August 31, 2007

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Off to the cottage for the last "official" summer weekend. Hoping to see a couple of these. Weather calls for sunny and around 80 degrees. Peeerfect.

Amston Sunset.JPG

Posted by Gary at 08:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, Dr. Montessori!


Yes, today is the anniversary of the birth, in 1870, of St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method.

It just so happens that the Missus is over at school even now getting her classroom in order. Because I am left to deal with the Llama-ettes, who for some reason seem to need to be sent to neutral corners every five minutes today, I will just repost (for the second year running) my earlier chain-jerking homage:

I take the liberty of bestowing the honorary beatification in order to jerk the chain of the Missus, who is a hard-core Montessori purist and who, when enthusing about the virtues of Montessori education, can make the Ancient Mariner seem down right tight-lipped. (She goes back to teaching lower elementary full time this fall. And in all fairness, she has a gift and an enthusiasm for it that everybody should be so lucky to have in their job.) I say "purist" because there are an awful lot of programs out there that call themselves Montessori, but in fact are not. It's from these knock-offs that Montessori gets a good deal of its reputation as a sort of hippy-dippy educational free-for-all. The main battle lines, apparently, are drawn up between the Faithful, also known as Association Montessori Internationale, started by Dr. Montessori herself, and the apostate American Montessori Society. The Missus got her Masters in an AMI program and looks on the AMS crowd rather the same way in which the Montagues viewed the Capulets or, perhaps more accurately, Rome viewed Avingon. I'm not anywhere near qualified enough to tell you the specifics of the differences except to say that the AMI philosophy includes a great deal more structured learning than its competitors.

Needless to say, all of the Llama-ettes are Montessori kids. Indeed, my five year old's teacher has remarked that she is one of the best Montessori students the teacher's seen in thirty-odd years of teaching. As far as tangible results go, the eldest Llama-ette did just fine on her first standardized achievement tests this spring, placing well above her grade level in most subjects. So we must be doing something right. (Of course, I've long harbored the suspicion that any child who a) is naturally bright and b) is properly encouraged at home can probably do just fine in any reasonably competent educational system.)

On the other hand, we've spent a great deal of time and energy organizing the Llama-ettes' bedroom and playroom in approved Montessori fashion (on St. Marie's theory that children crave structure in their lives) and the gels regulalry leave them looking as if they had been hit by an F4 tornado. So who knows.

The nine year old Llama-ette moves into upper elementary this year, while the seven year old is in the middle of her lower elementary cycle and the five year old will be the oldest in her kindergarten class. I'm quite satisfied with their levels of knowledge and academic advancement, although their bedrooms and playroom still look federal disaster areas.

Posted by Robert at 03:24 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

John Warner hangs it up

and will retire at the end of his current term. Watch for the talking heads who will lament the passing of a "moderate" (meaning country-clubber) Republican from the scene, driven to retirement by those social conservatives who, incidentially, made his election to the Senate possible. This is an opportunity for Virginia to put a reliable conservative in that seat. If so, who? Discuss.

Yips! from Robbo: I've long considered Warner's record to be strong evidence of the long-term degenerative effects of sleeping with Liz Taylor.

The folks over at NRO have been batting about the issue of who will fill his seat for a while now. The bad news is that they are pretty uniformly gloomy in their predictions.

All I can say is that if nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve.

Posted by LMC at 01:45 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Et Tu, Shylock?

Um, can we check that script again?

ASPEN, Colo. - Julius Caesar lay dead and Brutus was talking to his co-conspirators about swords and blood when he paused and excused himself, saying "I seem to have stabbed myself." Aspen actor/director Kent Hudson Reed accidently cut his leg open with the knife he was using in an outdoor performance of "Scenes from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar" on Wednesday.

He tried to carry on, "but my boot was filling up with blood and I was flubbing my lines, wondering if I was going to pass out, wondering if the audience could see the blood."

Portia (Susan Mauntel) took Brutus to a hospital for stitches and play narrator Tyson Young announced the performance was canceled.

"That's what you get for trying to kill Caesar," he said.

Reed said actors normally don't use real knives, but the scene was set up so none of the performers were close enough to hurt each other.

"But I hadn't thought an actor might stab himself," he said.

Reed said the show would go on, although Brutus might be limping for a while.

Portia? No doubt she wanted to ask the docs if she could borrow a pound of flesh.

Too bad they cancelled the rest of the performance - I was looking forward to Mark Antony brooding over Yorick's skull and Cassius watching the approach of Birnham Wood.

UPDATE: My bad. Turns out there is a Portia in Julius Caesar, a fact I certainly didn't remember and didn't bother to check before going for teh funny. Oops.

Posted by Robert at 08:10 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Diana is still dead

(to paraphrase a favorite Jack Bauer blog) as we are continually reminded at the ten-year mark. Granted, she was very easy on the eyes and had her obligatory string of pet causes. But, lest we forget, she knew what she was doing when she married into the House of Windsor. She is not the first woman to find out the man she married could be a skunk as well as a prince. I wonder if she could have diverted more of her considerable energy to rearing her sons instead of on a string of affairs, a messy divorce, lucrative settlement, and boy toys afterwards

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August 30, 2007

I Got A Baaaaaad Feeling About This

Yanks sweep the Sawx, close within five games and tie up the wild card race.

