippie travelog, and in part a layman's history of the ol' java bean. At least as far as raw data about the various types of coffee and coffee preparation throughout history are concerned, I find it quite informative. I'm less inclined to trust some of Allen's hypotheses, however, since he starts out from a number of positions one more or less assumes a writer for Mother Jones would take.

But what I've mostly noticed since starting to read the book is that my own coffee consumption rate has just about doubled. Just reading about it makes me want a cup in the worst way.

And now typing this has got me thinking about it yet again.....

Vade retro, damned Java!

And thanks, Utron, for the serious, serious caffeine buzz I've been carrying around all week!

Posted by Robert at 06:21 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Hurricane History

Some really cool stuff on the history of hurricanes in the Americas going back to 1492, plus this table categorizing hurricane landfalls by state/region, not to mention the cataloging of the deadliest, costliest and most intense hurricanes in the US. Zoinks.

Posted by Steve at 05:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A La Recherche Du Sis Boom Bah Perdu

Prompted by the magic of an early fall day in her neck of the woods, Kathy is waxing nostalgically about that hallmark of the Middle American high school experience, the Friday Night Football Game n' Dance.

Being an utter dork in high school, I myself only experienced this sort of thing from the periphery, of course. But I still kinda, sorta know what she means.

Posted by Robert at 04:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rove/KGB/Japanese Mafia Hurricane Weapon - UPDATE

Scott Stephens, the Idaho tee vee weatherman convinced that the hurricanes hitting the Gulf Coast are meteorological weapons of mass destruction being aimed at us deliberately, is quitting his day job to pursue his investigation full time.

"There's a chess game going on in the sky," Stevens said. "It affects each and every one of us. It is the one common thread that binds us all together."

Although the theories espoused by Stevens - scalar weapons, global dimming - are definitely on the scientific fringe today, there are thousands of Web sites that mention such phenomena.

"The Soviets boasted of their geoengineering capabilities; these impressive accomplishments must be taken at face value simply because we are observing weather events that simply have never occurred before, never!" Stevens wrote on his Web site. "The evidence of these weapons at work found within the clouds overhead is simply unmistakable. These patterns and odd geometric shapes seen in our skies, each and every day, are clear and present evidence that our weather has been stolen from us, only to be used by those whose designs for humanity are rarely in alignment with that of the common man."

And if it's on the Web, it must be true, right? Go get 'em, Tiger!

As I said when I first linked to his site, you should go check it out if for no other reason than because he has some pretty coo-el photos up.

Posted by Robert at 02:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

"I Have Not Yet Begun To Fight"


Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Flamborough Head in 1779, in which the Bonhomme Richard, under the command of John Paul Jones, defeated H.M.S. Serapis under the command of Captain Richard Pearson. Here is an account of the battle. The Serapis could both outsail and outgun the Richard. Jones won the battle by getting close enough to lay his ship along side his opponent and then hang on like grim death. Unfortunately, it appears that Jones never actually uttered the expression of defiance now ascribed to him, although there is absolutely no doubt about the heroism of his tenacity.

I recently read Evan Thomas' biography of Jones. The impression I came away with was one of sadly wasted talent - Jones spent a great deal of the war on the beach, squabbling with various fellow officers and government officials. His action against the Serapis proved to be his one real moment to shine.

I still remember a ballad about the battle, although I don't know much about its origins. It goes:

An American frigate, called Richard by name,
Mounting guns forty-four, from New York she came,
For a cruise in the channel of Old England's fame,
With a noble commander, Paul Jones was his name.

We hadn't sailed far when some ships we did spy,
A stout forty-four and a twenty likewise,
And forty bold shipping all laden with store,
And that convoy stood in for the old Yorkshire shore.

Then Paul Jones did speak and to his men did say,
"Let every man fight a good battle today.
We'll take that bold convoy in the height of her pride,
Or the Richard shall flounder and sink in the tide."

The battle rolled on until bold Pearson cried,
"Have you yet struck your colors? Then come along side!"
But so far from thinking that the battle was won,
Brave Paul Jones replied, "I have not yet begun!"

We fought them eight glasses, eight glasses so hot,
That seventy bold seamen lay dead on the spot.
The shot flew so hot that they couldn't stand it long,
And the brave British colors came finally down.

Posted by Robert at 01:49 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

"Yes. The Mouse Problem."

I read this Guardian article about transplanting human chromosomes into mice with some concern.

I presume you know exactly where that kind of thing leads?

UPDATE: From my musing in the comments to this post. Yes, this works just fine:



UPDATE DEUX: Apparently, at least according to Google, we Llamas are now out-Pythoning Python.


Posted by Robert at 01:18 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Is it just me?

Wizbang is reporting that New Orleans is flooding again, what with the weakened levees etc. etc. etc.

Was it just me, or did anyone else see those high cement walls, the houses looking all busted up, the crime etc., Ernest Borgnine wandering around all dazed, and think you know, there's only one person to handle this job....

We need someone who is a war hero.

We need someone who can think unconventionally, who knows what to do with the media, who can resourcefully solve problems and cut through the bureaucracy.

Someone who can be acceptable to the lefties, because he can say, "I don't give a fuck about your war...or your President!" But is acceptable to the right because, well, just who he is: the only person who truly embodies the idea of federal emergency management.

I can only think of one person we can appoint to head up F.E.M.A. and give New Orleans what it deserves. And I hear your objection, "Steve, but he's dead."

And that's what they always think:

snake plisskin head of fema.gif
snake for fema.gif

Posted by Steve at 01:01 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

The evil that IS Glenn Reynolds

Apparently, blending up some tasty puppy smoothies isn't enough for some people:


Hmmmm, I can only think of one possible "high pressure sytem controlling the motion of the hurricaine" centered in Tennessee....

Now that you think about it, creating menacing hurricanes is one of the powers attributed to the Dark Lord in Harry Potter....

glenn i am lord voldemort reynolds.gif
Glenn Harlan Reynolds, aka Lord Voldemort

Posted by Steve at 12:42 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Wankerpalooza Update

The Evil Puppy Blender has a round-up of items about the press spin on this weekend's anti-war demonstration crowd in Dee Cee. (Pretty neat trick by Bill, btw, getting himself an Instalanche without even bother to post for two weeks.)

For the record, I have no problem with people opposed to the war getting out and venting their opinions. But as Glenn suggests, there needs to be considerable more honesty in the press about who the protesters actually are, particularly since, as he says, some of them are "not so much 'anti-war' as just on the other side."

UPDATE: The Mudville Gazette has much, much more.

Posted by Robert at 12:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Combatting the Karl Rove/KGB/Japanese Mafia Hurricane Weapon

Il Pundito di Martini links to an interesting article proposing to use space-based microwave beams to (among other things) take down overly-powerful hurricanes:

Hurricane Steering? If high-power microwaves, able to evaporate significant amounts of water, could be beamed down from space, what if they were beamed into the path of a hurricane? Would they be sufficient to change its track? Or, if they were beamed into the eye wall of the storm, would they vaporize enough water to reduce the strength of the storm? It seems the process might affect the winds and perhaps raise the barometric pressure near the center of the storm, and could potentially reduce, say, a Category 4 storm into a Category 3.

We are far from being able to implement or even test ideas such as this, of course. Even the simplest of these ideas--space-based power generation itself--would require immense capital investment and concerted developmental effort. That effort might be worthwhile, however for two reasons. First, like the Apollo effort, the research and development would likely yield significant "spin-offs" that would feed other industries. Second, and perhaps more important as we prosecute the Terror War, in the long term it would reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

This reminds me of an old episode of Star Trek - TNG involving a young woman who discovers that she is part of the Q. She tells Picard at some point that her parents on Earth were killed by a tornado. Picard is surprised and says something like, "A tornado? Why wasn't it prevented by the meteorological-amelioration grid?"

Yes, it's the old Utopian pipe dream of some day outlawing bad weather.

Personally, I think we should stick to working on airborne-laser volcano-lancing.

UPDATE: In the interest of accuracy, I went back and hunted down the Star Trek quote I was thinking of. I was close enough to make my point, but not so close as to qualify as an uber-geek. It's from the Season 6 episode "True Q":

DATA: I have some information regarding Amanda Rogers' parents. Records indicate that they died in Topeka, Kansas. Their home was destroyed during a tornado.

PICARD: A tornado? Why wasn't it dissipated by the Weather Modification Net?

DATA: Unknown, sir. The bodies were found in the rubble after the storm had passed.

PICARD: (a beat as he ponders) See if you can find out any details. I'd like to know more about that storm.

DATA: Yes, Captain.

It turns out later that the Q used the twister to murder Amanda's parents. I think that, if nothing else, this is a warning that although with science we can tame Mother Nature and ignore God, there are always going to be limits.

UPDATE: Well, if satellite hurricane death rays prove too far-fetched, we can always fall back on the Jello Treatment.

Posted by Robert at 11:35 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Random Personal Observation

Yup, it's the beginning of the school year, when the Butcher's House turns into one gigantic petri dish.

Know what's fun? That extra-special kind of cold where every time you cough, your abdominal muscles cramp up.

Posted by Robert at 10:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Best Headline of the Day


Posted by Steve at 10:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Daily Dose of Tolkien Geekery

Gary the Tolkien Geek rounds out his posting on Book One of The Fellowship of the Ring with Chapter 12 - Flight to the Ford, with an interesting comparison of the time it took Bilbo and Frodo, respectively, to make the journey from the Shire to Rivendell. (What always bothered me about this chapter was Strider's assertion that Weathertop was about half-way between Bree and Rivendell. It certainly didn't seem that way, given the amounts of time taken on the two stages of the journey.)

Gary also mentions the Hobbits' encounter with the old stone trolls from Bilbo's prior adventure:

Tolkien even decides to make a stop at a place familiar to readers to The Hobbit. As they follow a worn path, they discover the troll-hole where Bilbo had found Sting, his elvish blade. Further off in a clearing they come upon the three trolls that were introduced in Chapter 2 of The Hobbit, and stood there still having been turned to stone some sixty years earlier. Frodo and Sam recognize them from the many times Bilbo told them the story. I almost wish, however, that Tolkien had not included this reminder that in his earlier work there were trolls with the names Bill, Bert and Tom that spoke with a cockney dialect. That depiction of trolls seems too inconsistent with the way they are presented in The Lord of the Rings.

I suppose that's the danger of trying to write both a children's and an adult version of the same matter. On the other hand, in one of the earliest chapters of FOTR reporting on the growing threat of evil in the world, Tolkien mentions that trolls were abroad again, no longer dull, but cunning and armed with dreadful weapons. (I can't remember the exact quote.) I always thought this was an attempt to cover the inconsistency of their prior depiction in The Hobbit.

As for Frodo's harrowing arrival at the Ford, I'd just like to point out that Peter Jackson's insertion of Liv Tyler doing a Xena impersonation at this point serves no purpose whatsoever other than to give the audience some eye-candy. Surely you movie buffs are going to let me have this gripe.

By the way, Gary also links to what looks like a very interesting book: Karen Wynn Fonstad's The Atlas of Middle Earth. We wants it! We waaaaaantsss it!

Posted by Robert at 10:00 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

September 22, 2005

Daily Dose of Tolkien Geekery

Actually, Ith gets the honors today by reminding us that September 22 is the birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. Many happy returns!

Posted by Robert at 05:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Some Good News

Owlish made it out of Galveston.

Posted by Robert at 04:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

It's Abaya Barbie!


Actually, her name is Fulla and apparently she's selling like gang-busters all 'round the Middle East. You can read the article either as an example of a company that hit the sweet spot with its marketing campaign, or else as a leading indicator of creeping Islamic conservatism. Or perhaps both.

The Llama-ettes have a whole sorority house worth of Barbies. I'm a little uneasy about this concept of a direct link between dolls' costumes and the promotion of kiddie moral values, because every single one of their dolls is buck-naked, right down to Little Mermaid Barbie, who got stripped of her tail.

UPDATE: Well, in the name of fairness, I hunted around a bit to see if I could find Evangelical Barbie. But no dice. However, I did come across this site which includes, among many others Stable-Boy's Punishment Barbie, Biker Barbie and "Daaaa-aaad! When Do I Get To Play With Her?" Barbie.

Posted by Robert at 03:29 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Your "Don't Get Stuck On Scandinavian Bloody-Mindedness" Link For The Day

It's August Strindberg & Helium.

I've not read that much Strindberg, but what I have read makes Henrik Ibsen seem downright cheerful by comparison. (I was in serious running once to play Jean in Miss Julie, but dropped it in order to do some John Synge instead. I don't regret the choice.) Maybe it's just me, but I think this is funny stuff.

Yips! to Dean.

Posted by Robert at 02:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Lara St. John, contemporary treatment of classics--note the strategic placement of the violin.

YIPS! from Robbo: Oh, my. Classical Cheesecake kicks it up a notch. Put a babe on the cover and Whango! Instant Music Appreciation! (Or, to be more precise about the aim, Instant Music Sales!) I've actually seen articles now and again about this kind of marketing ploy. (In fact, here's one off Miss Cheesecake's own website.)

I suppose glamour shots of Sarah Chang and Anne Sophie Mutter are enough for us older farts, but it was thought time to go after a younger demographic.

All I can say is thank God nobody's asked Isaac Stern to take off his shirt.

Posted by LMC at 01:06 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)

Not me, this time, but The Colossus, writing about what is also my favorite Beatles album, Revolver. At one point, I had the U.K. version, too. I don't have any Beatles music at the moment and have been thinking lately that I need to stock up again. Coloss' reminds me why.

Oh, and just in case you're interested, "For No One" has always been one of my very favorite Beatles songs.

Posted by Robert at 12:45 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Behold the Awesome Power Of The Dark Side

John at Wuzzadem has pics from Mother Sheehan's plenty-of-good-seats-left arrival here in Dee Cee yesterday.

For the past day or two, the usual suspects have been handing out fliers at the Metro for this weekend's anti-war Wankerpalooza.

Think it's just a coincidence that while this protest, which it is hoped will draw "tens of thousands" to Your Nation's Capital, is going on, the entire country is going to be glued to watching updates on Hurricane Rita's landfall? Then you have no idea of what the Force can do in the hands of Sith Lord Rove.

Posted by Robert at 10:20 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

White-Knuckle Posting

All of you have probably seen the emergency landing of that Jet Blue flight with the twisted front gear in Los Angeles yesterday, but in case you haven't, the Political Teen has got it up.

Not the sort of thing I need to see just before winging all the way across the country myself.

The rational side of my brain is saying, "Okay, some kind of mechanical glitch, but very professional job in getting the plane down safely."

The irrational side of my brain is saying, "If you keep showing pictures of that twisted gear, you'll just give all the other jets bad ideas."

Posted by Robert at 10:05 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Ciao, Bella!

Well, the Cat Lady got her act together and delivered Bella the new Llama-Cat to our house last evening. (Here let me just put in a gratuitous plug for the Noah's Ark Foundation. Yes, I make Cartman-like fun of them for being a bunch of long-haired hippy freaks, and the Cat Lady was exactly as I had imagined she would be, but given the out of control cat population and the horrific end many of these animals come to, what they do is a good thing.)

Anyhoo, Bella turns out to be a rather small animal. She's long legged and a bit on the underfed side, giving her that ferrel look. Her coat is a dark tortoise-shell with black paws and a blackish patch over much of her face.

She also seems a very amiable little creature. Within five minutes of being introduced into the Butcher's House, she was curling herself around the legs of the Llama-ettes, whose combined attentions I had been convinced would buffalo the poor thing. And, as I suppose is the way of Fate, she seems to have taken an especial shine to me, proving it by climbing on to my chest at 3:00 AM and snagging her claws into my t-shirt. We're going to have to stomp on that custom right quick.

So far, the only unhappy one is Jenny, the other Llama-Cat. Her first reaction to Bella was, "Yo! This is MY house, bitch," and she spent the rest of the evening sulking, with the occassional growl or hiss thrown in. I don't think the two of them will actually fight, however, and once Jenny gets used to things, they should do fine.

Posted by Robert at 09:38 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The Singularity, LLama Style

It just makes me feel all warm and happy down below that O-Dub and I are reading Wilbon's column at the same time, nodding over the Count Chocula, muttering under our breaths what an overrated hack Kornheiser is.

I mean, if we can find agreement in something so critical as Joe Gibbs, maybe there is some hope for this crazy little island home in the cosmos of ours after all....

Posted by Steve at 09:18 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Maybe I need to rethink my "I never want to be an administrator!" oath...

Nobody told me about the personal chef.

Hey Liz, the jokes flow like honey from this one, no?

Posted by Steve at 09:08 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


As I do every year (well, okay, last year was the first opportunity I had), I like to commemorate the first day of my favorite season with the an appropriate piece from my favorite poet:

To Autumn

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
Posted by Robert at 09:06 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 21, 2005


Scribal Terror has photos of what happened when a mountain lion started to stalk a couple's hunting dogs and their mule decided to take matters into its own, er, hooves.

[Insert your own "Now if only we could get the Donks this serious about defense....." joke here.]

Posted by Robert at 05:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The LLamabutchers: Stuck on Stupid Because Mediocrity Was, Like, WAYYYY Too Crowded

Today's case in point: Debra LeFavre

Debra who you might ask?


Seems she's the naughty teacher who decided it was time to act out those goofy Rob Lowe early 80s cheez-fest movies about hot nympho teachers and their young charges. Not that that genre had an influence on the young llamabutchers, mind you: we were too busy forging fake ID's to get the Senior Discount for the 53rd viewing of Wrath of Khan (you try to support a Trek habit on a paper route sinecure!)

Anyhoo, Wizbang thinks it is somehow in the public interest to post all sorts of cheese cake, semi-nude, nekkid pics of said raunchy teacher replete with Harleys and such. After she gets out of the slam, I'm sure she has a stunning future ahead of her as a crisis babe on the Weather Channel. Or maybe Animal Planet.

Which is why the Schoolhouse Rocked post gets the Steve the LLamabutcher stuck on stupid post of the day.

Posted by Steve at 04:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

More Deer Posting

Death to Bambi! (YOU think I'm kidding....)

The comments I got in response to my fuming about the damn, dirty deer attacking my garden prompted me to do a quick google search on deer-control in Fairfax County, VA. Seek and ye shall find.

Some choice Q&A:

How many deer live in Fairfax County? Deer live in just about every area of the County. Although it is not possible to know exactly how many deer live within the County's boundaries, population studies are conducted on an ongoing basis. These studies indicate that as many as 400 deer per square mile can be found in western parts of the County and that as many as 100 deer per square mile can be found within the County's urban sections. Science tells us that ideal deer densities are 15-20 deer per square mile of suitable habitat. Unfortunately, many of the areas in which large deer herds are found contain low levels of suitable habitat due to the large number of deer and deer overbrowsing. Stream valleys and natural wooded areas of the County that have little undergrowth and relatively few native, hardwood seedlings are likely populated by a large number of deer.

We live in a pretty heavily wooded area of half-acre lots. The population of the herd living in the woods behind my house seems to run anywhere between 15 and 20 animals per year.

What does a deer eat? White-tailed deer feed primarily on leaves, buds, twigs and nuts. They also enjoy ornamental plants in residential communities such as hostas, daylilies and azaleas. An average deer eats between 5-8 pounds of plants a day.

A more accurate answer would be "damn near anything that's green".

How can I keep deer from eating my garden and the shrubs and flowers in my yard? While some plants may be less enjoyable to deer, the food palette of urban deer is evolving and expanding. Also, damage will vary depending upon availability of other food choices.

Consult local nurseries regarding plant varieties not favored by deer. Some of these include:
Common Boxwoods
Colorado Blue Spruce
Red Osier Dogwoods
Scots Pine
Common lilac
Ornamental Grasses
Tarragon and wormwood
Virginia Bluebells
Lilly of the Valley

Install fences. A resource for information on fencing options can be found at:

Some residents have found it helpful to hang wrapped bar soap in the affected area. The brand of soap does not appear to make a difference. Hotel style bars work as well as full sized bars of soap.