Admiral Ackbar, I'm not so sure that space station is as inoperative as we thought it was......

Posted by Robert at 05:07 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Ol' Fred Is In

Well, not yet. But he will be. Official date shortly to be announced as September 6th.

For all the frivolity we've had here the last couple of months over the impending candidacy, I want to go on record as saying I'm still in the "undecided" category for the GOP nomination (sorry, Steve-O).

Honestly, it's just too early as far as I'm concerned but I'm happy to join in the fun anyway.

draft fred thompson logo.jpg
Ol' Fred For President. Because he'll announce when he's dang good and ready! And you'll be grateful when he does.

With McCain fading, the top tier for the Republicans is Rudy, Mitt and Ol' Fred. I think any one of them would make for a strong candidate against she who will not be named.

Looks like we even get a "pre-announcement" on Leno Wednesday Night (which makes sense since at least some people will be paying attention).

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Fractured Fairy Tales, Viking Style

Don't ask, just go over to the Random Penseur's place and check it out.

UPDATE: As long as we're on puppet-posting, Lintenfiniel Jen has got a clip of shadow-puppeting to the tune of Satchmo singing "What A Wonderful World." I agree with her that the hands thing is nice, but the bunny thing made me want to reach for a rock.

Posted by Robert at 02:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Eine Kleine Sproutmusick?

Duh, Duh, Duh, Daaaahlia!

South Korean scientists, who played classical pieces including Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata in rice fields, say they have identified plant genes that can "hear".

Plants are known to respond to light, wind, and soil nutrients. Some gardeners believe flowers can be revitalised by music.

The researchers, whose work is highlighted in this week's New Scientist, say their discovery could in future enable farmers to switch specific plant genes on and off - potentially making crops flower at certain times or grow more quickly.

Mi-Jeong Jeong of the National Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology in Suwon, South Korea, and colleagues began their research by playing 14 different classical pieces to rice plants.

They monitored gene expression in the plants - the process by which their DNA code is translated into instructions for biological processes such as growth.

They found that sounds at specific frequencies - 125Hz and 250Hz - made genes rbcS and Ald more active, whereas sound waves at 50HZ made their less active.

As both are known to respond to light, they repeated the experiments in the dark and concluded the sound was causing the effect.

The researchers speculated that the production of chemicals that lead to the genetic changes they observed could be harnessed to activate other specific genes that could trigger the flowering of crops.

Other scientists were more sceptical. Martin Parry, of the Institute for Arable Crops Research-Rothamsted in Harpenden, said factors such as wind might drown out the effects of the sound.

Philip Wigge of the John Innes Centre in Norwich said he did not trust the results of the study, saying too few samples had been analysed.

I don't buy it. As it happens, I whistle all the time when I'm working in the garden (very often the second movement from Beethoven's Symphony No. 2) and I haven't seen it make the slightest bit of difference.

But perhaps the rants and tirades against the deer, the rabbits and the woodchucks that I mix in between my musickal selections fwightens the widdle flowers into shrinking back again. Maybe those South Korean scientists could start yelling at the rice in order to see if there's anything to this notion.

Posted by Robert at 01:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Civil War Blegging


Today is the anniversary of the third and final day of the Second Battle of Bull Run (or Manassas to you Southerners), fought August 28-30, 1862.

In brief, the Union Army of the Potomac under General John Pope engaged General Stonewall Jackson's Division of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia near the Warrenton Turnpike in a fight that lasted over the first two days of the battle. In the meantime, General James Longstreet's Division hurried up from the west, arriving on Jackson's right flank in time to attack Pope on the third day. Pope apparently never saw Longstreet coming and was caught between the proverbial hammer of his flank attack and the tongs of Jackson's army to his front. As a result, the Union forces were crushed, the survivors fleeing to the east. Unlike the rout following the First Battle of Bull Run, however, the Union Army was eventually able to reorganize itself under cover of a rearguard action and march away in some semblence of order. Pope, as you might imagine, was summarily booted from command afterwards.

My bleg is this: It occurs to me that of all the major battles of the eastern theatre, I don't seem to have any books specific to this one. Anybody out there have any good suggestions?

Posted by Robert at 12:24 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

That's My Church!


You may or may not have seen the nooz articles of the past few days about the nominees to fill the seat of the Bishop of Chicago, among whom is one Rev. Tracey Lind, who very much plays for the other team.

I wasn't going to post on it, because frankly I think that battle is lost. TEC has made it abundantely clear that it does not consider homosexual activity to be at odds with spiritual teachings and nothing, not the Bible, the Anglican Communion, Peter Akinola or anything else is going to alter that. Deal with it.

However, alert reader Mike sent me this article from the Catholic World News that got me all riled up again, primarily because the last paragraph hits absolutely on the head the insidious iron-fist-in-the-velvet-glove way in which TEC pushes its progressivist reeduction agenda on us backward holdouts:

The Bishop for Chicago site also includes a Bishop Search Prayer that deals graces off the bottom of the deck. An excerpt:

Give to our search committee inquiring and discerning hearts, that they may clearly see your will. Give us all the courage to dream and the will to persevere to make those dreams a reality. Fill us with your Holy Spirit and ground us in the knowledge and love of you. Empower us with the gifts of joy and wonder as we seek out the special ministry you have for us together in our diocese; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

"Give us the courage to dream ..." Methinks anyone who offers that particular prayer has all his dreams quite in order, thank you very much, and is not so much beseeching the Lord for a favor as obliquely chiding his more cautious brethren to accept the progressive vision of the future as God's will. I mean, suppose for the sake of argument God gave you the "courage" to dream that the Church should return in every respect to the way it was in 1957 -- would you have the courage to end your career by saying it?

Heh. Not bloody likely.

I see and hear this kind of language all the time these days, coming from the local parish right on up to Her Supreme Bishopressness herself. And every time I do, I have the curious sensation of being trapped in a sticky, clinging web of spun-sugar.

Sorry, but I've been in rayther a dudgeon about all this recently. Aside from the impending schism within the Anglican Communion, we're gearing up for the start of the new liturgical year and our annual church homecoming. But the only message I'm getting (and being expected to pass along) is "be nice to each other, dream your dreams and be sure to keep sending those checks to the U.N." How am I supposed to get excited when I perceive the message to be about a mile wide but about an inch deep? And when I know that any effort on my part to push for a deeper meaning will be met only by more spun-sugar?


Well, I do know that this is the year something is going to happen vis a vis Robbo's spiritual journey. Just don't know what it is yet.

Posted by Robert at 11:45 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting - "Baseball Been Berry, Berry Bad" Division


So the Nats finished up what has become the Road Trip from Hell last evening with their sixth straight loss, having been swept by both the Rockies and the Dodgers.

I was talking about this with the nine year old, thinking that perhaps it might be the perfect time to haul out one of those stock "Dad" parables about how in Life, like in baseball, one must just keep trying, no matter how bad things look at the moment. However, I think I lost my audience at "sixth straight loss" as her eyes went wide, her mouth swung open and she said, "What!!?? What's wrong with those guys??"

I seem to be making her a fan, but I'm not so sure I'm making her a better person.

Posted by Robert at 10:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Understatement Quote Of The Day

From Elizabeth Edwards:

"I want to be perfectly clear: I do not think the hatred against Hillary Clinton is justified. I don't know where it comes from. I don't begin to understand it. But you can't pretend it doesn't exist, and it will energize the Republican base."
Mrs. Edwards, you have no idea.

Nothing else may energize them, but she most certainly will.

Go, Hillary!

Posted by Gary at 10:28 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Well Played, Padre!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the superb Father M:

What to drink? While Black Velvet seems to be the official drink of Patum Peperium I thought perhaps tea might be in order. What kind of tea? Christine endorsed Assam so off I went to find Assam at the local "Whole Foods". Please note that while "Whole Foods" will valet your SUV they will not purvey Assam. Trust me-- they don't know their Assam from a hole in the wall. I was directed upon request to the tea aisle. There, rising before me, like a Canaanite altar to Baal, was an entire wall of tea: Teas to loose weight or gain health. Teas with names like Sleepy Time and Zinger, Fruity "Free and Lemon Bliss" alas, no Assam. There was even something called "Republic of Tea" which on principle was completely unacceptable. Most likely there had, at one time, been a tranquil Kingdom of Tea and then some socialist tempest-in-a-teapot came to pass and infused the Teas with a bureaucratic Tea welfare state where no one gets to spout off and everyone gets steamed, hence, no Republic of Tea for me. No Sir. I settled on a nice variety box of recognizable teas and shook the dust from my capped-toed shoes.

Go on over and read the rest. And if you are not a regular at Patum Peperium, well, you really should be: the crew of PP, under the kind but firm leadership of the spectacular Mrs. P, are teh goods.

Posted by Robert at 10:04 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The "Consensus" Is Crumbling

Not that a consensus matters much in science (there was once a consensus that the sun revolved around the earth until it was actually proven otherwise), but the much heralded consensus of man-made global warming is already starting to flip the other way.

In 2004, history professor Naomi Oreskes performed a survey of research papers on climate change. Examining peer-reviewed papers published on the ISI Web of Science database from 1993 to 2003, she found a majority supported the "consensus view," defined as humans were having at least some effect on global climate change. Oreskes' work has been repeatedly cited, but as some of its data is now nearly 15 years old, its conclusions are becoming somewhat dated.

Medical researcher Dr. Klaus-Martin Schulte recently updated this research. Using the same database and search terms as Oreskes, he examined all papers published from 2004 to February 2007. The results have been submitted to the journal Energy and Environment, of which DailyTech has obtained a pre-publication copy. The figures are surprising.

Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus. If one considers "implicit" endorsement (accepting the consensus without explicit statement), the figure rises to 45%. However, while only 32 papers (6%) reject the consensus outright, the largest category (48%) are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis. This is no "consensus."

The figures are even more shocking when one remembers the watered-down definition of consensus here. Not only does it not require supporting that man is the "primary" cause of warming, but it doesn't require any belief or support for "catastrophic" global warming. In fact of all papers published in this period (2004 to February 2007), only a single one makes any reference to climate change leading to catastrophic results.

As the fervor of such advocates as Al Gore continues to exhibit a cartoonish and evangelistic tone, more and more in the scientific community are coming to the conclusion the theory (such as it is) of anthropogenic Global Warming has jumped the shark.

In any case, whether a consensus supports it, rebuts it or remains neutral, a consensus (based on assumptions, projections and silly wild-ass guesses) is meaningless without concrete empirical evidence.