Keep dogs present in the area.

Contact local nurseries for information on deer repellent products currently coming on the market.

Note: While human hair may have been an effective deterrent in the past, may residents have found this technique is no longer effective. Urban deer have become comfortable co-existing with humans. Wild animals become acclimated to deterrents. A varied program with several components will be more effective than a single preventive method.

Everybody's got a favorite defense, but they all sooner or later confess that it doesn't work very well. Even the dog, unless it's outside 24/7. The deer simply get used to the smell and wait till Fido's inside.

Why isn't the County pursuing methods to reduce deer fertility? Immunocontraception as a method of birth control is being used to control deer population among confined herds on an experimental basis. This method consists of injecting female deer with a protein or hormone released through darts or biobullets. To be effective, two injections must be administered during the first breeding season followed by a booster every year. The County is not using this method at the present time for four main reasons:

To date, there is no known technique to locate, approach and dart a majority of the female deer in a free ranging herd. Each deer would also have to be tagged for identification purposes to avoid accidental multiple doses. Darting of deer would need to take place on an annual basis through the County.

The County’s use of this experimental method requires partnering with a university or other research organization to test this method and no partner has been identified at this time.

The effectiveness of this method is currently limited to confined herds.

There are no State policies or regulations that would allow the County to use this method non-experimentally.

They sure aren't doing anything where I live. Our herd boasted three new fawns this year.

And now the kicker:

Is hunting deer on my property in Fairfax County possible? What do I need to do? Who do I contact?

A hunting registration for firearms use can only be approved in those areas of Fairfax County designated by the Board of Supervisors. A minimum land parcel of twenty acres is required. The 20 acres need not be under single ownership, but must form a single tract. Hunting on posted property requires written permission of the property owner; hunting on nonposted property requires verbal permission of the property owner. Contact the Department of Animal Control at (703) 830-3310 for details.

There is no minimum acreage requirement for bow hunting. However, archers must have the permission of the property owner.

Emphasis mine. Anybody out there got a bow and want some free venison?

YIPS from Steve: What? Teaching them abstinence and waiting for marriage isn't working? We're ROOOOOOOOOOME, dammit! Imperial decline!

Posted by Robert at 03:49 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Oh no, now he's done it

I think our own Chai-Rista is going to have to open up a mighty big can o' whuppass on Phin for his heresy concerning BBQ.

Take it away, Liz!

UPDATE: You've got to hand it to Phin, though, for coming through for us on the concept of bubble-wrap lingerie.

Posted by Steve at 02:31 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Obligatory "Stuck On Stupid" Posting

(Image courtesy of Slublog.)

Well, I was resisting the temptation to get on the catch-phrase bandwagon today, as I generally don't like that sort of thing. But after reading the transcript of Lt. Gen. Russell Honore over at the Colossus's place and noting the nifty poster he had appropriated, I decided to bend my rules just a bit.

But only for today. I promise you this is the last time I will ever use this expression.

Posted by Robert at 02:15 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

I Am The Reasonable Man

You are a

Social Moderate
(43% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(63% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

I suppose this is more or less accurate, although the questions really aren't all that good.

Yips! to the Maximum Leader.

YIPS from Steve: The problem I have with this one is why isn't Communism up on the edge? And fascism? WTF? European and American ideologies don't mix like that. I mean they were the National SOCIALIST German Workers Party after all.

Rove must be behind this, I swear!

Posted by Robert at 02:01 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Oh shit, I've blown my cover

I was laughing too hard after reading this piece by Ace, which includes his lifiting of a quote:

When they came for the crackheads, I said nothing, since I never smoked any rock. And, eeeewwwww--they're crackheads!

When they came for the white-collar cokefiends....

You have to read the whole thing. Just not at work.

Must. Not. Read. Ace. At. Work.

Posted by Steve at 01:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

New to me blog

I was wondering what Jeffords was going to do with himself once he left the Senate...

Posted by Steve at 12:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The sound you here is Edoard Said, spinning wildly (to the left, or Occident) in his grave

Your humble LLamas are #7 for the search "Sexy Arabs"

Woo hoo! In your face, Publiuspundit!

Posted by Steve at 12:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Coming soon to CSI...

I'd like to see Grissom handle this.

I blame the time travelling bastard Rove for this one.

(insert best Shatnerian voice) ROVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(HT to Tink)

Posted by Steve at 12:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Daily Dose of Tolkien Geekery

Gary the Tolkien Geek, after being delayed in the Blogger Marshes, has posted his latest on FOTR: Book I, Chapter 11 - A Knife In The Dark.

Meanwhile, if you haven't seen them, some great comments were posted in response to my own outburst of Tolkien geekery yesterday. I just wanted to keep this thread going by responding to a couple of them.

BWS says:

My main thrust was that the ring was not just a passive object, but an active evil influence. Aragorn, Faramir, et al were not just resisting their own temptations, they were coping with an active force seeking to bend their will to Sauron, something not even the maia (Saruman) were immune to.

No doubt about it. And the Ring not only worked by preying on its victims' weakness of will (the whispering bit does not appear in the book, but I'm willing to accept it as a legitimate screen device for demonstrating this), it also had the capacity to take some limited physical action of its own - i.e., slipping on or off a finger at an opportune time. A fascinating question is raised early on about how Bilbo came to find the Ring in the dark. Gandalf states that it clearly wasn't the intention of the Ring itself or the Enemy and that some other power must have been at work. But we never really get a definite answer as to what that power might be. Is it the work of the Valar? Or possibly of Eru himself? We might call it Divine Intervention in our world, but given the multiple layers of divinity in Tolkien's, it becomes that much more complicated to identify the mover.

Then we come to the issue of the strength of the various Men to resist the Ring

Gary says:

Just for the record Robbo, the Numenorean blood flowed pretty darn strong through Isildur's veins, but it didn't seem to help him.

Vinnie says:

I will say one thing though, I don't think Numenorean blood had anything to do with the difference.

And Matt Navarre says:

But it's not just that Faramir and Aragorn are men of uncomprimising principle and Boromir is not. It's just that Boromir's principles are much more amenable to being twisted by the Ring. Boromir has just as much honor as Faramir and Aragorn, but it's different, and arrived at from a different perspective.

First of all, it is a given that the Enemy theoretically could corrupt any Man, regardless of his blood. In fact, as told elsewhere, Sauron managed to so twist Numenor itself that the Valar eventually destroyed it and most of its inhabitants. Furthermore, many so-called "Black Numenoreans" settled along the coasts of Middle Earth to the South - it is from them that the kingdom of Harad arose. As to Isildur and the Ring, just remember that he thought he was taking it as a weregild and a prize after what he thought was the destruction of Sauron. He wasn't after it as a source of power in and of itself.

But on the broader issue, it is absolutely impossible to ignore the importance of the blood of Elendil. He and his folk were known as "The Faithful" in Numenor before its fall, those Enlightened Men who remained respectful of the Valar and friendly with the Elves, while the other Numenoreans gradually went over to, if you'll pardon the expression, the Dark Side. When Numenor was drowned, the Valar once again stepped into ensure that a remnant of the Faithful survived its downfall and made it to Middle Earth, where they founded the "good" kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor.

Tolkien spends a good bit of time discussing the various kinds of Men in Middle Earth. There are basically three types - the Men of the West (the Numenoreans), the Men of the Twilight who are (or can be) essentially good but ignorant of the Divine Grace of the West (the Rohirrim and the Beornings are cited as examples), and the Men of the Dark, those under the thumb of Evil (the Dunlandings and the vast nameless hordes of the East are the examples here). So far as I can recollect, the Men of the Dark never rise above themselves. [UPDATE: I had forgotten about Ghan-Buri-Ghan and his folk. They appear to be wild yet uncorrupted by Evil.] But Tolkien spends a good bit of time discussing the gradual slide of the Numenoreans toward Twilight status, as well as the rise of the Rohirrim toward a more, what, civlized or enlightened culture. I'm not sure there necessarily is any real fault about the gradual decay of the Numenoreans. Rather, it is a function of being separated by time and space from Valinor, the equivalent of being kicked out of Eden.

But even though the Numenoreans are, in effect, exiles from Paradise, it is their high purpose to maintain the memory of that ideal. Gondor and Arnor are a reflection of Numenor at its best. Numenor, in turn, is a reflection of Valinor, and was originally a gift from the Valar in thanks for the efforts of the Three Houses of Men that aided the Elves in their wars against Morgoth. (This continuity is symbolized by the White Tree of Gondor, by the way, which has a similar lineage.)

Although the Light has been fading gradually among the Numenoreans, it is not completely gone. Faramir is an example of this. And in Aragorn, it shines out again as bright as ever it had been. This, in the end, is closely tied to Aragorn's central role in the closing of the Third Age and the beginning of the Fourth Age, the Dominion of Men.

There are all kinds of theological implications to this that I won't get in to here. But as far as Tolkien was concerned, in Middle Earth, blood definitely does tell.

Posted by Robert at 11:59 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Steve the LLamabutcher Prediction Deux

The next nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court will be....

Viet Dinh.

Posted by Steve at 10:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Outdoor Fuming

Who knew that deer like to eat the flowers off chrysanthemums?

I noticed this morning that they'd polished off the entire set of eight plants along the walk by our front door. And for afters, they razed to the ground a group of nearby hostas that were just sprouting up again after the last time the deer had got to them.

Those God-damned dewy-eyed bastards.

Posted by Robert at 09:20 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Llama-Cat Update

Bella didn't arrive last evening after all.

We got a message from the cat lady that she had to postpone dropping the cat off because she'd had some kind of domestic emergency involving boyfriends losing jobs and Person X having to be driven to Place Y at such and such a time as a result, and yadda, yadda, yadda.

Well, I stopped listening at about that point. I reckon when you're dealing with somebody who's life work involves handing out free cats, it's a waste of valuable blood pressure to be overly concerned with business-like efficiency.

The seven and three year olds took the news just fine. Fortunately, the seven year old is on one of her I'll-prove-to-you-how-grown-up-I-am kicks. The five year old, on the other hand, was in tears all evening because she'd been so excited. At bedtime, I flipped through our collection of Berenstein Bear books to see if we had one covering a situation like this, but it appears we don't. (The closest we come is the one about Brother and Sister Bear getting a case of the galloping gimmees, an expression that has firmly planted itself in the domestic vocabulary.)

Anyhoo, we're going to try again this evening.

Posted by Robert at 09:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Steve the LLamabutcher Prediction of the Day

And here's my prediction du jour: now that Cindy Sheehan has started to attack the Clintons (Bill as a war criminal for his actions in Iraq as president; Hill for her support of the war), look for her to show up dead within the next six weeks from botulism, avian flu, or under a Metro Bus.

I lied. I fully expect her to be the new backup quarterback for the Redskins.

Posted by Steve at 08:41 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

The next Supreme Court nominee

Apparently there is going to be a big meeting this week between Bush and some leading Senators:

President Bush has invited Senate leaders and the top two lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee to the White House on Wednesday to discuss the second vacancy on the Supreme Court. The meeting is similar to one Bush held in July, one week before he nominated Roberts to fill the shoes of the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.

Top senators want to know Bush's pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, but he isn't expected to hand over his shortlist before the Senate Judiciary Committee votes on his choice of John Roberts for chief justice.

Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., refused to talk Tuesday about whether he would suggest candidates. "It's his meeting," said Specter, who said he hopes the nominee will be "someone who will promote stability so there are no sharp turns" on the nation's highest court.

"I'm going to listen to what he says and I'm going to respond to it the best I can," Specter said.

Democratic leader Harry Reid, who said Tuesday that he'll oppose Roberts' expected confirmation, urged the president to proceed slowly on filling O'Connor's seat. "I don't think he needs to do it in the next couple of weeks, that's for sure," he said.

To some legal analysts, the stakes are higher for Bush's nominee to replace O'Connor. They say Roberts' confirmation would essentially replace one conservative vote with another. O'Connor, however, has been the deciding vote in some affirmative action, abortion, campaign finance, discrimination and death penalty cases.

Reid said Tuesday he would view it as a "poke in the eye with a sharp stick" if Bush nominated any of the 10 appeals court nominees whom Democrats blocked in recent years, including some who were later confirmed. That group includes federal appellate judges Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown, two candidates thought to be under consideration.

Dana Perino, White House deputy press secretary, suggested Reid was changing the standard for judging nominees to the Supreme Court. "The public does not want to see the Supreme Court become an extension of partisan politics," Perino said.

Reid and company are making a big mistake by deciding to vote en masse against Roberts' confirmation. Had they decided to go along, they could have in return demanded some degree of "moderation" or "consultation" for O'Connor's replacement. There's nothing in that for Bush, because whomever he selects they are going to reject anyway, so he might as well appeal to his base. One of the central memes of the administration is not to get burned making similar mistakes that Bush 41 made: and his greatest mistake, from this view, was working with the congressional Democrats on the budget. He gave them his word, broke his promise not to raise taxes, and they turned around and lit him up like a SpongeBob pinata at a Reston 5 year old's backyard birthday party. ("Try the croquet mallet, Timmy!") Now, 100 years from now I think the David McCulloch of the era is going to write a hell of a great biography placing George H.W. Bush as one of the great presidents of the 20th century (yes, I am quite serious---it took people 200 years to appreciate John Adams, but I don't think it will take quite so long for Poppy). And there is certainly the sense that right now is NOT the time to be triggering an overtly partisan fight, with his political capital on the slender side. On that front, however, I think he's going to rise in the polls, perhaps dramatically: the "Bush blew up the levees because he hates blacks and HALLIBURTON!" mentality overplayed their hand. He's owned up to the slow federal response, to the degree over time people are going to see that it wasn't really that slow. The real problems from a governmental perspective----Mayor Ray Nagin and Governor Blanco---are beginning to show their true colors, or at least even CNN is now slowly coming to realize the gross incompetence of their management. Nagin's time has been this week, with his downright loopy press conferences and bizarre shots across the bow at the Coast Guard. Blanco's time will come soon too.

YIPS! from Robbo - The Donks are going to fight tooth and nail against any nominee to the right of Barbra Streisand, so it strikes me that any talk of compromise or finesse is a waste of time. Time for Dubya to bring the heater.

By the way, with regard to the poll numbers, I have it straight from a white-hot source inside the Administration that the Sith Lord Rove ordered the second hurricane to be aimed at the Texas coast in order to a) give the Feds another shot at a lightning response, thereby erasing memories of earlier slowness and b) give the Texas Republicans a chance to show how to handle disaster relief competantly and make the Donks in Louisiana look even worse.

Is that genius, or what?

Posted by Steve at 08:37 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Just say no

Kornheiser is starting to talk about a nine-letter word, begins with "b" and ends with "wagon."


Posted by Steve at 08:23 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 20, 2005

Wayne's World

With the arrival of Bella, the new Llama-cat later this afternoon, the female to male ratio at the Butcher's House will reach 6 to 1. In short, I'm completely surrounded.

Fortunately, Netflix is sending in the anti-estrogen cavalry:

Rio Lobo.jpg

Rio Lobo.

I'm pretty sure that I've seen this movie before, but I have no recollection of it whatsoever. So this counts as a new one for me.

Poking around, I was pleased to see that Roger Ebert understands John Wayne movies:

We go to a classic John Wayne Western not to see anything new, but to see the old done again, done well, so that we can sink into the genre and feel confident we won't be betrayed. To some degree Wayne movies are rituals, and so it is fitting that they resemble each other. "El Dorado" was a remake of Hawks' "Rio Bravo" (1958), and "Rio Lobo" draws from both of them. (It is said that when Hawks called Wayne and offered to send over the script, Wayne replied, "Why bother? I've already made the movie twice.")

Ya got that right, pilgrim. And even with all the fussing and cooing and baby-talk I'm going to have to hear over the damned cat, I reckon that with the Duke riding shotgun (and maybe some Beam and a cigar), I can make it through.

UPDATE: And for those of you wondering how I can go from babbling about Tolkien to babbling about John Wayne movies at the drop of a hat, let's just say that the voices in my head have worked out a pretty good time-share agreement.

UPDATE DEUX: It turns out I had not seen this movie before. Frankly, it's a bit flat compared to El Dorado and Rio Bravo, both of which are among my favorites, but it's still okay.

Posted by Robert at 04:51 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

You've Got Questions? We've Got Answers.

A reader comments on yesterday's daily dose of Tolkien geekery:

I think PJ had a valid point of his treatment of Faramir and the ring. In addition to his desire to gain Denethor's approval, how is it that he is not even tempted by the ring when he has Frodo and Sam captured and powerless?

I loved the scene at the end of FOTR where Aragorn finds Frodo just before the orcs attack. When he sees the ring, you can hear it whispering to him.

The ring corrupted Boromir and was a serious temptation to Galadriel and Aragorn. What makes Faramir unusually resistant to its power?

Well, where to begin?

In fact, Jackson does seem to proceed from the notion that the Ring had a universal evil effect on anyone who comes near it. This is different from Tolkien's running theme about nobility of character and its effect on the ability to withstand corruptive temptation, a theme explored in the contrasting reaction of various characters to the Ring.

Unlike in the movies, there is never, ever, any hint in Tolkien's books that Aragorn is at any time tempted by the Ring. Aragorn is the future High King of the reunited Arnor and Gondor, and in him Tolkien places all the finest traits of the the Numenoreans, the Men of Westernesse. Indeed, if there is any weakness in Tolkien's writing, it is that Aragorn is perhaps too good.

Boromir, on the other hand, is an example of the lesser stature to which the Men of Gondor have fallen over the course of their history. He thinks only in terms of power, forgetting what it was about Gondor that made it good and noble and worth defending in the first place. Thus, he is naturally drawn to the Ring and, indeed, never even understands its evil nature until the very end. (As an aside - is the corruption of Boromir part of a plan by the Ring to disrupt the Fellowship? Or is it just a natural consequence of his character? I've never really thought about this.)

In Faramir, Tolkien created a character with a nobility of purpose much closer to Aragorn's (and Gandalf's) than to Boromir's and Denethor's. (Indeed, Boromir and Faramir are only half-brothers. While Denethor is their common father, they had different mothers.) Faramir appreciates Gondor for what it should be, not just for its power. Thus his ability to resist the Ring, even though it is almost literally dropped in his lap. In fact, Faramir's crisis in the books is that he craves his father's love but won't sacrifice his principles to achieve it.

As for Galadriel, well, the history of the dealings of the Elves with Sauron and the Rings of Power is rather complicated. She is far from perfect, but her wisdom and experience protect her from ever being seduced by Sauron's power. It's true that Frodo's offer of the Ring catches her flat-footed and makes her confess her fantasy, but while Jackson builds up a knife-edged temptation scene, from which she emerges dazed and gasping, in the book she ends her "All shall love me and despair!" speech with a sudden clear and pure laugh. And while she says, "I pass the test," as I believe she does in the movie, I've always understood this to mean that, in fact, she passed it a long time ago.

Yes, yes, I know. Book. Movie. Different. But notice how good I'm being about just fleshing out those differences here, instead of flogging them to death?

UPDATE: Whoops! I guess I got some anti-geek points for consistently mispelling Faramir's name, but then lost them again for catching the mistake.

UPDATE DEUX: We have a challenge on the field regarding the connection between Boromir and Faramir. I was going strictly from memory and could have sworn they had different mothers. It doesn't have any effect on my basic point, but we strive for accuracy. Further review is required.

UPDATE TROIS: After further review, the ruling on the field is overturned. Findulias was indeed the mother of both Boromir and Faramir. For whatever reason, the Numenorean blood that she carried from the princes of Dol Amroth ran more purely in Faramir than it did in Boromir.

Posted by Robert at 02:05 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

Parental Wisdom

Jordana has a very good post about the vast distinction between trying to make one's child happy and trying to instill in one's child the ability to find contentment. In my humble opinion, the former is a fool's errand while the latter is the greatest service one could ever perform. And I think her formula for instilling the ability to achieve peace no matter what good or ill befalls - faith, creativity and learning - is an excellent one (not least because it happens to be the one we use with the Llama-ettes).

Go on over and read it.

Posted by Robert at 12:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wait, wait, I've seen this movie on the USA Network

I'm smelling a movie here: a millenial remake of the Untouchables (the Touch-a-lots?) with Ralph Macchio in the Andy Garcia role, Corey Feldman in the geeky accountant role, Frank Whaley in the Kevin Costner/Elliot Ness role, and of course Judd Nelson in the Sean Connery/Sgt. Malone role.

DeNiro/Capone? James Spader, of course.

The punch line first. The set up?

Recruits Sought for Porn Squad

The FBI is joining the Bush administration's War on Porn. And it's looking for a few good agents.

Early last month, the bureau's Washington Field Office began recruiting for a new anti-obscenity squad. Attached to the job posting was a July 29 Electronic Communication from FBI headquarters to all 56 field offices, describing the initiative as "one of the top priorities" of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and, by extension, of "the Director." That would be FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.

Mischievous commentary began propagating around the water coolers at 601 Fourth St. NW and its satellites, where the FBI's second-largest field office concentrates on national security, high-technology crimes and public corruption.

The new squad will divert eight agents, a supervisor and assorted support staff to gather evidence against "manufacturers and purveyors" of pornography -- not the kind exploiting children, but the kind that depicts, and is marketed to, consenting adults.

"I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."

Among friends and trusted colleagues, an experienced national security analyst said, "it's a running joke for us."

A few of the printable samples:

"Things I Don't Want On My Résumé, Volume Four."

"I already gave at home."

"Honestly, most of the guys would have to recuse themselves."

Federal obscenity prosecutions, which have been out of style since Attorney General Edwin Meese III in the Reagan administration made pornography a signature issue in the 1980s, do "encounter many legal issues, including First Amendment claims," the FBI headquarters memo noted.

Applicants for the porn squad should therefore have a stomach for the kind of material that tends to be most offensive to local juries. Community standards -- along with a prurient purpose and absence of artistic merit -- define criminal obscenity under current Supreme Court doctrine.

"Based on a review of past successful cases in a variety of jurisdictions," the memo said, the best odds of conviction come with pornography that "includes bestiality, urination, defecation, as well as sadistic and masochistic behavior." No word on the universe of other kinks that helps make porn a multibillion-dollar industry.

Popular acceptance of hard-core pornography has come a long way, with some of its stars becoming mainstream celebrities and their products -- once confined to seedy shops and theaters -- being "purveyed" by upscale hotels and most home cable and satellite television systems. Explicit sexual entertainment is a profit center for companies including General Motors Corp. and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (the two major owners of DirecTV), Time Warner Inc. and the Sheraton, Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt hotel chains.

But Gonzales endorses the rationale of predecessor Meese: that adult pornography is a threat to families and children. Christian conservatives, long skeptical of Gonzales, greeted the pornography initiative with what the Family Research Council called "a growing sense of confidence in our new attorney general."

Congress began funding the obscenity initiative in fiscal 2005 and specified that the FBI must devote 10 agents to adult pornography. The bureau decided to create a dedicated squad only in the Washington Field Office. "All other field offices may investigate obscenity cases pursuant to this initiative if resources are available," the directive from headquarters said. "Field offices should not, however, divert resources from higher priority matters, such as public corruption."

Public corruption, officially, is fourth on the FBI's priority list, after protecting the United States from terrorist attack, foreign espionage and cyber-based attacks. Just below those priorities are civil rights, organized crime, white-collar crime and "significant violent crime." The guidance from headquarters does not mention where pornography fits in.

"The Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation's top priority remains fighting the war on terrorism," said Justice Department press secretary Brian Roehrkasse. "However, it is not our sole priority. In fact, Congress has directed the department to focus on other priorities, such as obscenity."

At the FBI's field office, spokeswoman Debra Weierman expressed disappointment that some of her colleagues find grist for humor in the new campaign. "The adult obscenity squad . . . stems from an attorney general mandate, funded by Congress," she said. "The personnel assigned to this initiative take the responsibility of this assignment very seriously and are dedicated to the success of this program."

Wouldn't this be like FDR, during 1942, diverting scarce resources away from the Marine Corps to make sure kids weren't sneaking into movie theaters? Like Lincoln, in 1862, sending trained officers into theaters to make sure the goils weren't showing too much leg?

Is there an actual real war going on, with threat yellow mauve and all, or did I miss something other than the Redskins' big comeback win last night?

Posted by Steve at 08:50 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Completely Useless Lunar Trivia


As I was driving home last evening, I watched the waxing moon rising over the tops of the trees. This will be the full moon nearest the Autumn Equinox (September 22 this year), and is therefor called the Harvest Moon. I've always known about that one, plus the Hunter's Moon, which comes next. I've also known that all the other full moons have one or more traditional names, but other than Honey Moon, could not remember any more of them.

Well, thanks to the Internet, that knowledge gap has been filled. Here you go:

January - Old Moon, Moon after Yule, Storm Moon

February - Hunger Moon, Snow Moon, Chaste Moon, Wolf Moon

March - Crow Moon, Lenten Moon, Sap Moon, Seed Moon

April - Egg Moon, Grass Moon, Hare Moon

May - Planter's Moon, Milk Moon

June - Flower Moon, Rose Moon, Strawberry Moon, Honey Moon

July - Hay Moon, Thunder Moon, Ripe Corn Moon

August - Grain Moon, Green Corn Moon, Barley Moon, Fruit Moon

September - Harvest Moon, Blood Moon, Fruit Moon

October - Hunter's Moon

November - Beaver Moon, Frosty Moon

December - Yule Moon

I love the obvious agricultural and meteorological roots of most of these names. And the expression "Hunger Moon" is a rather chilling reminder of just how close to the subsistence line the people were who coined the term. In fact, all of the names of the February moon indicate that it's a pretty nasty time of the year. ("Wolf Moon" does not mean, "time to go on that Sierra Club Bonding-With-Our-Misunderstood-Lupine-Siblings weekend outing.")

The Blue Moon, by the way, is the second full moon that occurs in any month. It doesn't happen very often, hence the expression "Once in a Blue Moon".

Thought you might like to know.

UPDATE: JohnL corrects me, stating that the moon was full a few days ago and is now waning again. My bad. This is what comes of sneaking off to Lothlorien - I always lose track. (Honestly, I head home about dusk these days and simply don't remember seeing the moon rise.)

Posted by Robert at 08:44 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Yeah, but at least I'm not the guy about to service the giant

Old friend, deranged moonbat druler (I'd love to type that with an umlaut but can't) and general busybody LB Buddy emailed last night, worried about my rather depressing post of yesterday. To which I'd respond, Hey, at least I'm just the guy standing to the left in this picture.....

llbuddyand the giant.jpg

So I stayed up last night to watch MNF: as a Redskins fan of these past ten years I knew it was an exercise in futility. I wasn't a Redskins fan growing up, when they were good: I converted upon marriage in 1994 (yes, I had to take the Burgundy and Gold Test, just like the Colts test in Diner) and since then its been getting nailed again and again by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. So I make it all the way into the third quarter, it's late, and the Skins are just absolutely sucking. Not sucking in a let the other team hang up 69 points, Vanderbilt versus Florida sort of way, but just not really doing anything. I mean, it was almost like watching soccer.

And did I mention I hate Parcells? Always have. And Dallas? Shiver...(and not the good Jerry Lee Lewis type of shiver)

So I went to bed, fully intending to do a "Boy, life sucks but at least I'm not Dan Snyder post."


YIPS! from Robbo: I turned off the game with five minutes to go, satisfied that my late dinner had now sufficiently settled, realizing just how bored I was and not wanting to get in trouble with the Missus for staying up past midnight. When the radio clicked on this morning and the jocks started talking about the 'skins' win, I thought either a) I had misheard them because I wasn't awake yet, or b) that snarky skins-bashing parody season had opened early.

Posted by Steve at 08:14 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

September 19, 2005

Tee Vee Blegging


I've got a Vestry meeting at Church this evening, so I won't be able to watch the season premiere of Arrested Development. If you happen to catch it, please drop a note and let me know how it goes.

(And before you ask why I can't just tape it, I'll disclose that long ago when we bought our VCR, we were trying to save money so we got one that only has a play function and can't record. And I am not sufficiently a creature of the 21st Century to start thinking yet about them fancy gizmos like TiVO.)

Posted by Robert at 06:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Oh, Gawd, It's Cat Blogging

(Don't mind this post - it's just a little bit of passive-aggressive push-back to being hustled by the family.)

The Missus seems to have fallen in love with a cat up for adoption at a local pet store over the weekend. (What she was doing in the pet store to begin with is a matter that has not yet been explained to my satisfaction.) She and the younger Llama-ettes are now lobbying hard to bring this animal into the Butcher's House, going so far as to pass me a series of notes on the subject during Church yesterday. I don't think that the reaction they provoked from me was necessarily in keeping with the spirit of what the Rector was preaching - I've been over the Gospels a number of times in my life and I don't recall anything about the blessedness of desiring to boil one's loved ones in oil.

So far, my defense has been to advocate the rights of our current cat, Jenny. I have pointed out that a) she is very small, b) she is de-clawed, c) at nine years old, she is getting to be middle-aged and d) she has given no indication whatsoever of being at all lonely since our other cat Jeeves died last spring.

The rebuttal is that this new cat, named Bella, is a sweet-natured animal who is used to being around other cats, has lived in harmony with de-clawed animals and has even gone so far as to adopt a litter of kittens that were not her own. Of course, this is only a partial defense: while it may indicate that Bella is not likely to savage Jenny, it doesn't address the issue of whether Jenny would actually want her around.

Nonetheless, just to show you how weak I really am, I seem to have gone from "Absolutely not," on Saturday to, "Well, only if we can send her back if things don't work out," this afternoon.

Grrrrr, I say.

For someone who really doesn't like cats, I sure have to spend an awful lot of time around them.

UPDATE: Well, Bella is coming tomorrow for a two week trial. It turns out she's actually under the jurisdiction of the Noah's Ark Foundation, a sort of pet halfway house.

Posted by Robert at 05:43 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Oh my

I just hate it when stuff like this happens....

Posted by Steve at 05:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous One Word Netflix Movie Reviews

Sahara: Eh.

Being John Malkovich: Heh.


Posted by Robert at 04:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Geez, you stay out of blogworld for a week and you miss tectonic shifts in history

Oh my.

Posted by Steve at 03:30 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Cindy Sheehan finally jumps the shark

Mother Peace accuses Bill Clinton of War Crimes.

Maybe now they'll see her for what she is.

Yeah, right.

Posted by Steve at 03:27 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Further scenes from the collapse of Amerika

The "revirginity" movement umm, steams up? Rises?

YIPS from ROBBO: What is "swells," Alex?

90120 marriage ends in divorce. Aint being 30 a bummer?

Sentences you'd never think you'd see: "Paul McCartney's wife Heather Mills McCartney lost her prosthetic leg during a violent confrontation with security guards at Jennifer Lopez's New York office."

Posted by Steve at 03:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Like Yo n' stuff

Greetings, earthlings.

To be perfectly honest, I'm feeling pretty depressed at the moment. Work has been miserable as of late, as the process of ripping apart our department proceeds unchecked by the spiteful attention-deficient powers that be. Usually, blogging has been a fun outlet for me, and I've used it quite well to channel ye olde frustrations, concerns etc. and flush them right out of the system. But for the past month I haven't had anything to say----I sit in front of the screen and nothing comes out. Oddly, this doesn't apply to professional output: if anything, I've been cranking out the work at a furious rate as of late. But blogging, not much.

The work stress (and with it the uncertainty of looking for work on the side) is compounded lately by the homefront, as the adjustment to the Rule of Four continues. Things have been going well for the big kids---the eldest just started third grade and she's having fun (although not as much as at her old school), and the big guy just started first grade, which has its own daily ups and downs. The frickin' County only alots 20 minutes for recess for them----didn't we fight a Revolution against the Hanoverian kings to stop such nonsense? (Sorry, Rob, I realize the Revolution is still a touchy subject). Last week was made long by parent events almost every night of the week, including my favorite "parent night" at school, which featured a 45 minute powerpoint presentation from the principal. I'd like to personally strangle the inventor of powerpoint, burn their house down, and murder their cats: in the hands of the officious, it is an instrument of torture worthy of Torquemada. Forget hookers, panty hats and tarty pop music as things to "soften up" the detainees at Gitmo: how about 45 minutes with your typical elementary school bureaucrat with an animated powerpoint about strategic goal implementation, while sitting them on metal chairs in an unairconditioned gym. You'd have them screaming out Osama's Netflix account habits in no time flat.

The worst thing about last week though was the first Cub Scouts meeting. Now, Scouting was an important part of growing up for me, and I had always looked forward as something to share it with my kids. We get to the meeting, and first of all there's about 30 minutes of purely administrative stuff for the grown-ups. Okay, because the kids are doing some organized activity? Nope, they're just sitting there, bored to tears. This is followed by their first introduction to Scouting values.....................the introduction of the peanut/popcorn sales. Here's the kicker: if they don't sell $200 worth (and hint hint wink wink we all know its the parents who get the suckers at work to buy this crap), their den doesn't get a pizza party. And the kid who sells the most gets an X-Box, with the runner-up getting $100. What the fuck is up with that? What type of lessons/values are you teaching the kids with that? And what the heck are you teaching the kids with all the opportunities to raise money for Hurricane Relief (hey, how about adopting a troop/pack in that area and raising money so they can get supplies), or how about "how can you as a scout help your family prepare for natural disasters?) it's get your parents to cut a big fat check because it's all about the Benjamins.

But wait, it got worse.

After that, they sent the kids outside to run around, and then came back in for the learning exercise which was...................a member of the county's SWAT team complete with all his gear: M4, HK submachine gun, bags for flashbangs, etc. etc. etc. etc. Yep, six year olds really need to hear about "dynamic entry raids on drug houses"--this in a county where they are more likely to arrest some jethros for moonshining than anything.

I was in the Scouts in an area that was very pro-military, and the leadership was heavily influenced from the Marines, Navy, and Coasties, with the occasional odd Army type. And the little kids were NEVER exposed to anything like this: the closest would be as Webelos, we toured a nuclear sub (one of the kid's dad was the XO or something). But never something like this, up close and personal (I'm not counting visits from a Civil War/Revolutionary War type dude firing off a Brown Bess in the parking lot: don't try to go all Glenn Reynolds or I'm going to have to come over and womp your arse). Just ENTIRELY age-inappropriate for 6 year olds.

The fun has come from Robbo's god-daughter, who is packing the full value of being two into her last pre-birthday weeks. Basically, whatever I do I'm "MEAAAANNNN!" Now, I realize she's two and I'm 39, so absorb it, laugh, and do your thing. Which is the usual operating procedure. It's just lately, with patience and good cheer ground to a fine pulp at work it makes it a little much sometimes.

That, and the little guy who decided 7 1/2 months was the perfect time to start crawling like a demon-possessed crab out to snag an entire jar of Baco-bits trailing from the non-chalant picnic basket of the doomed.

So that's me as of late---tired, somewhat cranky at times, with chances of extreme bouts of crying followed by catatonic paralysis later in the week.

Back to your regular programming.

And is it just me, or do you like INDC Bill's "White Album" phase?

Posted by Steve at 03:03 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Daily Dose of Tolkien Geekery

Gary the Tolkien Geek posted on two more chapters of FOTR over the weekend:

Book I, Chapter 9 - At the Sign of the Prancing Pony and

Book I, Chapter 10 - Strider.

Allow me, if you will, to take this opportunity to do a little anti-Peter Jackson ranting.

In the book, Tolkien sets up the scene at the Prancing Pony as a kind of transition point, an overlap between the comfortable security of the Shire known to the hobbits and the Big Bad World on the outside. Barliman Butterbur, as proprietor of the Pony, has one foot in both worlds. I have always found him a humorous and delightful character. Of course, it is largely because of his hospitality that the hobbits let their guard down, bringing about near disaster and highlighting how closely Frodo is being pursued by the Dark Lord, even in a place of such seeming safety and comfort.

Barliman also represents one of the forces of Good. As bumbling and inept as he is, he means only the best, and in the Dark Times descending on Middle Earth, this counts for an awful lot. Indeed, there is a constant theme running through Tolkien's books about the importance of the efforts of little folk in the fight against Evil. And by "little" I don't mean "short". Rather, I mean "unimportant." Think not only of the efforts of the main hobbits, but of the other residents of the Shire - the Cottons, Fatty Bolger, the Maggots. Think also of such characters as Ioreth, Beregond and Bergil in Minas Tirith, for instance.

Jackson rolls right over all of this because he's had to so seriously condense the exposition of the story - if you've only got half an hour or so to get from Bilbo's Birthday Party to Frodo's arrival at Rivendell, you don't have time for this kind of subtlety. The Prancing Pony isn't a cheerful inn full of sights and sounds that would remind Frodo and his friends of home. Instead, it's fully within the realm of the Big Bad World. All of the Men (there are no local hobbits that I recollect) are dark, mysterious and evil. Butterbur is just the man behind the bar, as nasty as the rest of them. Of course, in this atmosphere, it would be ludicrous for Frodo to get up on a table and sing, which is why Jackson also had to concoct a different method to get the Ring on Frodo's finger. Thus the snowball effect, which I find to be one of the inherent irritants with the movies.

Then there is Strider, to whom we are introduced in the Common Room at the Pony. Now you can argue, perhaps even legitimately, about the chops and changes in story line required to jam a thousand-odd pages of text into nine or so hours of movie. But this doesn't excuse, IMHO, mucking about with the basic personalities and motivations of the characters. Jackson starts out more or less on the same page, if you'll pardon the expression, as Tolkien, giving us The Mysterious Stranger Who Already Knows Too Much. But as the story moves forward, he serves up his own version of Aragorn, much more frail and whiney and - at times - practically paralyzed by his own weaknesses. Indeed, his subplot about Aragorn having to overcome his own fears in order to meet the Enemy is quite alien to the character Tolkien paints. Or characters, I should say, because Tolkien does a terrific job switching back and forth between Strider, the stoic Ranger and Aragorn, High King of the Numenoreans of Westernesse, both of whom are gradually revealed and blended through the course of the novel. We hates Jackson's departure from this and will be tracking it in detail as Gary progresses through the books.

Ah, that felt good!

Now, how about a little Elvish Music? Mixolydian Don has got you covered.

Posted by Robert at 01:14 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Who Ya Gonna Call?

I see where the Puppy Blender and N.Z. Bear have put together a PorkBusters Page, the idea being to gather examples of governmental spending waste and then, presumably, apply political pressure to do something about them.

Well, color me a bit cynical, but good luck with that. It's one thing to post horror stories on the 'net and something very different to follow through with political action afterwards. Also, people who may be against massive spending in principle might very well have a different opinion when it comes to such spending aimed at their own selves. And because of the way the Congressional budget process works, elected representatives are perfectly poised to decry the former while ensuring that the latter is kept up. (This, btw, isn't a Republican vs. Democrat thing. Rather, it's an incumbancy protection racket.) Given the size of the problem, I can't help thinking this project is perhaps a bit on the Quixotic side.

Then again, I remember Eddie Chiles' radio campaign back in the late 70's. It, too, started out small - an eccentric crank spouting off - but captured and crystalized the mood of popular unrest, at least in my neck of the woods. And, of course, there was the late Howard Jarvis. Sometimes it really just does take one voice shouting "Stop!" to bring about results.