Posted by Gary at 09:50 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observation

Saw a McCain bumper sticker this morning. My first reaction was, "Oh, is he still running?"

Posted by Robert at 08:32 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 29, 2007

As The Paradigm Shifts

It used to be the road to the Presidency ran through Nashua, NH, which acted like a magnet for those seeking their party's nomination. I think it dates back to as early as the fifties when NH made such a difference. You'd see all this footage of politicians sitting in diners with rustic-looking locals, jawing about the issues of the day.

For a long time now, candidates would traditionally spend almost the entire winter prior to a Presidential election pandering to the flannel-wearing population of New Hampshire and, to be honest, I always found it kind of odd that a potential nominee had to go to so much trouble to impress one little state in order to springboard into national media recognition.


I say it's high time the process got shaken up. Now with all the early primaries, a victory or 2nd place showing in NH won't mean as much as it once did. In order to pick up delegates on the Super-duper Mega Sized Tuesday primary day on February 5th, the candidates will need to make important decisions about where their best chances are in states all over the country.

So here we are fourteen months out from November 2008 and the Manchester Union-Leader comes out with a foot-stomping editorial demanding that Fred Thompson show himself at a NH debate next month.

If Thompson announces before the debate, New Hampshire voters will expect him to be at the University of New Hampshire with the other announced candidates. A no-show will be counted here as a snub.

If Thompson waits until after the debate to make his announcement, it will appear to some as if he timed the announcement just to avoid the New Hampshire debate. That would give his foes the chance to say he is either not serious about running for the nomination or is too unprepared to be considered a credible candidate.

Politically, Thompson ought to come to the debate. Avoiding it costs him stature, which is his chief political commodity right now.

We know that state GOP chairman Fergus Cullen and the co-sponsoring FOX News team would be happy to find a spot on stage for Fred Thompson even if he announces his candidacy the day of the debate. Timing is no excuse for missing this event.

A snub? Oh dear Lord! How dare he!

Look, odds are no matter what happens between now and January Mitt Romney will win the NH primary because he's their neighbor - just like Michael Dukakis did in 1988 and Paul Tsongas in 1992. So why should Ol' Fred bother? He should be spending time in South Carolina, California, Michigan and Florida.

The Union-Leader writes "Timing is no excuse for missing this event."

Horse-puckey. If Thompson goes on to win the nomination it won't be because he did or didn't attend a debate in NH when the election is over a year away and NOBODY was paying attention anyway.

Hey New Hampshire, get over yourself. You're not the King-maker anymore. Deal with it.

Posted by Gary at 04:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Say What?


I was just over at the devil's website ordering up a copy of Chris Buckley's novel Boomsday. Scrolling down, I noticed that one of the editorial blurbs was by none other than Jessica Cutler, aka "The Washingtonienne". In her fairly faint praise of the book, Cutler says:

Yes, we know that Washington is "an asshole-rich environment," as one puts it, but some Tom Wolfe–style self-loathing might be good for characters who use the word touché.

I'm not going to rehash the, uh, back story of the Washingtonienne for those of you who haven't already peeked into that particular, ah, crack of doom, but does anybody else familiar with it find Cutler's use of that particular expression, aaah, cheeky?

Feel free to butt in!

Posted by Robert at 02:08 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack



What would we do without mathematicians?

Jessica Alba, the film actress, has the ultimate sexy strut, according to a team of Cambridge mathematicians.

The academics found that it is the ratio between hips and waist that puts the sway into a woman's walk - and the nearer that ratio is to 0.7, the better.

This ratio provides the body with the right torso strength to produce a more angular swing and bounce to the hips during the walking motion.

Therefore, a woman with a 25in waist and 36in hips would have just the right proportions to carry off a sexy swagger as she walks.

The Jessica Alba sashay beat off competition from Kate Moss, Angelina Jolie and even Marilyn Monroe, whose walk along a railway platform in Some Like It Hot is one of the most famous in film history.

While Monroe was a fraction off the target ratio with 0.69, the Cambridge team said that Alba had the perfect proportions.

I'll bet the team had no trouble whatsoever getting research assistants to crunch the data on this one.

UPDATE: Oh, heck, why not?

Posted by Robert at 12:02 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

St. Di of the Tabloids

Mark Steyn marks the 10th anniversary this week of the death of "the People's Princess" by reprinting a piece he wrote at the time:

When Tony Blair, with his usual brilliant opportunism, dubbed her “the people’s princess”, it was by implication a rebuke to those other, chillier, remoter princesses. I wonder whom he had in mind. The Princess Royal? She’s worked for years for the Red Cross and Save the Children, earned herself a place on the British Olympic team, and yet never gets into People or National Enquirer. Or the Duchess of Gloucester? Princess Alexandra? These women preside over dozens of charities, many of them unfashionable ones without photogenic moppets or cadaverous young men; they serve as colonels-in-chief of regiments in boring places far from the paparazzi’s lenses, like Saskatchewan; and in return receive nothing very much apart from the Solomon Islands Independence Medal (the Duchess of Gloucester) or the Canadian Forces Decoration (Princess Alexandra).

You can blame the photographers or the drunk driver or an irresponsible lover; you can even blame the French, under whose aegis Diana is not the only Royal (Aly Khan, Princess Grace) to die in a spectacular crash. But the Princess chose the life she led.