So who knows?

UPDATE: Let me make clear that this is just a snap impression. I need to think on this a bit more.

Posted by Robert at 12:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Me and My Big Mouth

Well, after getting all excited last week, I suppose I hexed my teams, given that both the Nats and the Fins dropped games this weekend, the Nats' bullpen going to pieces in a couple games against the Padres they should have won and the Fins not able to hold the Jets' Chad Pennington, who seems to have gotten it back together.

What can I say? Except to point out that the mark of a true fan is not what he does when his team wins, but what he does when it loses.


Oh, and super-sekret message to The Colossus: Neener, neener, neeeeener!

Posted by Robert at 11:41 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A Little Help?

Gordon the Cranky Neocon is farting in Bill & Steve-O's general direction.

He asks a legitimate question, though. If any of you has made a Bill & Steve sighting recently, feel free to send it along and I'll be happy to post it.

Posted by Robert at 10:37 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Part 1

Yesterday I took the seven year old to a laser tag birthday party. Although I have absolutely no evidence to back it up, I am reasonably certain that the Dad turnout was rather higher for this party than it is for the average birthday gig in my neck of the woods. (Concurrently, the Missus took the other two Llama-ettes to a Gymboree birthday party. Put yourself in my shoes and think about which one you would have chosen.) There were maybe six or seven of us there and I couldn't help noticing each one sidle up to the birthday kids' parents soon after their arrival and say something like, " it okay if I play too?"

The party was held at a place called Ultrazone in Bailey's Crossroads, one of the seedier areas of the NoVA suburbs. The place is tucked down a side street next to an auto parts store and a gym. Let's just say I wouldn't especially want to be there after dark.

Inside, though, was okay. The whole thing is decked out in a kind of Futuro Apocalypse combo of black paint, faux ruins and flourescent light. The main arena is a giant room filled up by a maze of passages, corners and recesses. There are three "bases" scattered throughout the room - red, yellow and blue, corresponding with the teams into which everyone is divided. Each base has a target that, if blasted by an enemy, gives that enemy umpteen extra points. So in addition to plugging members of the other teams, part of the strategy is to attack their bases. The play area is very dark, very noisy and very disorienting.

Each player wears what amount to a pair of shoulder pads with lots of lights on them. Target sensors are set in the chest and back, and on the shoulders. The player also is equipped with a laser gun that requires two hands to fire. If you get hit in the chest or back, you're dead for ten seconds. A shoulder hit is a wound, keeping you out for five seconds. If your gun takes a hit, it also gets knocked out for a few seconds.

The Llama-ette and I were on the Red team together. She was a little unnerved by the dark and the noise the first time in - justifiably so for somebody not used to it - and when we accidentally got separated for a few seconds, she almost lost it. Fortunately, I found her again in time to avert disaster. And just to parry any accusasions that I only went to this party so that I could play, I will say that I knew perfectly well that she would have had a miserable time if she'd been there all by herself and that this was one of those situations where having Dad at her side to hold her hand and give her a boost of confidence was exactly what the doctor ordered.

But that didn't mean that I couldn't get into the game, too. I found that I had two main problems playing: the first was that the Dads, being so much taller than the kids, made natural priority targets. The second was that I could never remember that once one scored a kill on somebody, the victim was only out of the game for ten seconds - several times I popped a bad guy and passed on, only to get shot in the back a few seconds later because I'd forgotten about them. For some reason or other, the smaller boys seemed especially adept at this mode of warfare.

We played two rounds. You can imagine what the first round was like: Pandemonium, with lots and lots of friendly-fire incidents as everybody pretty much shot at anything that moved. The Llama-ette and I spent a lot of time apparently running around in aimless circles. As we moved about, several of her friends on the Red Team attached themselves to us, so that in the end we made a pretty impressive strike force when we came rolling around a corner. We even took out one of the other team's bases. However, as it was dark as hell in there and I have rather poor night-vision, I spent most of my concentration and energy just trying to keep track of the gel.

The second round, the Llama-ette and I decided we were going to be a little more organized and play some defense. So we stationed ourselves around a corner from each other on the two approaches to the Red Base, covering the fronts and watching each other's back. As before, every now and again one of our team members would come along and join us, so that we eventually had quite the little garrison. This worked out just fine. Instead of constantly having to ask where the gel was, I found myself saying soldier stuff picked up from the movies like, "Red Team! Red Team! Regroup! Three bandits coming this way! Get ready!" Occasionally, the gel would poke her head around the corner to make sure that I was still holding my position. Sometimes she also charged forward down her hall, but always fell back after snapping off some shots.

I should have mentioned that one could climb up on to platforms in various parts of the maze. Towards the end, I found myself in something of a grudge match with somebody else's Dad who was sniping at my position from a parapet about half way down the hall I was covering. I suppose I was on the verge of the old Viking berserker state, because at that point, all I was concerned about was getting him, coupled with the hope that the Llama-ette's flank wouldn't cave in behind me.

The whole game was computerized, so that after a round was over each person got a score card with a very detailed printout of hits for and against, number of shots fired, percentages of hits and so on. I will say that in the second round, I came out ranked sixth of twenty five players. Considering that I was only playing defense and did not go after any of the big-ticket points items, and also that this was my very first time trying this kind of thing, I don't think that's too shabby.

It probably would make a pacifist cringe (unless they were also a grrrl-power feminist, in which case I suppose they would be pretty conflicted), but I can also report that the Llama-ette came out well, obtaining something akin to Junior Eowyn status by the end. In the first round, she couldn't quite figure out the scoring system and got very frustrated when her gun kept cutting out. However, by the time we finished the second round, she'd gotten the hang of it, and was rightly proud of her defense of our base. "I got them, Dad! I hit those guys!" she said, eyes blazing, "That was so cool!"

Yes, I have to admit that it was.

Posted by Robert at 10:07 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 16, 2005

Gratuitous Friday Morning Small Bone Tossing

Too much time and too little to do. Wait. Strike that. Reverse it. Not much posting, I'm afraid, as I have a full plate of commitments this morning. (In fact, full to overflowing - I forgot all about a board meeting at school I was supposed to attend until it was too late.) I should have some time later on this afternoon.

In the meantime, let me just say that I did not bother to watch Dubya's speech last night, but if I can throw in my two cents on the issue of rebuilding New Orleans: the old Buck Rogers show was set primarily in "New Chicago". However, I recall that in one episode Buck had to travel down to "New New Orleans." The city was this big, sleek, glass/steel combination under a big, clear dome and set on giant piers out over the water. I think that any rebuild effort should adopt that as its model.

Just saying.

Yip at you later.

UPDATE: Oh, I forgot to mention that of course Wilma Deering should be appointed Mayor for Life.

Posted by Robert at 08:52 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 15, 2005


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The Nats just beat the Mets 6-5 in 10 innings, thereby sweeping the series and keeping their Wild Card hopes alive. As I mentioned the other day, be sure to check up with the BallWonk for all your Natty Analysis needs.


Posted by Robert at 04:53 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Catching 'Fins Fever


As I said previously, it may all very well come crashing down on us in the near future, but I just wanted to highlight what Dr. Z himself said about Miami in this week's power rankings:

This is what the new era means. The Fish are sitting on a 20-10 lead in the fourth quarter. In the old days they'd run twice, throw a safe pass that falls short of the first down, punt and buckle up to play defense and make a game of it. Nick Saban's new era Dolphins instruct Gus Frerotte to go deep on the first snap, which he does, hitting Marty Booker for a 60-yard TD. Game over. Drive safely on your way home. I mean do I ever love this kind of football.

Me, too.

Posted by Robert at 04:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Romulan Defector Relocation Program Update

Scientists at U Penn are working on a cloaking device called a plasmonic screen:

According to Dr Andrea Alu and Dr Nader Engheta, the engineers behind the project, the key is to reduce light scattering.

Objects are visible because light bounces off them; if this can be prevented and if the objects did not reflect any light, they would become invisible. The "plasmonic screen" achieves this by resonating in tune with the illuminating light.

"Plasmons" are created when the electrons on the surface of a metallic material move in rhythm. The developers claim a shell of this material will reduce light-scatter to the extent that an object will become invisible, if the light’s frequency is close to the resonant frequency of these "plasmons". In this way, the scattering from the shell effectively cancels out the scattering from the object.

How seriously cool is that?

Yips! to Scribal Terror.

Posted by Robert at 03:32 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Barrow-Wight Nights

Gary the Tolkien Geek has got his latest installment up: FOTR, Book One, Chpt. 8 - Fog on the Barrow Downs.

The episdode of the Barrow and the Wight is is, of course, the first real test of Frodo's courage alone and unaided. The fact that he resisted the temptation to simply put on the Ring and vanish is a testament to his native character and strength. It is also the first direct encounter the hobbits have with the forces shaping the history of the West of Middle Earth, instead of just being told about them by Gandalf. Also, as Gary notes, their arming of themselves with Numenorian blades at this point becomes critical to the plot down the road.

Although we don't find out much about the Barrow Downs at this point (the story still being told mostly from the hobbits' limited point of view), there is a goodish bit of information about their history in the Appendices. As Gary notes, they represent the last crumbling remains of the North Kingdom of Arnor, which split into three over issues of succession. Eventually, the Numenorians so weakened themselves through in-fighting that they were more easily overcome by the Witch King of Angmar. The Wights later appeared to occupy the Barrows and, in fact, I recall that Tolkien even gives a possible identity to the one who trapped Frodo and his companions, although I cannot recall who it was.

On another subject, in my own rereading of LOTR, I have now reached Merry and Pippin's encounter with Treebeard in Fangorn Forest. Gary mentioned in his previous post about the Old Forest that Peter Jackson had, er, transplanted Old Man Willow to Fangorn in the extended version. I suppose this is on the assumption that Old Man Willow was something akin to Fangorn's Huorns. But in the book, Merry and Pippin mention the Old Forest in comparison to the darker parts of Fangorn and Treebeard suggests that they are "something like" but that there is a difference between the two - the darkness of Fangorn being very much older and of a different origin. This makes me wonder whether Old Man Willow might not have been "possessed" by an evil spirit or spirits coming out of Angmar, thereby making him rather more akin to the Barrow-Wights than to the Huorns.

It might be a fairly meaningless distinction, but I find it rather interesting. Hey, we don't call this Tolkien geekery for nothing.

Posted by Robert at 02:27 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Polygraph Meme

Okay, you lot. It's been a while since I did one of these, but since I've already said all I really have to say about the politicization of Hurricane Katrina and I have virtually no interest in the Roberts confirmation hearings (they being all fluff and no substance), I thought I would indulge myself. Here goes:

1. I'm at my best in the early morning. False - I am not and never have been a morning person. Nonetheless, I generally get up at 5 or 5:30 in order to get an early start on the traffic. So long as everybody leaves me alone, I'm not usually known to be violent.

2. I start each day with a healthy breakfast. - False - I doubt seriously whether several cups of coffee would qualify as a "healthy breakfast". As a kid, I used to revel in Mom's daily servings of eggs over easy on toast but, like many people, I largely jettisoned this meal in college in order to grab the extra sleep. I'm basically a two-meal-a-day guy now, lunch and dinner on weekdays, breakfast and dinner on weekends. I used to be in the habit of sometimes going to only one meal on Saturdays and Sundays (dinner), but I've found in the past year or so that I simply can't do that any more and expect to function at all.

3. I'm always sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. - False - Actually, it's more like five. (See answers to Questions 1 and 7.)

4. I enjoy my job. -True - Given all the issues of confidentiality and whatnot, I really haven't been able to talk much about working for Father Justice. Which is a pity, because I really have been incredibly pleased with the change-over from an admin/contracts practice to litigation. Sure, the learning curve gives me a nose-bleed at times, but it's well worth it.

5. I get along with most everyone. -True - No, really. I am not that detestable being, a "People Person," by any stretch of the imagination. Indeed, I view the vast majority of humanity with what Mom often describes as cheerful contempt. However, I always try to treat individuals with whom I come in contact with respect and courtesy. And I think this is a far, far better way of getting on in the world than is the practice of many, many people I have seen who claim to love All Mankind but treat those immediately around them like dirt.

6. I'm looking forward to the new season of tv shows this year. False - In fact, the only show I'm genuinely looking forward to is Arrested Development, which starts this coming Monday. I tell you truly that apart from movies and sports, I really don't watch much else. (I caught the Simpsons season premier last Sunday and just shrugged.)

7. I make sure I take some time for myself every day. True - It's absolutely critical to me to set aside some alone time each day. But since I'm so busy, this usually doesn't happen until late in the evening, so I often don't get to bed until midnight.

Yips! to the Impenetrable One.

Posted by Robert at 12:56 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Weekend Edition

With the start of the new school year, weekend life at the Butcher's House is ratcheting up yet another notch. We have to juggle a violin lesson and a grown-up party Friday night, two soccer games at the opposite ends of town Saturday afternoon and three birthday parties on Sunday.

I pulled the detail to shuttle the seven year old to back-to-back parties on Sunday. The second one is a standard pool party at somebody's house - fortunately, the gel has reached that level of aquaticism that allows me not to have to watch her like a hawk the entire time. Dad can plump himself down in a comfy chair somewhere (hopefully snagging a Margarita in the process) and simply wait for the clock to run out.

But the first party will be a novelty for both of us - Ultrazone Laser Tag. I've been idly wondering whether parents will be able to get in on some of this action. Apparently, the question has been asked many times before, because here's what the proprietors have to say:

* We do the work--"WHILE YOU RELAX"! --Parents join the fun!

* We encourage the birthday child's parents to play to --FREE-OF-CHARGE, of course. They enjoy it as much as the kids!

Woo Hoo!

In the past, I might have been sorely tempted to pop the Llama-ette in the back myself. But she has been behaving so terrifically this week that I no longer have any desire to do so and will doggedly and faithfully watch her six.

I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Posted by Robert at 11:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Thanks to all of you who expressed your kind wishes yesterday. As for those of you who mouthed off instead (and you know who you are), the Scottish Dwarf will be 'round with a baseball bat shortly.

In addition to taking the coffee/aspirin/book cure, I also popped in my Netflix-supplied copy of The Commitments. What an inspired choice - just the combination of extremely Irish humor and sweet soul music one could want. Andrew Strong as Deco Cuffe looked like Meatloaf channelling Joe Cocker. And Maria Doyle Kennedy as Natalie the dark-haired back-up singer could easily find a place on our list of Flash-In-The-Pan 90's Babes. An outstandingly light, quirky and energetic flick, this one is probably well worth buying.

Posted by Robert at 08:57 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 14, 2005

Non-Posting Notice

Nothing from me today. I seem to have picked up a fever late yesterday and spent all last night with hot flashes and sweats, giving over to the chills this morning. However, I don't think it's going to last too long, and an afternoon curled up alone with juice, coffee, aspirin and a book should be sufficient to quash it.

And perhaps even listening to the sound of rain later, courtesy of Tropical Storm Ophelia. I sympathize with the LMC (who is much more directly in her path), and it's probably impolitic to say so at the moment, but the truth is that I've been hoping we might pick something up out of her for some time. My little corner of Northern Virginia hasn't seen a drop of rain in weeks and we really rather need it.

Yip at you later.

UPDATE: To quote Charlie Brown after he got hit by a line drive one time, "I'm dying and all I hear are insults!"

Posted by Robert at 11:05 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

September 13, 2005


Tropical storm warning extended north to include Virginia Beach. Disaster preparations for this Category 1 hurricane are complete here at Fort LMC-food, water, fuel, generator, etc. -- haven't gotten ammunition yet because this isn't New Orleans and this promises to be only a wind and rain event for us. (BTW the local authorities here got good press on national news when it was reported during Katrina that around here they hand out black permanent markers to the idiots who refuse to heed evacuation orders. With requests to write their names and social security numbers on themselves to make identification of the bodies easier. Barbaric, primitive, and highly effective.)

UPDATE: The headline on this morning's dead-tree edition of the local fishwrapper is "It's Not Going to Miss". The neighbors who joked my wife last weekend about my disaster prep activities are not laughing so hard now.

Posted by LMC at 09:49 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Go, Nats!

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Fellow Dee Cee Blogger BallWonk is your one-stop Nats cheerleading source. Here is his comment on the end of the recent Nats/Braves series:

But my dear reader, BallWonk does stand at his Nationals' side. He still believes. Four games back with eighteen to go? We can do that. But to do it, the Nationals are going to have to learn the lesson of the end of the Atlanta series. If you're going to score seven runs in one game and zero runs in another game, score the seven runs when your opponent scores four and none when he scores nine, not the other way around.

That was how we climbed to first place in May: Win the close ones, lose the blowouts.

It was the first of the Confucian maxims by which the Nationals must live if they are to win:

Win the close ones, lose the blowouts.

Walks and doubles.

Always send the runner.

That's it, grasshopper. Follow those rules and we will pick up those four games against whichever other member of the Keystone Kops leads the race for the dark-horse nomination today. (Florida, but wait 24 hours. It'll change again.)

And not only that, check out his excellent line o' Nats Stuff, including this bully poster:

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We're four games back in the Wild Card race and play the first of three games against the Mets tonight. I was beginning to give it up (again), but the BallWonk has got me excited again. Thanks!

Yips! to the Irish Elk.

Posted by Robert at 04:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Is It Just Me?

Or are there bugs in the 'net today? I don't seem to have any problems hitting blogspot sites, but moo-knew and some of the other domains are a real pain in the backside to load up.

UPDATE: I think Jen's right - it seems to be BlogAd-haunted sites that are the issue.

Posted by Robert at 03:08 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

More Gratuitous Llama Netflix Posting

I had promised myself that I would start Netflixing only with movies I hadn't seen before. But a sudden inspiration urged me to sneak this one into the queu:


Breaker Morant.

If you've never seen this 1980 movie, I can't recommend it too highly. It tells the stories of three members of Australia's Bushveldt Carbineers, an irregular commando unit that specialized in guerilla tactics, who were court-marshalled by the British during the Boer War for allegedly committing atrocities against the Boers, including shooting prisoners. (They were also accused but acquitted of shooting a German missionary who tried to complain about their behavior.) The lead defendant was the flamboyantly romantic Lt. Harry Harbord "Breaker" Morant - poet, adventurer and, by all accounts, rogue.

The argument at the trial wasn't so much over whether the Carbineers had taken the actions claimed - they more or less admitted it - but whether they were acting under orders. Although a good deal of the record seems to have vanished under mysterious circumstances, it seems at least plausible that they had indeed been told to carry on, but that the Brits - in the face of growing international scrutiny - decided to sacrifice them in order to cover their own backsides and to show that "something was being done" to bring about reform. (British Government post-trial behavior certainly adds weight to this suggestion.) The film definitely takes this line.

As I say, there isn't much historical record to go on. I've searched the 'net every now and again and only come up with a hand-full of tribute sites, many reprinting some of Morant's poetry.

The only traditional history I have of the Boer War is:

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The Boer War by Thomas Pakenham. It's an excellent overview, but devotes literally three sentences to the Morant trial, suggesting that Australian claims of its soldiers' innocence were overblown. Whatever the merits, this incident was significant in that it prompted the Australian Government to never again allow its own soldiers to be put under total foreign legal command.

But the history aside, this is a beautifully done movie. If you've only ever seen Edward Woodward as the Equalizer, it will open your eyes to his true range. The cinematography is, at times, breathtaking (for example, the visual pairing of the two firing squads, the Bushveldt Carbineers and the Cameron Highlanders, has always touched me), the courtroom drama is first rate and there are a couple of very good battle scenes as well. And lest you think it's all kangaroo courts and battlefield atrocities, there is also a good bit of humor in the film.

As I say, if you haven't seen it, you really should.