As a means of modernizing the monarchy, did it work? At the time of her death, the Princess of Wales was the most recognizable woman in the world and especially popular on this side of the Atlantic. One newspaper crowed that she was the “Queen of America”, but, of course, she wasn’t: America is a Republic. In the countries over which she had once hoped to reign as Queen - everywhere from Jamaica to New Zealand - the Diana years coincided with an astonishing rise in republican sentiment. The real story of her legacy is that the week before her death, support for the monarchy in Britain fell for the first time below 50 per cent; the week before that, Australia announced the start of a process to examine options to become a republic by the year 2000. A pin-up, even a saintly one, isn’t enough. Indeed, Diana’s tabloid popularity and tabloid life made serious discussion of the merits of monarchical government almost impossible. It will be the same in death.

“The English people need a light in their dark little tunnels,” the Princess said, with exquisite condescension. “I’ll be that light.” But monarchy is not supposed to be a “Candle In The Wind”. As the winds of change swirl all around, it’s supposed to be a rock, not a rock song; it represents the deep, ancient roots of society - something all the more important in a present-tense media culture. Far from taking the monarchy into the 21st century, the Princess was on course to kill it in the 20th. If we must canonize her, make her Patron Saint of Republicanism.

Read the whole thing. He updated the column a year later, suggesting the Monarchy would weather the storm better than he had feared, but I continue to have strong doubts that it will last that much longer.

Posted by Robert at 11:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review


Swingers (1996)

Okay, so I'm probably the very last guy under the age of 50 who hadn't seen this flick before. But if there is anybody else out there who doesn't yet know, this is a slight, shallow, yet fun buddy picture about a guy in his 20's out in L.A. trying to get over his heartbreak with a little help from his friends by hitting the lounge scene.

Just to show you how out of it I've been, do you know that I had always assumed that was a picture of Tim Roth on the poster/cover? Imagine my surprise to discover it was Vince Vaughn instead. And my trepidation - I don't like Vince Vaughn, especially in his current chunky-cheesy-with-extra-sideburns incarnation. However, my concerns were quickly laid to rest. As I understand it, this was his big breakout pic back in the day, and in his lean, fresh, wiseguy way he reminded me of a young Frankie (Sinatra, that is).

I really don't have much to say about the plot or the other characters, except that as to Jon Favreau, who plays the said heartsick guy, there were a couple times when I thought he was sailing straight into the Woody Allen/George Costanza shallows. Each time, fortunately, he managed to tack just in time to avoid hitting the reef of overly whiney, self-indulgent angst.

Overall, though, it strikes me that the main thing to enjoy about this film is its feel. It's fun, it's hip, it's loose and it's surprisingly sweet. And truth be told, the soundtrack had me hooked from the opening credits - I do like me some Dino.

Robbo's Recommendation: Four Yips! out of five.

Posted by Robert at 11:11 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

How Long?

Seriously, how many anniversaries of Hurricane Katrina are the media and the Democrats going to observe?

5? 10? 20? 50? What is the magic number here?

Obviously the correct answer is for however long they can milk political leverage from it.

Posted by Gary at 11:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observation

I think there ought to be a pedestrian traffic citation, coupled with an appropriate fine, for people who insist on hauling even the smallest of bags or boxes around on those damned little luggage strollers. I swear the woman whose stroller caught my shin on the metro this morning was using it to carry her purse.

Posted by Robert at 09:33 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Reason #13,461 Why John Edwards' Candidacy Is Not Going Anywhere

It's called hypocrisy.

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards told a labor group he would ask Americans to make a big sacrifice: their sport utility vehicles.

The former North Carolina senator told a forum by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, yesterday he thinks Americans are willing to sacrifice.

Edwards says Americans should be asked to drive more fuel efficient vehicles. He says he would ask them to give up SUVs.

Obviously this was a speech for an Aerospace union and not the UAW. Of course if it was the UAW, he'd probably call for scaling back NASA projects.

Typical Liberal rhetoric - change your behavior because we know what's best for you and everyone else. And this from a guy with a house that generates more power than Disney World.

What sacrifices are you making, Senator?

Posted by Gary at 08:44 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


I'm off later this morning for Chicago for the American Political Science Association meeting. Nerd factor will probably far exceed that of ComiCon, simply because there will be a much lower frequency of hot babes dressed as Star Wars Stormtroopers, and a much higher frequency of dorky middle aged men wearing dockers and arguing over statistical methodology. Good times.

And yes, I've posted this before, but it's completely appropriate:

Posted by Steve-O at 07:42 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 28, 2007

Angelina photo op

I doubt we will see her anytime soon at FOB LMC.

Posted by LMC at 10:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Seriously Gratuitous Historickal Posting

Happy Birthday, George Hoyt Whipple!

Who he? Wikipedia has the condensed version:

George Hoyt Whipple (August 28, 1878 – February 1, 1976) was an American physician, biomedical researcher, and medical school educator and administrator. Whipple shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1934 with George Richards Minot and William Parry Murphy "for their discoveries concerning liver therapy in cases of anemia."

Whipple was born to Ashley Cooper Whipple and Frances Anna Hoyt in Ashland, New Hampshire. He was the son and grandson of physicians. Whipple attended Phillips Academy and then Yale University from which he graduated with a B.A. degree in 1900. He attended medical school at the Johns Hopkins University. from which he received the M.D. degree in 1905.

After graduation. Whipple worked in the pathology department at Hopkins until he went to Panama, during the time of the construction of the Panama Canal, as pathologist to the Ancon Hospital in 1907-08. Whipple returned to Baltimore, serving successively as Assistant, Instructor, Associate and Associate Professor in Pathology at Johns Hopkins until 1914.

In 1914, Whipple was appointed Professor of Research Medicine and Director of the Hooper Foundation for Medical Research at the University of California Medical School. He was dean of that medical school in 1920 and 1921.

At the urging of Abraham Flexner, who had done pioneering studies of medical education, and University of Rochester President Rush Rhees, Whipple agreed in 1921 to become Dean of the newly funded and yet-to-be-built medical school in Rochester, New York. Whipple thus became Professor and Chairman of Pathology and the founding Dean of the new School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Rochester. Whipple served the School as the Dean until 1954 and remained at Rochester for the rest of his life. Many at the university remember him as a superb teacher. George Hoyt Whipple died in 1976 at the age of 97.

"Mmmmmkay," you say. "And?"

Well and Dad studied under Dr. Whipple at the U of R med school, eventually going into pathology himself. What the wiki entry doesn't tell you is that Whipple was also an ardent fly-fisherman, as was Dad. Dad always said that this fact was what got him into med school. The moral? Always pursue those interests - you never know what direction they're going to take you.

Posted by Robert at 12:02 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Back To School

No, not Steve and his syllabi-from-hell over at the academy.

For the youngins.

This morning, I waved g'bye to the eleven year old as he climbed aboard the bus heading off to 6th grade. In my town, we have a 5th/6th Intermediate school, so he's been spared the dreaded "middle school" experience for one more year. As of now, he's the confident and seasoned 6th grader.

My take on middle school is that - more so than high school - it's a rough couple of years because of the age. Hormones are raging out of control for the first time. Zits and braces start to appear. And the physical development of both boys and girls ranges across the spectrum for kids all the same age. If memory serves, it's probably the time when a kid will be most self-conscious about...well, everything.

This will probably be the last year that I can look on him as still a boy. After this, it will be more like young man. Bittersweet. I'll be doing everything I can to make this year move as slowly as possible.


Posted by Gary at 11:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

We Are The Woooorld

Over at Ace's place, Gabriel Malor starts a series of post on the thesis that International Law is a good thing, which Jack M. quickly smacks down.

Personally, I believe it depends on what one means by "international law". The One World/Global Village mentality, which posits that all peoples have a common set of underlying values and rights which can be overseen by a centralized world government, has generated such hopelessly bogus entities as the League of Nations, the United Nations and the like and is, imho, laughable on its face. On the other hand, bilateral and multi-lateral treaties entered into by various nations based on their mutual interests arguably do produce tangible benefits.

Not that I especially care, but it brought to mind an amusing anecdote.

Back in the days of my legal edjookation, I found myself on our school's international law moot court team (along with a certain other Llama contributor who shall go nameless just in case the Williamsburg VA police are still looking for that guy who was drunkenly slouching in the back seat of that speeding car at three in the morning). All I remember about the issue we went off to argue was that it had to do with seabed mining rights and the Law of the Sea. Because we were very much a pick-up team and nobody really seemed to give much of a damn, we decided that we would thoroughly enjoy ourselves at the tourney (thus the drunks in the car at three ack emma).

Lest you've conjured in your mind a mental image of ol' Robbo as the perpetually squeeky-clean nerd, I will candidly admit that I was still quite buzzed when I went into my first round of arguments at 7:00 in the morning. I don't recall what I said, but I do recall that my presentation was smooth and flowing. As a result, I scored quite high - something like 7th out of 40-odd overall.

Came my second round at about 1:00 in the afternoon and the tide had seriously turned. Armed with a wicked pissah hangover by then, I neither knew nor cared what my points were anymore. What was worse, I was matched up against some weedy little dork from Duke. Not only did he look just the type to think international law was exciting, he also had an extremely fabulous babe positively draped around him. This combination of iniquities proved too much for me, and my incoherent ramblings about who had what right to what material on the goddam seabed quickly tailed off into something not far from personal abuse against my opponent. Needless to say, I was among the back markers in terms of scoring the second round.

Posted by Robert at 10:34 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Flash in the Pan Despots-Central America division

The Maximum Leader gets the extradition treatment.

Posted by LMC at 10:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review


Henry IV, Part 1 (1979)

I confess that I've never actually seen a stage production of this particular history of Shakespeare's, nor have I ever read it all the way through. (I took an awful lot of Shakespeare in school, but the histories usually got tossed out of the way in favor of the tragedies and the darker comedies.) Nonetheless, I would heartily recommend this Beeb production to anybody at all interested in the Bard's historickal works.

John Finch plays Henry Bolingbroke, whose usurpation of Richard II (as those who have read that play of Shakespeare's will recall) was, shall we say, perhaps politically necessary but also of extremely dubious legality. As Henry IV, he is continually haunted by the memory, mortified that his nobles will turn on him in the same way, perhaps by way of Divine retribution. To this end, Finch is almost always rubbing his hands a la Lady Macbeth, and carries himself with a kind of haggard paranoia, sparked in no little part by his son, Prince Hal.