Posted by Robert at 01:37 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

More Rich, Tolkien Geekiness

Gary the Tolkien Geek has posted his latest entry on FOTR - Book One, Chapter 7 - In the House of Tom Bombadil.

In it, he provides a nifty round-up of theories and links surrounding the central issue of this chapter, namely, "Who the hell is this guy?"

I'd personally never given it that much thought except to suppose Tom might be one of the Maiar. But I really like Gary's theory and I especially like the way it fits in with what is right in front of you in the chapter.

Of course, if all of this is just a little too brainy, you can always go and have a look at Naughty Hobbits.

UPDATE: Spaceman Spiff in the White Tower? Don't ask, just go. Lots more here. Yips! to Mixolydian Don.

Posted by Robert at 11:24 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Post-Katrina Mau-Mauing

George Will on the "racist indifference" meme that is flaring up on the Left:

America's always fast-flowing river of race-obsessing has overflowed its banks, and last Sunday on ``This Week'' Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois' freshman Democrat, applied to the expression of old banalities a fluency that would be beguiling were it without content. Unfortunately, it included the requisite lament about the president's inadequate ``empathy" and an amazing criticism of the government's ``historic indifference'' and its ``passive indifference'' that ``is as bad as active malice.'' The senator, 44, is just 30 months older than the ``war on poverty'' that President Johnson declared in January 1964. Since then the indifference that is as bad as active malice has been expressed in more than $6.6 trillion of antipoverty spending, strictly defined.

The senator is called a ``new kind of Democrat,'' which often means one with new ways of ignoring evidence discordant with old liberal orthodoxies about using cash -- much of it spent through liberalism's ``caring professions'' -- to cope with cultural collapse. He might, however, care to note three not-at-all recondite rules for avoiding poverty: graduate from high school, don't have a baby until you are married, don't marry while you are a teenager. Among people who obey those rules, poverty is minimal.

Read the whole thing. It is undeniable that Katrina exposed some major societal cracks. Will's point is to highlight the tired old knee-jerk Leftist reaction that more money should have been and now should be thrown at the problems, and to suggest that the issues go much deeper than that and require responses on a more fundamental level - responses that encourage self-empowerment and responsibility.

In essence, this is the old give a man a fish/teach a man to fish debate. Even if this were a pure question, those of us who favor teaching face an uphill struggle in winning the trust of those we wish to help: handing out cash in various forms is an immediate, high-profile, "feel good" action, while setting up the infrastructure for self-reliance involves a lot of behind the scenes drudgery, hard work on the part of everyone involved and delayed returns. This imbalance is rich for the kind of demagoguery one would expect from, say, Ted Kennedy, and which we're beginning to see out of people even like Obama, who claims to be a "New Democrat".

But of course, there's more to it than that, because this is politics, that Hobbesian arena where Consideration Number One is self-preservation. I'm not going to go into a whole big rant on the Liberal Plantation except to say that somehow the metaphor seems even more appropriate when talking about south Louisiana. I am not talking about all Leftists here. There are plenty of good-hearted people on the Left who genuinely believe that the Welfare State and its Big Government ilk are the proper, moral response to issues of race and poverty. What I'm talking about are Lefties who recognize, but who would never openly admit, that it is not in their political self interest to promote ideas and policies that, although they would genuinely benefit the poor, would also reduce their dependancy on the government and therefore erode the Left's political base and reduce its power. To go back to the first metaphor, the guy who owns the fish market has no interest in seeing his customers turned into fishermen themselves. And if you don't think that this sort of calculation goes on way, way up in the Donk hierarchy, then all I can say is bless you for your innocence.

This is going to be ugly.

UPDATE: James Joyner reports that, at least for the moment, the public seems to be doing a pretty good job at not letting itself get caught up in the political hatchetry.

UPDATE DEUX: Brendan Miniter has more on the failure of the Big Government approach.

UPDATE TROIS: Ith passes along an article about another group suffering in the wake of the storm.

UPDATE QUATRE: On the other hand, Jim Pinkerton writing at TechCentralStation argues that the MSM was able to, if you'll pardon the expression, flood the zone and thus gain the advantage in framing the debate.

UPDATE CINQ: Go read. Yow!

UPDATE SIX: Oh, just go visit Villainous Cassandra already. She's got this thing nailed down. Click n' scroll, as they say.

Posted by Robert at 10:57 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Random Monday Night Football Observation

I sure hope ABC isn't going to do that Tim McGraw halftime roundup stunt every week.

Posted by Robert at 09:34 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 12, 2005

Duck N' Cover


Stolen directly from Drudge is this NY Post photo of Sean Penn supposedly walking the streets of NOLA with a shotgun.

One only hopes that his firearm skills are somewhat better than his seamanship.

UPDATE: Whoa, there! - Princess Buttercup is a potty-mouth! Princess Buttercup is a potty-mouth!

UPDATE DEUX: Mr. Right brings us New Orleans Rhapsody. Heh.

Posted by Robert at 02:44 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

More Katrina Cable Porn

The latest installment is up over at Wuzzadem.

[Adopt best Cameron Frye voice]: Oh, John - you're my hero!

Posted by Robert at 02:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life"

Bad news for Brian B - Suspected Volcano Forming In Oregon.

Good news for Brian B. - Perhaps the USGS might send Anne Heche to investigate.

Wipe those looks off your faces! Confess that you find Heche alluring. Confess, I say!

Posted by Robert at 01:49 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Camp HMQ

The crack young staff of the Hatemonger's Quarterly collectively rue the disappearance of the Yahoo Mail Girl and offer some plans as to what can be done about it.

SOOPER SEKRET MESSAGE TO "CHIP": We're with you on this. She were indeed a comely lass. Should we bring Evian water or Twinkies?

Posted by Robert at 01:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


He also denied drinking smoothies made from the blood of Palestinian children while delaying aid to Lousiana.

Of course, reasonable people know otherwise.

Posted by Steve at 01:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Tom Boswell---the best daily sports writer in Amerika for my money---with an interesting observation on sports attendence in the DC area this weekend topping 200,000+.

Posted by Steve at 12:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Hail to the, umm, Redskinks

Bandwagon*, Baby!

*And by Bandwagon I mean, "Hey, can we play a rookieneverplayedintheNFLwhose laststartwasagainstBoiseStateintheTidyBowl everyweek, at home? Yes? SWEET!"

(insert here the sound of Steve-O slowly banging his forehead on the lip of his computer table).

Posted by Steve at 12:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Historickal Posting (TM)


Today is the anniversary (in 1683) of the Battle of Vienna, the highwater mark of the Ottoman Turkish invasion of Europe. The city itself had been besieged by the Turk since July of that year and was near to giving in. During that time a coaltion of European forces hastily assembled to rush to its aid. The battle was capped by a genuine heavy cavalry charge led by the Polish King Jan Sobieski that caught the Turks by suprise and caused them to retreat in panic.

This battle is seen as the turning point in the Turkish attempt to conquer Europe. Although there was more fighting to come, the tide from this date flowed east, not west, and the Turks were eventually pushed back across the Danube.

(Alas, the old story that the croissant was invented by Viennese bakers in honor of the victory appears to be a myth.)

Posted by Robert at 12:52 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division

One of the benefits of being in charge of the clean up at my church's Homecoming Day yesterday was that I was able to help myself to an armload of yellow and orange mums, which I took home and planted along the front walk. Frankly, I don't especially care for mums and when I do plant them, I treat them as late annuals - just something to add a bit of color until the frost hits. But I must say that the effect this time is very nice. The autumnal colors seem to make it feel about ten degrees cooler than it actually is.

And speaking of signs of fall, after I got done planting, I had a look at the back yard. The grass needs cutting and thatching. The clover is running rampant toward the top of the hill, while the false strawberry is entrenched further down the slope. "To hell with the lawn," I said to myself, "I'm going to go watch the ball game."

It felt goooood.

Posted by Robert at 10:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)

The Offeratory Anthem at Church yesterday was a piece I've never heard before - the Halleluiah from Beethoven's lone oratorio, The Mount of Olives.

I must say, it struck me that Beethoven didn't really mean it. While the technical mastery was perfectly evident (although, as is often the case with his music, the finale was too damn long), the piece seemed to be missing a sense of spirit, the true celebration so evident in the religious music of, say, Mozart, Bach and Handel.

I recognize that I have some prejudices against ol' Ludwig Van. Part of it is a function of the historical period - I don't have much sympathy with Romantic sensibilities. But part of it is quite personally specific. Beethoven was something of a swine to just about everybody around him. Furthermore, he projected so much of his own ego into his music that I don't think there was much room left for praise of anyone or anything else. In a setting like this, which calls for the composer to put all thoughts of self aside and focus on higher things, I think this deficiency is especially evident.

Just saying.

Posted by Robert at 09:59 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)

You know, parenthood is a very curious experience.

Last week was the beginning of school for the Llama-ettes and in all the excitement and anticipation, they had been acting rather more wayward than normal. This resulted in a fair amount of Dad Losing His Temper, with all the traditional accompanying words and gestures.

I was brooding about this Sunday morning, as I don't especially like falling into this trap. While I have no qualms whatsoever about trying to run a tight ship, I recognize my inability to keep my temper in check sometimes in doing so as a personal weakness. Thus, the Psalm we read at Church jumped right out at me. I pass it on for what it's worth:

PSALM 103:8-13

The Lord is full of compassion and mercy,
slow to anger and of great kindness.

He will not always accuse us,
nor will he keep his anger for ever.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
nor rewarded us according to our wickedness.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so is his mercy great upon those who fear him.

As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our sins from us.

As a father cares for his children,
so does the Lord care for those who fear him.

It always gives me the shivers when Providence reaches out and taps me on the shoulder like that.

But some Divine carrot went with that stick as well. Yesterday was Homecoming Sunday at our Church. It's the kick off of the Church year, the traditional day for people to sign up for various activities and committees and, truth be told, a kind of general amnesty for everybody who has spent the summer shirking attendance. We celebrate it by having a big parish picnic out on the grounds after the services. (As I am on the Parish Life Committee, this was my first big project of the year.)

As far as the Llama-ettes are concerned, the alpha and omega of the day was the moonbounce. Indeed, it was practically all they could talk about for a couple of days ahead of time and as soon as we got out in the grounds they made a beeline for it.

A little while later, as I was chatting with somebody, I spotted the seven year old coming toward me with her Nats hat pulled well down over her eyes. When she got to me, I saw that her right eye was swollen shut - it turned out that she had stopped a fist with it while bouncing about.

Now, of course, these things happen. But what I couldn't get over was how calm she was about it. Normally, I would have expected her to be having hysterics, especially as she had been on a Brownie sleepover the night before and was quite tired. This tendency of hers to go ballistic has been the chief behavioral problem the Missus and I have faced with her over the years, and indeed, is one of the primary causes of my own short temper. But no, she held herself together. And even better: it turned out that the punch had been quite the accident. (I know the boy who did it - he's extremely big and strong for his age and doesn't always realize it.) Apparently, the boy immediately apologized. And my girl shook hands with him and said, "That's okay."

This is great. This is good. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your child take that next step on the path to maturity. I'm sure we'll have plenty more temper tantrums and there will be days when it seems she's actually slipping backwards, but episodes like this are what give us the energy to keep at it. I couldn't have been more proud of the way the gel handled herself.

Incidently, as we went off to find some ice, I explained that she might wind up with a black eye from the punch. At first, she was rather apprehensive at the prospect of a bruise. Later on, when it became clear that she wasn't going to get one, she was rather disappointed.

Posted by Robert at 09:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Flight 93

I watched the Discovery Channel's The Flight That Fought Back last evening. It was quite riveting, but did it strike anybody else as odd that Todd Beamer was barely mentioned at all? (I recollect only hearing his name once and none of his surviving family were interviewed.)

This seemed strange, seeing how his name has become synonymous with the passenger counter-attack against the Al Qaeda bad guys. In fact, I'd never even heard of any of the other passengers prior to watching the show last evening. I can only suppose that perhaps Beamer's family must not have wanted to have anything to do with it.

UPDATE: BTW, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

UPDATE DEUX: More praise for Flight That Fought Back from Jen and Sheila. I must say that my chief emotion after watching it (and in general reflection on 9/11) is not sorrow, it's still pure rage.

UPDATE TROIS: Flight 93 Memorial Design points straight to Mecca? Whiskey Tango Foxtrotting Foxtrot?

Posted by Robert at 08:18 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack



It all may very well end in tears as early as next week, but for the moment at least, I am going to savor the win: Miami 34, Denver 10.

Sure, you can pin it all on the heat if you like. Wusses.


UPDATE DEUX: Speaking of the 'Fins, one of the primary reasons I'm such a fan was watching the great Larry Csonka when I was a boy. Wonder what he's up to now? James Joyner reports on his latest maritime adventure.

UPDATE TROIS: Think the local press is excited? Yeah, it's all well and good, but remember that their scalping knives are still within ready reach.....

UPDATE QUATRE: Wow, even Peter King has good things to say:

I think most of us owe Gus Frerotte a big apology. We've all pretty much thought of him as a hanger-on without any real upside to help a team except if the starter (and maybe the second-stringer) got hurt. Well, watching a good chunk of Miami's dismantling of Denver, I came to realize that what is good about Frerotte is what's so good about the NFL: Guys who are given up for done don't have to believe they're really done. They can fight their way out of it and still be good if they believe in themselves.
Posted by Robert at 08:07 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 11, 2005


Today is the 43d birthday of Kristy McNichol, the up-and-coming chick of the Seventies angst series Family but whose career never quite caught on afterward. It appears the ensuing years have not been kind to her--she has pulled hard time on both Love Boat and the estrogen channels. Kristy reportedly retired from acting and with any luck will not attempt a comeback. I prefer to remember her as she was. . .

Posted by LMC at 09:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 10, 2005

The Tao of Parenthood

Grasshoppers, consider these words of wisdom from the Missus upon opening the mail today:

Another sure sign of fall: Suddenly all the birthday party invitations are for Sundays, because everybody has soccer games on Saturday afternoon.

Be the Mom.

Posted by Robert at 03:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of 9/11 and it is inevitable that time dulls the memories of what happened that day, making it all the more important that we make the effort to remember. Who can forget the sight of people leaping to their deaths from the World Trade Center towers before they fell? Or the hundreds of New York City firemen and police officers who rushed into the buildings as others ran out? How about the passengers of United Flight 93 who fought back and whose efforts led to a crash in rural Pennsylvania rather than into the Capitol or the White House? Remember the stories of servicemen at the Pentagon making their way through wreckage and burning jet fuel to lead their fellow soldiers out of the fires? The footage in its gruesome detail should be run regularly to remind us of the enemy we face and that it is just the latest in a long line of those who threatened our freedom.

A few words to remember:

“Let’s roll.”
-Todd Beamer

“The determinant in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas-a trial of spiritual resolve: the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish and the ideals to which we are dedicated.”
-Ronald Reagan

“We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."
-John F. Kennedy

“No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again. Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.”
-Franklin Roosevelt

“The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise -- with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disentrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."
-Abraham Lincoln

Posted by LMC at 11:29 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Dead Narcissistic Jackass Watch

Miss Sadie puts the smackdown on the whole Hunter S. Thompson thing.

What she said.

Posted by Robert at 09:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 09, 2005

Rich, Tolkien Geekiness

Gary the Tolkien Geek has his latest installment up:

FOTR, Book 1, Chapter 5 - A Conspiracy Unmasked.

As I may have mentioned before, this is one of my favorite chapters in the book, as it lays out in depth the bonds of friendship among the hobbits and gives us a lot of insight into their various characters. (I am one of those people Gary talks about who grumble very loudly about how all of this development got cut out of Jackson's movie.)

Oh, also some interesting Nazgul Profiling.

Go on over.

Posted by Robert at 04:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

This Explains Why Katrina Screamed "Banzai, Tovarish!!" As She Came Ashore

Katrina was the work of the Japanese Mob on behalf of the KGB and using old Soviet weather-controlling technology! No, really:

It has been established that the former Soviet Union (fSU) developed and boasted of weather modification technology during the 1960's and 70's with deployment against the United States coming in 1976 with the audible arrival of the woodpecker grid. These weather operations continue to this day.
Secretary Cohen was well-briefed on these weapons and their use by “terrorists” – in this case, the Japanese Yakuza crews who leased large strategic Russian scalar interferometers from the KGB in latter 1989. They have been engineering the weather over North America initially (and in some other places) since then, and have since become the most skilled interferometer operators on the planet. They are also being used as direct protégées by the KGB/FSB, which has moved them into the final Operations Phase of the long asymmetric war against the United States.


Go read the rest. If nothing else, there are a lot of really coo-el photographs.

Yips! to Eloise the Spitbull.

Posted by Robert at 03:24 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Repercussive Civil War Posting

In response to my post celebrating Joshua Chamberlain's birthday yesterday, blogger GroovyVic from Fiddle Dee Dee sent in this comment:

Alright, where to start. We, my husband and I, just happened to be extras in the prequel to Gettysburg, Gods and Generals. Husband met Jeff Daniels, if you look close you can even see my husband charging up the hill at Fredericksburg right behind Daniels...and Jeff Daniels, to all accounts, is a conceited snot. Stephen Lang aka Stonewall Jackson, was really nice, in fact, we have a picture of my husband shaking hands with him. I didn't get to meet anyone, but was at VMI for filiming.

Chamberlain...well, thanks to the movie "Gettysburg" no one even
remembers Strong Vincent of the 83rd PA. (The unit we portrayed, we are CW
reenactors!) "Hold the line at all costs!" Yes, that was our fearless
leader, who took over because his CO was drunk. (Coincidentally,
Vincent was born in my hometown of Waterford, PA, moved up to Erie, and the
rest is history. Look it up.)

My gripe is that all the attention is on Chamberlain! Yeah, that
bayonet charge, uh-huh, but the 83rd was a big part too. Strong Vincent's
statue is tucked down Little Round Top, it can hardly be seen!

Sorry, I'm too passionate about this stuff.

No need to be sorry. And indeed, the trouble with singling out one individual for praise is the danger of overshadowing the amazing achievements of so many others. The story of the Union defense at Gettysburg is crammed with such heroes. In any event, here ya' go:


From A Tribute to Colonel Vincent:

He passed his 26th birthday on the march to Gettysburg. It was then he uttered the words the moonlit night of July 1... what more gallant death could a Pennsylvanian desire?

At the extreme left of the Union line was Little Round Top, a rocky, mostly bald eminence on one side that rose 650 feet. General Gouvernoor K. Warren, chief engineer of the Army, saw the vital position uncovered and sent for help, sending couriers scrambling for anyone to hold the hill. One of his couriers ran into Colonel Vincent, halted at the front of the First Division.

"Where is General Barnes?" the courier asked.

"What are your orders!" was Vincent's terse reply.

"General Warren wants someone to occupy yonder hill."

"I will do so and take the responsibility."

Bypassing the protocol of command in not waiting for formal orders, Vincent gave command of the brigade to senior colonel James C. Rice of the 44th New York, and rushed to the hill accompanied by his flag bearer. Scouting out the ground, he chose for his brigade to occupy a spur in the hill that now bears his name. From right to left, his regiments were the 16th Michigan, 44th New York, 83rd Pennsylvania, and 20th Maine.

"Don't Give An Inch!"

Vincent spent most of his time on the right of his line. As the fighting escalated, the tiny 16th Michigan got into trouble. Vincent, on top of a large boulder, brandished his wife's riding crop and cried out to his men: "Don't give an inch!" (the statue of Vincent which surmounts the 83rd Pennsylvania's regimental marker by the way, shows him pulling out his sword, not holding a riding whip) As he uttered the words or soon after, a bullet tore through his thigh and groin and he fell from the rock. It fractured the thigh bone and lodged somewhere inside his body.

With reinforcements in the form of the 140th New York sent in by Warren, Vincent's line held. He was carried from the hill and placed at the Bushman farm. He expressed the wish to return home, which of course could not be done with the severity of his wound. He lingered for five days. On the evening of July 2, General Meade reccomended him promoted to brigadier general. It came down dated July 3, 1863, but it is unknown whether he ever saw it. On July 7, 1863, his soul departed this world.

So there you have it.

Posted by Robert at 02:46 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, Cardinal Richelieu


Today is the birthday (in 1585) of Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu. Think I'm going to pass up this opportunity? Not bloody likely!

Counsel: Call Cardinal Richelieu.
Judge: Oh, you're just trying to string this case out. Cardinal Richelieu?
Counsel: A character witness m'lud.
Fanfare of trumpets. Cardinal Richelieu enters witness box in beautiful robes.
Cardinal: 'Allo everyone, it's wonderful to be 'ere y'know, I just love your country. London is so beautiful at this time of year.
Counsel: Er, you are Cardinal Armand du Piessis de Richelieu, First Minister of Louis XIII?
Cardinal: Oui.
Counsel: Cardinal, would it be fair to say that you not only built up the centralized monarchy in France but also perpetuated the religious schism in Europe?
Cardinal: (modestly) That's what they say.
Counsel: Did you persecute the Huguenots?
Cardinal: Oui.
Counsel: And did you take even sterner measures against the great Catholic nobles who made common cause with foreign foes in defence of their feudal independence?
Cardinal: I sure did that thing.
Counsel: Cardinal. Are you acquainted with the defendant, Harold Larch?
Cardinal: Since I was so high (indicated how high).
Counsel: Speaking as a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, as First Minister of Louis XIII, and as one of the architects of the modern world already - would you say that Harold Larch was a man of good character?
Cardinal: Listen. Harry is a very wonderful human being.
Counsel: M'lud. In view of the impeccable nature of this character witness may I plead for clemency.
Judge: Oh but it's only thirty shillings.
Enter Inspector Dim.
Dim: Not so fast!
Prisoner: Why not?
Dim: (momentarily thrown) None of your smart answers ... you think you're so clever. Well, I'm Dim.
A caption appears on the screen 'DIM OF THE YARD'
Omnes: (in unison) Dim! Consternation! Uproar!
Dim: Yes, and I've a few questions I'd like to ask Cardinal so-called Richelieu.
Cardinal: Bonjour, Monsieur Dim.
Dim: So-called Cardinal, I put it to you that you died in December 1642.
Cardinal: That is correct.
Dim: Ah ha! He fell for my little trap.
Court applauds and the Cardinal looks dismayed.
Cardinal: Curse you Inspector Dim. You are too clever for us naughty people.
Dim: And furthermore I suggest that you are none other than Ron Higgins, professional Cardinal Richelieu impersonator.
Cardinal: It's a fair cop.
Counsel: My you're clever Dim. He'd certainly taken me in.
Dim: It's all in a day's work.

Now you can call me a geek if you want [Ed. -like they haven't before?], but one of the many things about this sketch that's always cracked me up is its accuracy - John Cleese, as the counsel, taps the bullet points that any person with a reasonable European history education would know about Cardinal Richelieu. I love it when that kind of thing gets worked in - to me, such intelligent writing compliments and enhances the other elements that make the piece so funny.

Posted by Robert at 02:19 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Fourth Circuit: Lock and Load

Jose Padilla. To quote They Might Be Giants, "Can't shake the devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

The Fourth Circuit, reversing the District Court of South Carolina, has held that Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen who joined up with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and got caught trying to sneak back into the States in order to carry on the war, may be held as an enemy combatant. Padilla had argued, and the District Court agreed, that the President did not have the authority to detain him, that his detention violated the Constitution, and therefore that he either had to be criminally charged or released.

Judge Luttig (who the LMC would like to see get tapped for O'Connor's seat) wrote the opinion:

The Congress of the United States, in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Joint Resolution, provided the President all powers necessary and appropriate to protect American citizens from terrorist acts by those who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001. As would be expected, and as the Supreme Court has held, those powers include the power to detain identified and committed enemies such as Padilla, who associated with al Qaeda and the Taliban regime, who took up arms against this Nation in its war against these enemies, and who entered the United States for the avowed purpose of further prosecuting that war by attacking American citizens and targets on our own soil -– a power without which, Congress understood, the President could well be unable to protect American citizens from the very kind of savage attack that occurred four years ago almost to the day.

Padilla tried hard to dance around some pretty strong precedent on technicalities, including arguing about the relevance of the location of his capture. He also tried the "law enforement is more appropriate" line. No dice:

We are convinced, in any event, that the availability of criminal process cannot be determinative of the power to detain, if for no other reason than that criminal prosecution may well not achieve the very purpose for which detention is authorized in the first place -- the prevention of return to the field of battle. Equally important, in many instances criminal prosecution would impede the Executive in its efforts to gather intelligence from the detainee and to restrict the detainee’s communication with confederates so as to ensure that the detainee does not pose a continuing threat to national security even as he is confined –- impediments that would render military detention not only an appropriate, but also the necessary, course of action to be taken in the interest of national security.

Emphasis mine. Translation: We're at war and you chose the wrong side, you farookin' bastard. And you got caught. Deal with it.

The whole opinion, which is not very long, is here.

Yips! to Michelle.

Posted by Robert at 01:20 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observation

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Mr. Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.

An elderly couple were handing this little opus out at the Metro this morning. They had pleasant smiles on their faces. They were neatly, if not well, dressed. From a distance, I had thought they must be distributing Kiwanas Club pig-roast fliers or something. But no - as I got nearer, I heard them repeat over and over - still smiling, "Bush and Cheney, criminally negligent....Bush and Cheney, criminally negligent."

Most of the time when people do this sort of thing, the crowd either a) ignores them altogether or b) takes whatever is being offered without comment (and often drops it in the bin a little further on). I must say that today was the first time I can remember actually hearing anybody scorning this kind of agitprop directly to the protesters' faces.

The sense I got from this infinitesimally small sampling is that ordinary folks really may not be in the mood for this kind of vitriol at the moment.

Posted by Robert at 10:22 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


Robbo----You contemptible pig! I remained celibate for you. I stood at the back of a cathedral, waiting, in celibacy, for you, with three hundred friends and relatives in attendance. My uncle hired the best Romanian caterers in the state. To obtain the seven limousines for the wedding party, my father used up his last favor with Mad Pete Trullo. So for me, for my mother, my grandmother, my father, my uncle, and for the common good, I must now kill you, and your brother.

[Steve the LLamabutcher falls to his knees]

Steve the LLamabutcher: Oh, please, don't kill us. Please, please don't kill us. You know I love you baby. I wouldn't leave ya. It wasn't my fault.

Robbo: You miserable slug! You think you can talk your way out of this? You betrayed me.

Steve the LLamabutcher: No I didn't. Honest... I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts.


[Rusty Shackleford covers his head in anticipation of more gunfire, Steve the LLamabutcher removes his sunglasses to make a wordless appeal, and the "Mystery Woman" visibly softens]

Robbo: Oh, Jake... Jake, honey...

Steve the LLamabutcher: ....who the hell is Jake?

Cue the more somber "Whatever happened to Horseshack" theme.....

Posted by Steve at 10:20 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Uh, Dear.....

The directions you gave me this morning were for the Llama-ettes' pediatric dentist, not the dentist I was supposed to go to. And they couldn't help me find the right place because they happened to be closed when I got there.

Needless to say, I didn't make it to my appointment.

I figured all this out after calling the correct dentist to explain why I hadn't made the appointment. Also needless to say, his receptionist now thinks we're a couple of complete morons.

Of course, I can never show my face there now.

Posted by Robert at 09:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 08, 2005

Sandy Get Your Checkbook

Berger to pay $50K for taking classified material.

Let's go to the videotape.*

UPDATE: Goldstein strolls down Memory Lane, too.

*If memory serves, this creation of Steve-O's led to our very first Insta-lanche.

Posted by Robert at 05:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Another Steve-O Lead?

Has APSA-Gate taken a new turn?

Our pal Gordon the Cranky Neocon went dark there for a while. Now, all of a sudden, he's posting again - at the very same time that Steve-O vanished.

Coincidence? Maybe. But maybe also, Gordo came to Dee Cee this weekend, kidnapped Steve-O and locked him in his underground PA lair, demanding that Steve start posting at his site, in addition to who-knows-what other services. After all, we do have file footage from Gordo's, em, fantasy life:


Posted by Robert at 04:52 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

This Is Gonna Be Fun.....

Image courtesy of Rocky Mountain Llama and Alpaca Association

I have to go to the dentist first thing tomorrow morning for a check-up and cleaning. The thing is, I haven't been to the dentist in a looooooong time. How long? Well, I'll only disclose that the last time I went, George Bush was the President. [Ed. - Um....Which one?] Quiet, you.

Posted by Robert at 04:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

You Want Finger Pointing? I'll Give You Some Finger Pointing.

That hive of arch-Conservative Rovian dupes, the Washington Post, has an article today that, in a sane world, would throttle the Bush-Gutted-Corp-of-Engineers-Flood-Control-Funding-To-Pay-For-Halliburton's-Iraqi-Conquest meme in its cradle. But in the Bizarro World of politics, who knows what effect it will have.

Money Flowed to Questionable Projects -
State Leads in Army Corps Spending, but Millions Had Nothing to Do With Floods

In Katrina's wake, Louisiana politicians and other critics have complained about paltry funding for the Army Corps in general and Louisiana projects in particular. But over the five years of President Bush's administration, Louisiana has received far more money for Corps civil works projects than any other state, about $1.9 billion; California was a distant second with less than $1.4 billion, even though its population is more than seven times as large.

So where'd all that money go? Oh, yeah, the pork barrel:

Much of that Louisiana money was spent to try to keep low-lying New Orleans dry. But hundreds of millions of dollars have gone to unrelated water projects demanded by the state's congressional delegation and approved by the Corps, often after economic analyses that turned out to be inaccurate. Despite a series of independent investigations criticizing Army Corps construction projects as wasteful pork-barrel spending, Louisiana's representatives have kept bringing home the bacon.

For example, after a $194 million deepening project for the Port of Iberia flunked a Corps cost-benefit analysis, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) tucked language into an emergency Iraq spending bill ordering the agency to redo its calculations. The Corps also spends tens of millions of dollars a year dredging little-used waterways such as the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, the Atchafalaya River and the Red River -- now known as the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway, in honor of the project's congressional godfather -- for barge traffic that is less than forecast.

The article notes that the Bush Administration has sought cut-backs on Louisiana Corp project funding. However -

[O]verall, the Bush administration's funding requests for the key New Orleans flood-control projects for the past five years were slightly higher than the Clinton administration's for its past five years. Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, the chief of the Corps, has said that in any event, more money would not have prevented the drowning of the city, since its levees were designed to protect against a Category 3 storm, and the levees that failed were already completed projects. Strock has also said that the marsh-restoration project would not have done much to diminish Katrina's storm surge, which passed east of the coastal wetlands.

That there were major weaknesses in the Federal government's [update clarification: and everybody else's who was involved] preparedness for Katrina seems indisputable. But the levee business has nothing to do with Chimpy McHitler and his Rovian Hoardes skimming tax money into defense contracts or Carlyle Group Basra drilling prospecti. It's a systemic failure of power, greed and politicking, much of it based in Congress. (Pop Quiz: Anybody recall what branch of the Government actually controls the power of the purse? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?)

And truth be told, I doubt if there is any real distinction between Repubs and Dems in this regard - this is what goes on here every day, and damn near anybody who expects to get reelected participates in it. Money goes where votes are to be got. This is by no means the same thing as saying the money goes where it can best be used. Results? Well, remember what P.J. O'Rourke said: Giving money and power to Congress is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

One of the Twelve Labors of Hercules (he said, radically shifting metaphors) was to clean out the extremely filthy Augean Stables in a single day. Hercules did it by diverting the course of a pair of rivers right through the stables. Will Katrina's floodwaters have the same effect on the Pork Barrel Stables? I wouldn't bet on it.

Yips! to Michael Turner.

UPDATE: James Joyner is more charitable about the decision-making process in terms of how funding choices are made. But he makes the same point about the attempt to turn bets that don't come off into political ammunition against Dubya.

Oh, and speaking of presidential politicking over all this, I think that Dick Morris is pretty, well, sleezy, but I also think he's probably right about the long-term fallout.

Posted by Robert at 02:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Crisis


Geesh. Is there anybody out there in the sports world who isn't predicting that the 'Fins will occupy the basement of the AFC East this year?

Well, they're probably right. But this brings to mind an important point about Fandome and sticking out the Bad Times. Allow me to (sort of) quote Thomas Paine, who was also a football enthusiast:

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine anti-Patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their team; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. The Pats, like hell, are not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as THE DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP should not be highly rated. New England, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to A THREE-PEAT) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER" and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.

Yes, it's tough times here at Valley Pro Player. But we Die-Hards are going to stick it out. And when the 'Fins climb back into the ranks of the Elite (which they will) and suddenly everybody loves them again, I shall go out of my way to pelt such Johnny-Come-Latelies with rocks and garbage.

And Message to all you Pats Fans: Laugh while you can, Monkey-Boys.

Posted by Robert at 01:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain


Today is the birthday (in 1828) of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a truly remarkable figure in American history. He's best known now, after the movie Gettysburg, as the Colonel of the 20th Maine who held the extreme left flank of the Union Army at Little Round Top (for which he received the Congressional Medal of Honor).* However, this wasn't his only service: prior to Gettysburg, he had seen action at the battles of Fredericksburg and Antietem as well. After Gettysburg, he led his regiment at Spotsylvania, Cold Springs Harbor and the Petersburg Campaign, during which he was breveted Brigadier General by General Grant. During the course of the war, he was wounded five or six times (including a bad wound received at Petersburg which eventually killed him in 1914) and was almost capture several times, more than once escaping in the confusion by pretending to be a Confederate officer.

Chamberlain was in command of the Union troops that formally accepted the surrender of the Confederate forces at Appomattox Court House. He caused a considerable stir by having his men formally salute the passing Rebel army:

Chamberlain felt deeply touched when he learned that he was selected to receive the formal surrender of arms and colors of Lee's army. At his request, he was reunited with the 20th Maine and members of the 3rd Brigade, whom he modestly believed should be the real recipients of this honor. On April 12, Confederate General John B. Gordon and his soldiers were met by Chamberlain and the Fifth Corps at Appomattox. Upon their arrival, the Confederates were astonished to be honorably welcomed by the marching salute. This gracious reception prompted Gordon and his soldiers to salute Chamberlain and his men in return. In his speeches and memoirs, Gordon would always remember Chamberlain as "one of the knightliest soldiers of the Federal Army."

Chamberlain wrote about this himself in The Passing of the Armies. (He wrote several other volumes of memoirs about the war that I haven't read.) The book captures both his academic training to see the Big Picture (he had been a professor at Bowdoin before the war) as well as his brand of New England Radical Republicanism. (The Chamberlains were friends with the Stowes, as in Harriet Beacher, and were prominant Abolishionists.) It also reflects his incredible love and respect for his men.

I may be mistaken, but I find Chamberlain's post-War life rather sad. It's true that he went on to become Governor of Maine and served as President of Bowdoin College. He also participated in a couple of business ventures that never really went anywhere and wound up as Inspector of Customs for the Port of Portland. The sense I get from the biographies I've read is that it all seemed a bit empty to him after the heroic glory of the war. But then, after what he had experienced, how could it not?

(* Just as an aside, I think that Jeff Daniels absolutely nailed Chamberlain's character in the movie.)

Posted by Robert at 12:08 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Tom Clancy Drool-Fest

Over at the Weekly Standard, Michael Goldfarb describes the specs of the Navy's next-generation destroyer, the DD(X).

Two word: Cooo. El.

UPDATE: Here's the Navy's page on it.

And here is Raytheon's page (the company building it).

And here's a conceptual pic:


Posted by Robert at 10:17 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Sooper Sekret Message To Karl Rove

Please tell your plants in to tone it down a bit before our cover is blown completely:

Group's TV ad uses storm's aftermath to target Roberts

The televised images of poverty-stricken evacuees from Hurricane Katrina are part of a provocative, last-minute effort by a liberal interest group to divert federal Judge John Roberts' path to confirmation as chief justice.

I mean, c'mon now.

UPDATE: And this Government Bombed the Levee thing? Now you're just showing off!

Posted by Robert at 09:50 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Virgin Netflix Review #5*

*dedicated to the inauguration of my Netflix account with movies I've never seen before

High Fidelity.jpg

High Fidelity

I was going to call this "Bridget Jones' Record Shop" but changed my mind. I had no real idea what the film was about before going into it so I was rather surprised that it turned out to be, essentially, a guy chick flick. (What would one call this? Gick flick? Bick flick? Mick flick? I dunno.)

I think I can understand why the Missus didn't really much care for the film - while she likes Cusack a lot, I can see her being put off by the movie's decidedly anti-sentimentalist tone about relationships, in particular Rob's final realization that it's time to grow up:

Rob: I'm tired of the fantasy, because it doesn't really exist. And there are never really any surprises, and it never really...

Laura: Delivers?

Rob: Delivers. And I'm tired of it. And I'm tired of everything else for that matter. But I don't ever seem to get tired of you, so...

(Well, I can't find the rest of the quote, but it expands on this idea.)

My only problem with the film is that I could never warm up to Laura. In fact, when Rob got into her car in the rain after the funeral, I half expected (and hoped) that he was going to finally dump her. I was tired of her after only a few minutes and I never quite understood why Rob wasn't. (I understand the point about recognizing and appreciating what's in front of you. But when I finally had this epiphany myself, I didn't set about trying to salvage a pre-enlightenment trainwreck of a relationship. Rather, I just kept it in mind as I moved forward.)

As for the rest of the cast, absolutely terrific. But Ian? I felt like Indy looking down into the tomb full of snakes: Tim Robbins. Why did it have to be Tim Robbins?

Oh, one other thing. Having seen the movie actually got me interested in reading Nick Hornby's book, even though it's pretty far off my usual literary path. Anybody out there read it? Any thoughts?

VERDICT: Definitely worth it. Definitely would rent it again.

UPDATE: In order to stem the flood of pro-Robbins hate mail, let me just clarify that I give him full marks as two major characters in cinematic Who's Who: Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh and Erik the Viking. But that's enough for me, thanks.

Posted by Robert at 09:28 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)

We hit a nice milestone at the Butcher's House last evening: the seven year old Llama-ette and I played our first piano duets together. In the past couple weeks, the gel has learned to read both treble and bass clefs and is even beginning to play a bit with both hands together. You can't imagine how proud I am of this.

The songs we played themselves, however, are a bit odd - strange modulations and rather ugly dissonances in the accompaniment part. They struck me as the first steps on the path that leads to that special level of Perdition reserved for lounge music. It occured to me later on that I really ought to write a few alternative pieces myself. While I have neither talent nor instruction in composition, even I could manage a Mozartian eight bar minuet for three hands.

Some day I hope to be able to play some real Mozart four hand pieces with the gel. He wrote a number of these throughout his career, all of which I've ever heard are quite good and, with some practice, well within the range of the amateur. (My book of them was autographed by Rudolph Firkusny, who I met when I was a boy.) And if Ed McMahon ever gets back to me about that sweepstakes thing and I can afford two pianos, then we can make an attempt on his sonata for two pianos in D Major, K. 448, one of my favorite pieces of keyboard music.

Posted by Robert at 08:41 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

APSAGate - Day 3

After two days of dead ends, but it looks as if the Colossus might have cracked this baby wide open.

UPDATE: Hmmmm.... INDCent Bill gets fingered and now all the content's gone from his site? Suspicious..... Possibly the work of a Jawa Fatwa?