Hal is played here by David Gwillim (who also plays him in the Beeb series production of Henry V). Frankly, he never quite pulls off the playboy, imho, but his dawning understanding of his role as heir and future king is very nicely done. There is one scene in which old Henry dresses down Hal in no uncertain terms, pointing out that Hal's brand of public debauchery was exactly the sort of behavior that brought down Richard and did Hal really want somebody gunning for his father and himself the same way Bolingbroke had gunned for Richard? At the end of the scene, Hal is practically in tears.

Then there is Henry Percy, better known as Hotspur, played by Tim Pigott-Smith. Hotspur is, in fact, that young gun about whom Henry is so very worried, although ironically, he's also the nephew that Henry wishes were his own son. Feeling snubbed, ignored and enraged by Hal's behavior, Hotspur goes off to plot rebellion with allies in Scotland and Wales. He is, as his name implies, hot-headed, impatient and prone to shoot first and ask questions later, and Pigott-Smith (whose face you'd immediately recognize if you were at all into Brit movies in the 70's and 80's) plays him absolutely brilliantly, with a restless energy that sometimes so overwhelms him that he can't even think straight. The climactic scene at the Battle of Shrewsbury, where Hal and Hotspur face off against each other, is truly exciting and also puts on full display all the virtues and vices of this character who, as Shakespeare portrays him, may be a rebel but is certainly no villain.

This play is also our introduction to Sir John Falstaff (another brilliant performance by Anthony Quayle) and his band of rogues, minor villains and layabouts. There's no "bottom up" revisionism here, no "honest heart of the little guy" as Brannagh served up in his Henry V: Falstaff is a degenerate - an extremely amusing and roguish one, but in the end a thief, a coward, a liar and NBG to man or beast, and his rag-tag band of followers are no better. Indeed, one of the most powerful moments in the play occurs when Hal, playfully taking on the role of his own father, sits in mock judgement on his own friendship with Falstaff. The change from bawdy pot-house mockery to extremely cold and serious honesty is positively chilling. Perhaps Falstaff can never mend his ways (and as an audience, would we really want him to?), but it is also abundently clear that Hal will absolutely have to abandon him.

I mentioned above that in this series of Beeb presentations David Gwillim plays Hal not just in Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2, but also in Henry V as well. It's probably something of a cliche, but Henry V can be best thought of as Henry IV, Part 3. Many of the themes of the first two plays are carried over and, indeed, one can argue that a good bit of what happens in Henry V cannot be understood without a knowledge of the immediately-proceeding history. (For instance, when Hal drops to his knees just before the Battle of Agincourt and cries out, "Not today, Oh God, not today!" what is his primary worry? It goes back to Bolingbroke's usurpation of Richard - Hal is suddenly seized by the fear that God will use this battle against the French as the moment for retribution against Hal for his father's acts.) One actor playing Hal through all three of these plays really has a tremendous advantage in being able to develop his character in all its aspects through such a long continuity, and the audience of course benefits as well.

I haven't had a chance to watch Henry IV, Part 2 yet, but if Part 1 is any indication, it should be excellent as well. I'll let you know about the story of Henry IV's declining health, Hal's continual rise to royal bearing and the winding up of his friendship with Falstaff and his set after I do. In the meantime, I couldn't resist plugging this first installment.

Robbo's Recommendation: Five Yip! out of five.

Posted by Robert at 09:56 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Semper Paratus

Mr. Skinny (age eight & 1/2) just started third grade. As part of the first week's assignments, he had to do a little project collecting five things that represented him to the class, and do a little write up for each. He picked his ribbons he won this summer swimming and at the County Fair, his favorite science fiction book (because, as he explained, he really loves science, and he loves to read 'fake' books [as he calls fiction]), a picture he drew of himself running (he's a little Forrest Gump when it comes to running), and the last two things---which counted as #1 and #2 are in the picture below:

jm gramps antartica.jpg

That's Mr. Skinny, wearing the Red Sox cap his Gramps got him this summer, holding the picture of Gramps as a very junior Ensign in the Coast Guard talking to some Emperor Penguins on the edge of a glacier in Antartica.

So number two in the "get to know Mr. Skinny facts" is his status in Red Sox Nation. Number one is that his Gramps was in the Coast Guard.

So, Gramps, I thought you would get a kick out of that.

Posted by Steve-O at 08:36 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Bork on the Gonzales resignation

From NRO. As usual, Bork makes a number of good points, most notably that the Senate Democrats will likely condition confirmation of the new Attorney General on appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Gonzales and the phony scandal surrounding the firings of nine U.S. Attorneys. My solution: recess appointment of the new AG now. The LMC dream list: Robert Bork, Kenneth Starr, Theodore Olson, William Barr, and Richard Posner.

Posted by LMC at 08:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 27, 2007


If you need any indication of how slow August traditionally is for news all you need to do is click Drudge, Memeorandum or any political blog today. It's all-Alberto Gonzalez all the time.

In the grand scheme, what has changed?

- The Leftards are rejoicing because they feel they got a scalp (albeit a low-value target).
- Republicans breathe a sigh of relief that a man whom that even they would admit was not much more than a "Bush crony" is leaving this lame-duck Administration, soon to be replace by another one
- The average person couldn't tell you the name of the U.S. Attoney General to save their lives

The net effect - those few who actually follow such things political care to varying degrees. No one else does. The next biggest story (which more people are actually talking about at work) is last night's Teen Choice Awards.