Posted by Robert at 07:49 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Thoughts

The next time I change jobs, I must remember to pick a place that doesn't involve walking directly into the sunrise and the sunset each day.....

Posted by Robert at 07:46 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 07, 2005

In Nomine Rigatoni et Linguini et Fettuccine

A few days back we Llamas joined the ranks of Pastafarian worshipers the Flying Spaghetti Monster and our lives have been forever changed.

Well now it's time for a little missionary work! In that vein, I give you Flying Spaghetti Monster - The Game. Use your noodly tentacles to convert the kids, but stay away from the black-clad school administrators. (Hint - watch the FSM's shadow to get a sense of depth.) My first time score was 4650, with 16 Pastafarian converts which, according to the game, entitles me to entry into the Heaven of the Beer Volcano and Stripper Factory. Sweeeeet.

Yips! to Orac at Respectful Insolence.

Posted by Robert at 05:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Sandcrawler Gets Results

Terrific news: Roy Hallums, an American contractor kidnapped in Iraq last November 1st, has been freed. Dr. Rusty was the first to crack this story way back when and has been on it ever since, keeping the heat up and trying to organize relief and aid for Hallums and his family.

Never go against the Jawas.

Posted by Robert at 02:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. James Lileks

Lilkes today unleashes the terror of the Perry Head as he perfectly frames the secret, joyous miracle of day-to-day fatherhood:

If it all led up to nothing but today, that would be fine. It was an unremarkable day - but then again, when recalled in detail it seems ungrateful to ask for another. And it seems unbelievable that I’ll be granted another tomorrow as a matter of course.

Go read the rest. I suppose one of the reasons today's Bleat resonates with me is that the tale of Gnat's shots sharply reminds me of my recent experience with the Llama-ette's stitches.

BTW, what is this "Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus" of which James speaks? We're still firmly entrenched in "Barbie: The Princess and the Pauper," the soundtrack of which (merciful God in Heaven above, I can't believe I'm writing this) has actually grown on me because a) the two girls singing the main parts have well-matched voices and b) I've always particularly enjoyed Martin Short.

Posted by Robert at 02:04 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


Drudge has this poll from CNN/Gallup/USA TODAY. Only 13% see Bush as the "most responsible" for the problems in New Orleans and more than half either approve of the way he has handled the situation thus far or are neutral. In other words, the poll numbers sound alot like the President's approval numbers the week before the storm hit. Prediction: the press will give this poll as much play as the unfolding Con-Air America scandal.

Posted by LMC at 02:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, Marge Simpson


Today is the birthday of Julie Kavner, the Voice of Reason in the Simpson household. How about a few quotes, courtesy of this site?

Marge (drinking a Long Island Iced Tea): I'd like to visit that Long Island Place, if only it were real.

Marge: You know, the courts may not be working any more, but as long as everyone is videotaping everyone else, justice will be done.

Marge: You should listen to your heart, and not the voices in your head.

Marge: Homer, I thought our marriage could survive anything, but last night, you not only crossed the line, you threw up on it.

Marge: Bart, stop pestering Satan!

Marge: You like Shake n' Bake. You used to put it in your coffee.

Marge: Homer! There's someone here who can help you...
Homer: Is it Batman?
Marge: No, he's a scientist.
Homer: Batman's a scientist?!
Marge: It's not Batman!

Marge: This is the worst thing you've ever done.
Homer: You say that so often that it lost its meaning.

Marge: Homer, is this how you pictured married life?
Homer: Yeah, pretty much, except we drove around in a van solving mysteries.

Marge; Grandpa, are you sitting on the apple pie?
Grandpa: I sure hope so...

Marge: Grandpa, this flag only has 49 stars on it
Grandpa: I'll be deep in the cold, cold ground before I recognize Missourah!

Abe: That doll is EVIL, I tells ya. Evil! Eeeeeeviillll!!!
Marge: Grandpa, you said that about all the presents.
Abe: I just want attention.

(BTW, I am old enough to remember Kavner as Brenda Morgenstern.)

Posted by Robert at 11:59 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

Tolkien Watch

Gary has his latest post up over at Tolkien Geek. This time it's FOTR, Book 1, Chapter 3 - "Three Is Company". Lots of very interesting information about the original drafts.

I love the early chapters of LOTR. Even though there are plenty of signs of the approaching epic storm, these are still seen from the hobbits' limited point of view (a point of view that will gradually widen in scope as the story progresses, of course). In the meantime, though, we are treated to things like the history of the Shire, the family squabbling among Bilbo, Frodo and the Sackville-Bagginses, trespassing on Farmer Maggot's land, the hobbit fondness for mushrooms and Fatty Bolger's fear of the Old Forest. We are also treated to the intimacy of the relationship among Frodo, Merry and Pippin (and Sam). "A Conspiracy Unmasked," in fact, has always been a favorite chapter of mine and I was much saddened by the fact that so much of this section of the story was excised in Peter Jackson's screenplay, with Merry and Pippin reduced to Beavis and Butthead status.

There is also something stirring about the beginning of the hobbits' adventure. I love in particular Tolkien's attention to the details of the weather as summer ends and fall sets in. This change in seasons (which is beginning to happen around here now) has always been the time of year when I feel most inclined to Do Something, when my interest in things is renewed and refreshed after the summer doldrums. If ever I had to set out on an epic quest myself, this would be the time of the year to do it. (This is also why I tend to reread these books in the fall, I suppose.)

Anyway, go on over and check out Gary's latest entry, as well as his previous ones. Also, it's not too late to grab your own copy of LOTR and start following along.

Posted by Robert at 11:10 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

APSA-Gate, Day 2

Yesterday, I noted Steve-O's curious failure to contact me even though he was here in town for the APSA convention over the weekend. My suspicion immediately fell on Dr. Rusty, since he had loudly advertised his intention of attending the same conference, and everybody knows that a fatwa has been outstanding against the Llamas for some time:

(Image nailed to the door of the Butcher's Shop by unknown Jawahadin.)

However, I now have a new suspect. It turns out that The Misspent One also attended the conference.

Okay, Misspent, I want to know: Where were you between the time you were ogling Bill Kristol and the time you were heckling Cornell West?

Posted by Robert at 10:39 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

More Katrina Cable Porn

Right 'cheer.

Posted by Robert at 10:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Generalists vs. Specialists Meme

JohnL over at TexasBestGrok tags me with a meme based on the writings of Robert Heinlein (who I've never read) to see if I am worthy of inclusion in the Human Race or whether, as several ex-girlfriends would argue, I am a mere insect. (I'm more familiar with the specialist/generalist distinction via the epigram of the hedgehog and the fox.)

First, the original Heinlein:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

Now the task - Bold the ones I've done:

- Change a diaper - Their name is Legion. And I never got used to it.
- Plan an invasion - Age of Empires II. British longbows rule, baybee!
- Butcher a hog - No, but I've field-dressed deer.
- Conn a ship - My dad insisted that I learn to drive the boat and navigate when I was a small kid so that, in the event something happened to him when we were out in Matagorda Bay fishing, I could get us back to port.
- Design a building - Never tried.
- Write a sonnet - A Brit-Lit major won't get you a cup of coffee, but it will impart this particular skill.
- Balance accounts - In the sense that a lumberjack balances on a rolling log floating in a river.
- Build a wall - I did some serious field-stone work at our old house. Not long ago, we noticed it was for sale again and that the ad boasted of the "professional landscaping". Heh.
- Set a bone - Never had to, thankfully.
- Comfort the dying - Never had to, thankfully.
-Take orders - I am married, after all.
-Give orders - Give? Sure. That's easy. The tricky part is seeing them executed.
- Act alone - Whenever I get the opportunity.
- Solve equations - If the nearest rest-stop is twenty miles away and you're travelling at 80 mph, will you be able to make it before your three year old pees in her undies?
- Analyze a new problem - But....HOW did your hair clip get in the toaster?
- Pitch manure - Res ipsa loquitur.
- Program a computer - When the machines rise up, I will be among the first of their victims simply because I'll waste time looking for the on/off switch.
- Cook a tasty meal
- Fight efficiently - Well, I've no military experience. But battles are fought in many more places than just battlefields.
- Die gallantly - I'd like to think that I would if ever put to it. On the whole, though, I'd prefer just to drift away quietly in my bed.

I won't tag anybody by name, but if you want to run with this one, feel free to do so. (And you know who you are.)

Posted by Robert at 10:10 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Al Franken Really Is A Big Fat Liar

When the Con-Air America scandal broke, even though I couldn't resist using his name as a joke, I didn't really believe that Al Franken should be subject to attack for it, since it appeared to be a corporate scam and he is just the on-air talent.

Well, Michelle Malkin's latest suggests (pretty damningly) that Franken, so far from being an innocent bystander, in fact was in the thing up to his neck.

At least according to the stereotype, corporate corruption is supposed to be one of those things in which only greedy capitalist-pig conservatives indulge (lefties being too high-minded for it, d'you see). That is why stories of people like the Air America crew getting caught with their hands in the cookie jar particularly delight me. Care for some crow with those thin mints?

Posted by Robert at 09:05 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 06, 2005


There has been alot of loose talk lately of shooting looters, imposing martial law, and the like. It should be remembered the federal government, unlike the States, does not have a general police power. The national government's powers come from the Constitution and the laws enacted by Congress. Consequently, your humble LMC gives as tonight's required reading: the Insurrection Act, 10 U.S.C. sections 331-335. Compare with the Posse Comitatus Act, 10 U.S.C. section 375, which effectively bars the use of federal forces for local law enforcement. You will be quizzed tomorrow.

Posted by LMC at 08:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


So Steve-O comes all the way to Dee Cee for some poli-sci wonkfest. I sit around all weekend waiting for the phone to ring. And what happens? Nothing. Nada. Zip. The sound o' silence.

My only clue is a reported Steve-O sighting by Dr. Rusty, who was also in town.

I reckon that either Steve has decided he really doesn't want to be seen in public with me, or else Rusty ran him down with the Sandcrawler while under the influence and tossed his flattened, lifeless corpse off the Key Bridge.

If you have any information that could help solve this mystery, please leave a note in the Tastee-Bits (TM) Mail Sack. I'll report any updates as I receive them.

Posted by Robert at 04:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Ace of Spades

This about sums up why I have started seething over the politics of Hurricane Katrina. Go. Read.

UPDATE: And if you haven't read his Tribes piece yet, then grab a fresh cup o' joe and head on over to Bill Whittle's place. 'Zackly.

UPDATE DEUX: Once again, Unpartisan is linking and characterizing my post as being "From the Left".

Well, if it's on the Internet, it must be true. So just let me bring to your attention two other ticking time bombs the Bush Administration continues to ignore, in part because they're too busy filling their pockets with windfall corporate kickbacks and in part because maybe they don't mind so much the potential fallout.

First, there's the Great Rift Valley in Eastern Africa. Do you know that even as you read this, tectonic forces are slowly tearing that part of the world to pieces? Sooner or later, the Golden Horn is going to be flung into the Indian Ocean and the GRV will be innundated by a new sea and the Bush Administration is not doing a single goddam thing to stop it! Why this incredible lack of concern? It's easy. That part of the world is full of Africans and endangered wildlife, two groups this racist, eco-hating Administration couldn't care less about. Plus, the creation of the new sea will make it easier for Dick Cheney's supertankers to sail up to Middle Eastern ports, there to load up on all that oil we're secretly stealing from the Iraqis.

Second, Saturn's rings may be collapsing. When Chimpy McShrub refused to join the rest of the Civilized World in signing the Kyoto Treaty, he didn't even stop to think that global warming might have interplanetary repercussions, did he? (Probably because he and Puppemaster Karl Rove were too busy sticking firecrackers up the backside of Cindy Sheehan's cute pet puppy, or something.) My Goddess! The very fabric of the solar system is changing and our "Selected Leader" has been on vacation!

Oh, I grieve for our Mother.

UPDATE TROIS: The crack young staff of the Hatemonger's Quarterly pile on with a litany of further crimes against Personanity by the eeeeeevil Chimperator.

Posted by Robert at 02:17 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Netflix Virgin Movie Review #4*

*dedicated to the inauguration of my Netflix account with movies I've never seen before


Stop Making Sense. Well, what can I say? if you like the Talking Heads (which I do), then you'll like this film. In 1984, when it was made, I recall that the TH's were more or less at the top of their game. Most of the songs from this concert appeared on their Speaking in Tongues and More Songs About Buildings and Food albums, with a smattering of additions.

One observation: Am I the only person who thinks that Tina Weymouth looks rather shy on stage? Either that or she's completely whacked on something.

I've always thought there was a trade-off when it comes to live performances of popular music. On the one hand, there is a great deal of energy flowing back and forth between the band and the audience - that's part of the experience, after all. On the other hand, often times a lot of subtlety available in studio is sacrificed in order get the song out, and the singer tends to start simply shouting. Here, for instance, I didn't much like the renditions of "Take Me To The River" or "Girlfriend is Better". On the other hand, "Slippery People" came off terrifically, in part because of the audience singing along in the chorus. And "Psycho-Killer" did too because David Byrne looked, well, like a psycho.

VERDICT: Worth it, although it might have been better to watch with a room full of slightly squiffy fans. I probably wouldn't rent it again just for myself.

(Gratuitous additional Talking Heads plug: I know a lot of people don't much like their last album Little Creatures, but I do. It is certainly more subtle and subdued than their earlier stuff, but it isn't any less clever. So there.)

Posted by Robert at 01:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Reviews - Reload!

Having run through my first clip of new-to-me movies, I find it's time to ammo up again. Here is the next selection:


Notorious, with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Well, okay, I'm cheating a bit because I have seen this, but it was ages ago. Also, the Missus never has and she mentioned it the other day.


The Commitments. My sister still raves about the soundtrack to this movie. So why not?

Kind Hearts.jpg

Kind Hearts and Coronets, with Alec Guinness. Again, I'm cheating slightly. But again, I saw this ages ago and then not all the way through. And Alec Guinness ranks in my mind as one of the most impishly funny men (when he wanted to be) every to set foot on stage or screen.


Being John Malkovich. More Cusack eye-candy for the Missus. The question in my mind is: Can Malkovich, who is a gen-u-ine top-flight American stage actor, ever break out of his Hollywood psychopath typecasting?


Sahara. Because it looks like very dumb fun, that's why.

I'll let you know what I think.

Posted by Robert at 01:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Netflix Virgin Movie Review #3*

*dedicated to the inauguration of my Netflix account with movies I've never seen before


The Awful Truth, with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne (who is quite easy on the eyes, by the way).

What a lot of fun to watch Grant and Dunne playing off each other. To me, the looks each one flashes are just as funny, if not more so, than the physical humor. Dunne maintains an appearance of good humored serenity that compliments Grant's ever changing facial expressions very nicely - I'm thinking particularly of the scene when they're watching Joyce Compton's Dixie Bell Lee do her appalling nightclub act.

Nonetheless, the physical humor is pretty funny too - particularly the recital scene and the bit where Grant is tickling Dunne from behind the door as she's trying to get rid of Ralph Bellamy's Dan Leeson.

I don't think this movie has as much wit and polish as, say, Holiday or His Girl Friday. Also, I think more could have been made out of the big scene when Dunne crashes the Vance's house pretending to be Grant's sister - the delivery didn't quite match the set-up. But these are minor quibbles. And by the end, as the clock was ticking down towards midnight and Grant kept coming to Dunne's door, I found myself thoroughly taken in by the story. Just confess you were a jerk and ask forgiveness, you fool! I kept thinking.

Oh, about the dog, Mr. Smith. His howling at Grant's piano playing reminded me sharply of Fergus, the Scottie we owned when I was growing up. He, too, would bay at the keyboard. We could never figure out whether he did this because he liked the music or because he hated it. And he was rather selective - I don't recall that he howled at Bach or Beethoven much. But Mozart set him off, as did Haydn. (I still have a collection of Haydn sonatas with teeth marks in it from the time he snapped back after I smacked him with it to try and get him to shut the hell up.) But his all-time top composer was Schumann. Mom used to serve up a rendition of Traumerei that would send the dog into absolute fits.

But I digress.

VERDICT: Well worth it. And I would definitely see it again.

Posted by Robert at 12:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hot Beverage, Meet Computer Screen

I've been steadfastly ignoring the MSM coverage of New Orleans and what Rocket Ted calls the blamegasm, but John from Wuzzadem's take on it is a keeper. Put down your coffee, close your door and enjoy.

Posted by Robert at 11:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Let's Root, Root, Root for the Home Team!


Nationals one and a half games out in the NL Wild Card race.


(With apologies to the Minister of Propoganda, of course.)

Posted by Robert at 10:52 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)

I must say that we had a really, really good Labor Day weekend. For starters, this was the first time in ages that we could open the windows and air the house out. It was also the first time in a long while that I found myself looking for reasons to go outside and do chores. The garden was positively dumbfounded by all the attention it suddenly received.

An image I'll probably always remember: We went to a pool party Saturday afternoon. The two elder Llama-ettes spent most of the time hurling themselves off the diving boards, the seven year old on the high and the five year old on the low. Every time she jumped, the five year old would flash me a huge smile and give a thumb's up. And after she came out, she would literally prance back to the board to do it all over again. Absolutely priceless.

It saddens me sometimes to think that this girl - who is posivitely the sweetest-natured child on the planet - may some day turn into a snarling, sulky teenager. Her elder sister is and always has been a tempermental sort. We're used to that. When she hits adolescence, I expect it will be just more of the same thing. Somehow, it will be harder to take with the sunny one.

Speaking of such things, the gels have been pestering me a lot lately to tell them "the old stories", in other words Greco-Roman myths. Although I am not very good at it, they prefer me to tell the tales myself rather than read them out of a book. The seven year old has been being rather troublesome the past few days (we think it is nervousness over going back to school), so I got the brilliant idea of telling her the stories of Icarus and Phaeton - as lessons about what happens when wilful children don't listen to their parents. I don't know whether the moral sank in at all, but she was agog and demanded more stories. So I told her (briefly) about Jason and the Golden Fleece, Odysseus and the Cyclops and the Trojan Horse. I really need to pull out my copy of Bulfinches' Mythology and brush up if I expect to keep pace with demand.

Speaking of nothing in particular, I took the three year old out to breakfast Saturday morning. On the way back, we popped in a Dora the Explorer CD. Now perhaps I was just hallucinating, but one of the songs - something about "what do you want to be when you grow up?" - seemed to be an almost perfect rip-off of the Blues Brothers version of "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love". I didn't enquire further, since I didn't want to confirm this badly enough to force myself listen to it again, but somebody might want to check it out.

Posted by Robert at 10:17 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Damn You, Gary!

Take a wild guess which books have suddenly vaulted back to the top of my reading list, upsetting all my other plans.

Posted by Robert at 09:19 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Nit-Picking Post

Message to the producers of The History Channel's Rome: Engineering an Empire -

Not too bad an effort, all things considered. However, one doesn't say "Imperial Empire". That's rather like saying "wet water".

That is all.

UPDATE: Tainted Bill saw the show, too. And dammit if that wasn't Buckaroo Banzai providing commentary! (I didn't much care for the Hollywood-style delivery, but I didn't make the connection and had thought it just an odd coincidence of names.)

Posted by Robert at 09:01 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 05, 2005


John Dean is listed as a witness for the minority party for the Roberts hearings, a fine example of a man trying to relive his glory days. Factoid: G. Gordon Liddy always refers to Dean on his radio talk show as "that serial perjurer John Dean" in much the same way that the legendary coach of the Redskins George Allen is said to have always referred to that team from Irving, Texas as "the goddam Dallas Cowboys."

Posted by LMC at 08:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Spicoli is on the job in New Orleans, sort of.

Posted by LMC at 09:30 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 04, 2005


Chris Dodd of Connecticut demonstrated desperation this morning during Fox News Sunday. The good senator suggested that Sandra Day O'Connor "stay on" after John Roberts is confirmed because of the Chief's untimely death. SDOC cannot "stay on" because her retirement is contingent on the confirmation of her successor. When Roberts is confirmed, Sandy is out to pasture. Chris Wallace called him on it and Dodd backpedaled sayinging "there has to be a way." The only way she could "stay on" would be for Bush to give her a recess appointment as chief justice before Tuesday, which is highly unlikely. If the libs are so concerned about a vacancy in the office of the chief justice, then I nominate former appeals court judge and solicitor general Kenneth Starr for a recess appointment as chief justice until a permanent successor is confirmed. That should give the Democrats an incentive to expedite the confirmation hearings.

Posted by LMC at 04:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


The Chief Justice died yesterday in suburban Virginia. If there was anyone on the bench who deserved a long and rewarding retirement after an exceptional career, it was him. His tenure as a justice and chief justice of the Supreme Court will ensure his place in history is secure, unlike that of many of his colleagues who served with him.

Posted by LMC at 07:22 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 03, 2005


The mayor of New Orleans has been whining about the federal response to the disaster. Drudge asks this pertinent question: why weren't the city's school buses deployed to assist in the evacuation of the city before the hurricane hit? So far, this mayor performance has been awful. Guiliani should show him how real men do it.

Posted by LMC at 03:07 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack


The Navy activated another hospital ship, Comfort's sister USNS Mercy. Comfort will arrive on station next week and Mercy in mid-September.

Posted by LMC at 12:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 02, 2005

USA v. Richard Reid

One of the other lawyers in the office passed along the imposition of sentence in the United States District Court for District of Massachusetts in United States v. Reid. Judge Young:

"Mr. Richard C. Reid, hearken now to the sentence the Court imposes upon you. On counts 1, 5 and 6 the Court sentences you to life in prison in the custody of the United States Attorney General. On counts 2, 3, 4 and 7, the Court sentences you to 20 years in prison on each count, the sentence on each count to run consecutive with the other.

That's 80 years. On count 8 the Court sentences you to the mandatory 30 years consecutive to the 80 years just imposed. The Court imposes upon you each of the eight counts a fine of $250,000 for the aggregate fine of $2 million. The Court accepts the government's recommendation with respect to restitution and orders restitution in the amount of $298.17 to Andre Bousquet and $5,784 to American Airlines. The Court imposes upon you the $800 special assessment.

The Court imposes upon you five years supervised release simply because the law requires it. But the life sentences are real life sentences so I need go no further. This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and just sentence. It is a righteous sentence.

Let me explain this to you. We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is all too much war talk here and I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court, we deal with individuals as individuals and care for individuals as individuals. As human beings, we reach out for justice.

You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too much stature. Whether it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney who does it, or if you think you are a soldier. You are not----- you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not meet with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.

So war talk is way out of line in this court. You are a big fellow. But you are not that big. You're no warrior. I've know warriors.

You are a terrorist. A species of criminal that is guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you first were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and where the TV crews were, and he said: "You're no big deal." You are no big deal.

What your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today?

I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing. And I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you, but as I search this entire record, it comes as close to understanding as I know.

It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose. Here, in this society, the very wind carries freedom. It carries it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see, that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely. It is for freedom's sake that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf and have filed appeals, will go on in their representation of you before other judges.

We Americans are all about freedom-because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties. Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms. Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here.

Day after tomorrow, it will be forgotten, but this, however, will long endure. Here in this courtroom and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done. The very President of the United States, through his officers, come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.

See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag stands for freedom. And it always will.

Mr. Custody Officer. Stand him down."

UPDATE: Judge William C. Young sits in the District of Massachusetts rather than the Southern District of New York as I originally posted. Thanks to the faithful reader who brought it to my attention.

Posted by LMC at 10:27 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

September 01, 2005

Katrina Relief


As most of you probably know already, the Blogsphere is organizing as a clearinghouse for information on how you can help in the disaster relief. Glenn and Michelle have What You Can Do round-ups. Our pal Jen does, too. Terry Teachout is keeping up a compilation of information links. Kevin at Wizbang is also seeking support for fellow Wizbanger Paul, who was left homeless in New Orleans. Paul, in turn, has some very real practical advice.

Here's my candidate for a worthy cause: The Episcopal Relief and Development Fund. Contributions will be funneled through the Diocese of Mississippi and Louisiana, and elsewhere as the need becomes apparent, in order to provide whatever on-the-ground assistance is most beneficial. Hugh Hewitt has information on some other church-based relief efforts.

Bottom line - Do what you can.

UPDATE: I read about this earlier but forgot to include it here: Our pal Michele of Letters from NYC is holding a kind of cyber-yard sale/auction in order to raise relief money. Items include her sexy voice mail greeting. From what I gather, at ten dollars a pop, she's practically giving this away.

UPDATE DEUX: Our good friends over at Apothegm Designs are throwing their services into the ring by auctioning off a custom blog make-over. Go on over and place a bid. And while you're there, ask a question that's been much on my mind - Is that Phin under the bowler?

UPDATE TROIS: NZ Bear, Old King Log of the TTLB Ecosystem, has set up a Blog for Relief site.

UPDATE QUATRE: Michele is organizing a school supply drive.

UPDATE CINQ: The folks at Wizbang are now auctioning a guest-posting gig.

Posted by Robert at 11:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Lite Labor Day Weekend Posting

Four day weekend for me - probably not much posting, but you never know, do you?

Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 05:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

One Blog To Rule Them All.

Get ready to update your blogrolls and bookmark lists, because our pal Gary the Ex-Donk has got his new blog Tolkien Geek up and running. Go on over and check out his post on the Introduction to The Fellowship of the Ring.

I hate to go all uber-geek about it, but Gary mentions that an encounter between Frodo and his friends and Ted Sandyman at The Green Dragon is included in the extended version of Peter Jackson's FOTR movie. But the warning of Sandyman that Gary quotes sounds to me much closer to that given Sam Gamgee by the Gaffer, and which the Gaffer relays to his friends in the first chapter of FOTR:

But my lad Sam will know more about that. He’s in and out of Bag End. Crazy about stories of the old days he is, and he listens to all Mr. Bilbo’s tales. Mr. Bilbo has learned him his letters—meaning no harm, mark you, and I hope no harm will come of it.

‘Elves and Dragons! I says to him. Cabbages and potatoes are better for me and you. Don’t go getting mixed up in the business of your betters, or you’ll land in trouble too big for you, I says to him. And I might say it to others,’ he added with a look at the stranger and the miller.

I think that this is an element of social stratification in this warning that the average American reader (or movie-goer) might miss. The idea that a hobbit of Sam's station is actually literate is, if not remarkable, at least unusual.

As for Ted Sandyman (the miller's son), he never meets Frodo at the beginning of the book. His tussle with Sam at The Green Dragon in Chapter 2 characterizes not only the average hobbit's lack of knowledge of the outside world, but also his refusal to accept that the outside world is starting to infiltrate the Shire itself:

Little of all this, of course, reached the ears of ordinary hobbits. But even the deafest and most stay-at-home began to hear queer tales; and those whose business took them to the borders saw strange things. The conversation in The Green Dragon at Bywater, one evening in the spring of Frodo's fiftieth year, showed that even in the comfortable heart of the Shire rumours had been heard, though most hobbits still laughed at them.

Sam Gamgee was sitting in one corner near the fire, and
opposite him was Ted Sandyman, the miller's son; and there were
various other rustic hobbits listening to their talk.

'Queer things you do hear these days, to be sure,' said Sam.

'Ah,' said Ted, 'you do, if you listen. But I can hear
fireside-tales and children's stories at home, if I want to.'

'No doubt you can,' retorted Sam, 'and I daresay there's more
truth in some of them than you reckon. Who invented the stories
anyway? Take dragons now.'

'No thank 'ee,' said Ted, 'I won't. I heard tell of them when
I was a youngster, but there's no call to believe in them now.
There's only one Dragon in Bywater, and that's Green,' he said,
getting a general laugh.

'All right,' said Sam, laughing with the rest. 'But what about
these Tree-men, these giants, as you might call them? They dos ay that one bigger than a tree was seen up away beyond the
North Moors not long back.'

'Who's they?'

'My cousin Hal for one. He works for Mr. Boffin at Overhill
and goes up to the Northfarthing for the hunting. He saw one.'

'Says he did, perhaps. Your Hal's always saying he's seen
things; and maybe he sees things that ain't there.'

'But this one was as big as an elm tree, and walking - walking
seven yards to a stride, if it was an inch.'

'Then I bet it wasn't an inch. What he saw was an elm tree, as
like as not.'

'But this one was walking, I tell you; and there ain't no elm
tree on the North Moors.'

'Then Hal can't have seen one,' said Ted. There was some
laughing and clapping: the audience seemed to think that Ted
had scored a point.

'All the same,' said Sam, 'you can't deny that others besides
our Halfast have seen queer folk crossing the Shire - crossing
it, mind you: there are more that are turned back at the
borders. The Bounders have never been so busy before.

'And I've heard tell that Elves are moving west. They do say
they are going to the harbours, out away beyond the White
Towers.' Sam waved his arm vaguely: neither he nor any of them
knew how far it was to the Sea, past the old towers beyond the
western borders of the Shire. But it was an old tradition that away over there stood the Grey Havens, from which at times
elven-ships set sail, never to return.

'They are sailing, sailing, sailing over the Sea, they are
going into the West and leaving us,' said Sam, half chanting
the words, shaking his head sadly and solemnly. But Ted laughed.

'Well, that isn't anything new, if you believe the old tales.
And I don't see what it matters to me or you. Let them sail!
But I warrant you haven't seen them doing it; nor any one else
in the Shire.'

'Well I don't know,' said Sam thoughtfully. He believed he had
once seen an Elf in the woods, and still hoped to see more one
day. Of all the legends that he had heard in his early years
such fragments of tales and half-remembered stories about the
Elves as the hobbits knew, had always moved him most deeply.
'There are some, even in these parts, as know the Fair Folk and
get news of them,' he said. 'There's Mr. Baggins now, that I
work for. He told me that they were sailing and he knows a bit
about Elves. And old Mr. Bilbo knew more: many's the talk I had
with him when I was a little lad.'

'Oh, they're both cracked,' said Ted. 'Leastways old Bilbo was
cracked, and Frodo's cracking. If that's where you get your
news from, you'll never want for moonshine. Well, friends, I'm
off home. Your good health!' He drained his mug and went out noisily.

Sam sat silent and said no more. He had a good deal to think
about. For one thing, there was a lot to do up in the Bag End
garden, and he would have a busy day tomorrow, if the weather
cleared. The grass was growing fast. But Sam had more on his
mind than gardening. After a while he sighed, and got up and
went out.

Of course, the passage also sets the stage for Sam's own awakening. And by the way, who else hasn't reread this part and wondered whether what Hal saw on the North Moor might not have been an Ent?

Sorry. Sorry. But I really love this stuff.

Posted by Robert at 02:23 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Ain't It The Truth?


Shamelessly stolen from Dave Barry.

Posted by Robert at 01:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Crew Blogging

(Image stolen from Phil Carney, just for old times' sake.)

Our pal Kathy asks in comments to the CBGB post below exactly what a coxswain is when it comes to the gentle sport of shoving an oar in the water and hauling it out again.

Ah, what indeed? Basically, the coxswain is the martinet who sits in the stern of a four or eight-oared shell, hurling abuse and insults at the poor oarsmen responsible for hauling his or her lazy ass all over the river and, nominally at least, steering the boat. (I say "nominally" because I was once in a shell that managed to ram a channel buoy despite the fact that the cox had two hundred yards' width of river to play with. And I also was witness to another cox's attempt to land a boat by pointing it at the dock at a 90 degree angle and going to ramming speed.) Coxswains also spend their time off the water hurling insults and abuse at oarsmen trying to run up hills or lift weights, usually with a stopwatch in their hands. The punchline of all of this is that the average cox weighs about 90 pounds and wouldn't last five minutes with an oar. (Our friend Muzzy of CBGB fame was unusually large. As the LB Buddy pointed out, I think he actually weighed more than I did.)

There is a tradition that when a boat wins a race, the crew gets to throw their cox into the water. Some people think this is celebratory. In fact, it is an act of pure revenge.

An eternal question of college is: does being a psych major make you crazy or do only crazy people become psych majors. Another such question applies to coxswains: does coxing give one a Napoleon complex, or do only people with Napoleon complexes cox? (Yes, I'm talking about you guys.)

Hope that helps!

UPDATE: See what I mean?

Posted by Robert at 11:34 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack



Posted by Robert at 10:20 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Musical Me-me-me

This has been floating about for a bit, but I was waiting especially for Kathy to do it so that I could pinch it from her.

The deal is to go to Music Outfitters and dial up the top 100 songs from the year you graduated from high school. Bold the songs you liked, strike through the ones you hated and leave alone those you didn't care about or don't remember. Underline the song you liked the most. (I assume this is all in the past tense. I frankly don't listen to any of this stuff anymore, except sometimes when exercising.)

I will now reveal my age by taking a peak into the deep dark vault of 1983:

1. Every Breath You Take, Police - As if there could be any question?
2. Billie Jean, Michael Jackson - Never could stand Jackson. Period.
3. Flashdance... What A Feelin, Irene Cara
4. Down Under, Men At Work
5. Beat It, Michael Jackson - Kinda takes on new meaning, doncha think?
6. Total Eclipse Of The Heart, Bonnie Tyler
7. Maneater, Daryl Hall and John Oates
8. Baby Come To Me, Patti Austin and James Ingram
9. Maniac, Michael Sembello
10. Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This), Eurythmics - Although I preferred "Would I Lie To You?"
11. Do You Really Want To Hurt Me, Culture Club
12. You And I, Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle
13. Come On Eileen, Dexy's Midnight Runners
14. Shame On The Moon, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band
15. She Works Hard For The Money, Donna Summer
16. Never Gonna Let You Go, Sergio Mendes
17. Hungry Like The Wolf, Duran Duran
18. Let's Dance, David Bowie - Where are my red shoes?
19. Twilight Zone, Golden Earring
20. I Know There's Something Going On, Frida
21. Jeopardy, Greg Kihn Band
22. Electric Avenue, Eddy Grant
23. She Blinded Me With Science, Thomas Dolby - She's tidied up and I. Can't. FIND. Anything! (Remember, this is PAST TENSE, people.
24. Africa, Toto
25. Little Red Corvette, Prince
26. Back On The Chain Gang, Pretenders
27. Up Where We Belong, Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
28. Mr. Roboto, Styx - Domo arigato!
29. You Are, Lionel Richie
30. Der Kommissar, After The Fire
31. Puttin' On The Ritz, Taco
32. Sexual Healing, Marvin Gaye - I remember the flap when this came out. Like the entire female junior high school population was suddenly going to wake up one morning pregnant.
33. (Keep Feeling) Fascination, Human League
34. Time (Clock Of The Heart), Culture Club
35. The Safety Dance, Men Without Hats
36. Mickey, Toni Basil - I dunno why. The Llama-ettes like this song.
37. You Can't Hurry Love, Phil Collins
38. Separate Ways, Journey
39. One On One, Daryl Hall and John Oates
40. We've Got Tonight, Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton
41. 1999, Prince - Sorry, I just couldn't stomach Prince.
42. Stray Cat Strut, Stray Cats
43. Allentown, Billy Joel
44. Stand Back, Stevie Nicks
45. Tell Her About It, Billy Joel
46. Always Somethmg There To Remind Me, Naked Eyes - One of the department stores - Kohl's, I think - has adopted this as their commercial jingle. Which serves it right.
47. Truly, Lionel Richie
48. Dirty Laundry, Don Henley
49. The Girl Is Mine, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney
50. Too Shy, Kajagoogoo
51. Goody Two Shoes, Adam Ant
52. Rock The Casbah, Clash - One of the all-time coo-el songs.
53. Our House, Madness - In the middle of our street, no less.
54. Overkill, Men At Work
55. Is There Something I Should Know, Duran Duran
56. Gloria, Laura Branigan - Bleh.
57. Affair Of The Heart, Rick Springfield
58. She's A Beauty, Tubes
59. Solitaire, Laura Branigan
60. Don't Let It End, Styx
61. How Am I Supposed To Live Without You, Laura Branigan
62. China Girl, David Bowie
63. Come Dancing, Kinks
64. Promises, Promises, Naked Eyes
65. The Other Guy, Little River Band
66. Making Love Out Of Nothing At All, Air Supply
67. Family Man, Daryl Hall and John Oates
68. Wanna Be Startin' Somethin', Michael Jackson
69. I Won't Hold You Back, Toto
70. All Right, Christopher Cross
71. Straight From The Heart, Bryan Adams
72. Heart To Heart, Kenny Loggins
73. My Love, Lionel Richie
74. I'm Still Standing, Elton John - Of great consolation after my girlfriend of the time gave me the boot.
75. Hot Girls In Love, Loverboy
76. It's A Mistake, Men At Work - Tell us, Commander, what do you see?
77. I'll Tumble 4 Ya, Culture Club
78. All This Love, Debarge
79. Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy, Sammy Hagar
80. Heartbreaker, Dionne Warwick
81. Faithfully, Journey
82. Steppin' Out, Joe Jackson
83. Take Me To Heart, Quarterflash
84. (She's) Sexy + 17, Stray Cats
85. Try Again, Champaign
86. Dead Giveaway, Shalamar
87. Lawyers In Love, Jackson Browne
88. What About Me, Moving Pictures
89. Human Nature, Michael Jackson
90. Photograph, Def Leppard
91. Pass The Dutchie, Musical Youth
92. True, Spandau Ballet
93. Far From Over, Frank Stallone
94. I've Got A Rock 'N' Roll Heart, Eric Clapton
95. It Might Be You, Stephen Bishop
96. Tonight I Celebrate My Love, Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack
97. You Got Lucky, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
98. Don't Cry, Asia
99. Breaking Us In Two, Joe Jackson
100. Fall In Love With Me, Earth, Wind and Fire

I'm sure I'd recognize a great many more of these if I heard them again.

Posted by Robert at 10:06 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


This is what is in store should Robbo finally make the jump to the Roman side of the tracks.

Posted by LMC at 09:28 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Netflix Virgin Movie Review #2*

*Dedicated to the inauguration of my Netflix account with movies I've never seen before.

Italian Job.jpg

The Italian Job

I have this vision of the pitch made for this film - "It'll be just like Ocean's Eleven! Except with car chases and people shooting each other!" However, having said that, I thought it was fun popcorn fare, pretty slick and at times quite clever. And at last I understand the whole Cooper Mini thing.

I've only ever seen Mark Wahlberg in one or two other films, including a certain utterly regretable disaster [Ed. - except for the really hot feral babe, of course.] He's certainly got a screen presence, but somebody needs to tell him that acting consists of more than brooding about, asking What Would Matt Damon Do? Edward Norton is, in my mind, one of the truly good young actors coming up. Frankly, I thought he was rather thrown away here as the double-crossing villain. I don't have anything to say about Charlize Theron one way or the other. But damme if Donald Sutherland isn't reaching a Kevin Bacon-esque level of ubiquity.

One thing that annoyed me about the film - I believe the whole concept and character of "Handsome Rob" was ripped off from Perfect Tommy. (The cool kids out there know exactly what I'm talking about.) There oughta be a law. Besides, there ain't room for the two of us in this here town.

VERDICT: Will I rent it again? Probably not. Overall, though, it was worth it. And now I'm quite curious to see the Michael Caine original. BTW, I notice that a sequel is in the works.

UPDATE: Lawren K. is reporting that Charlize is going to appear in this season's Arrested Development opposite Jason Bateman. I still don't care that much about her, but now I'm all excited again for the return of one of the best shows on tee vee.

Posted by Robert at 09:05 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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