Posted by Gary at 03:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Where's Robbo?

Have to travel to a sooper sekret non-disclosed location within the great Commonwealth of Virginny to see a man about a horse today, so little or no posty from me. Perhaps this evening.

Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 07:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 26, 2007

Ah, gun control

And no, this is not a snarky reference to the studies showing the doubling of gun violence in Britain since guns were outlawed ten years ago. It's a link to a another super-duper gun control story, the outrageous rise in machete and knife crimes in Australia.

Which is really just an excuse to post this:

Which is really just an excuse to post this:

Posted by Steve-O at 01:55 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

If you think Illinois Nazis are bad...

Try the ones from Kent.

I hate Illinois Nazis...

Which is really just an excuse to post this:

Posted by Steve-O at 11:32 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 25, 2007

Speak to us Jen!

Jen, formerly Jen speaks, has an amusing post on diaper changing. The products of my son's nether regions gave new meaning to terms such as: Containment Field Breach, Blowout, and (KMR's favorite) Love Canal.

Posted by LMC at 02:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


You know, for my money you can't get any better than this:

Fat, Old Elvis singing "In The Ghetto" in Las Vegas. Good times, mates.

STEVE-O'S CONSPIRACY OF THE DAY: We need to consider the possibility that Frank Sinatra had Elvis killed because of this:

Because, we all understand Frank dispatched Joey Bishop to off Sid Vicious because of this:

SOOPER SEKRIT MESSAGE TO PETE DOHERTY: Don't cover "My Way," mate, or the ghost of Frank is going to kill your junkie ass.

Posted by Steve-O at 09:51 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 24, 2007

Now It's Getting Ugly

Steve-O emailed me in response to my compliment earlier today on his casting of Christopher Walken and Joe Pesci as Legolas and Gimli:

Glad you liked it. All you would need to do would be to add Harvey Keitel as Boromir and you're talking movie gold....

I didn't read the email carefully enough and thought he meant Harvey Fierstein. And frankly, the image of him trying to take the Ring away from Frodo was so funny to me that while I was eventually able to wipe the coffee off my monitor, I'm probably still going to go to hell.

Posted by Robert at 03:51 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Fish Stories

Nice little piece in today's Wall Street Journal on Maine fishing camps. In particular, the article mentions the writings of one John Taintor Foote:

By the 1920s, Maine fishing camps had become well-known among dedicated anglers, and men and some women from Boston and New York made the trip by train or car. Following directions--or better still, following a guide--they traveled until the road ended; from that point, they humped knapsacks of gear and tackle through the woods to a river, where they boarded a canoe or two and paddled to the camp; if it was especially remote, the men had to carry the canoe overland to the next river.

On such expeditions it was best "to go in light"--planning one's needs so that the very minimum of clothing and equipment is carried. In John Taintor Foote's hilarious fly-fishing stories of the 1920s and '30s, various characters speak of this strategy, especially Wall Streeter George Potter Baldwin, who takes his bewildered bride, Isabelle, on a rugged, torturous honeymoon to a Maine fishing camp. Our family's camp, in fact, was originally a "honeymoon camp," an uninsulated shack built in the 1920s with wood-burning stove and interior walls that didn't reach the ceiling. Apparently, honeymooners in those days needed only the beauty of North Pond and each other.

As for Isabelle, when George tells her before the honeymoon that they're going in light, she has no idea what he is talking about, so she ignores him. As he bursts into their room at the camp's main lodge to prepare her for a fishing trip, he finds her sitting traumatized among heaps of evening dresses and shoes, petticoats, handbags and hats. When he searches desperately for the gear he's bought her--trousers, boots, waders, shirts, rod and reel--she tells him she didn't have room for them.

Being fond of a) books, b) Maine, and c) fly-fishing (in no particular order), after reading this I immediately dashed over to the devil's website to pick up a copy of Foote's fish stories. I'll let you know what I think once I read them, but at the moment I'm truly looking forward to it.

Posted by Robert at 02:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Historickal Posting (TM)


Today is the anniversary of the famous eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. that buried the nearby Roman resort town of Pompeii, together with Herculaneum, as well as heavily damaging Stabiae.

It also marks the death of Pliny the Elder, commander of the local naval fleet and student of natural history, who had himself rowed across the Bay of Naples in order to get a closer look at Vesuvius' eruption. His nephew Pliny the Younger recorded the old boy's demise:

Meanwhile on Mount Vesuvius broad sheets of fire and leaping flames blazed at several points, their bright glare emphasized by the darkness of night. My uncle tried to allay the fears of his companions by repeatedly declaring that these were nothing but bonfires left by the peasants in their terror, or else empty houses on fire in the districts they had abandoned. Then he went to rest and certainly slept, for as he was a stout man his breathing was rather loud and heavy and could be heard by people coming and going outside his door. By this time the courtyard giving access to his room was full of ashes mixed with pumice stones, so that its level had risen, and if he had stayed in the room any longer he would never have got out. He was wakened, came out and joined Pomponianus and the rest of the household who had sat up all night.

They debated whether to stay indoors or take their chance in the open, for the buildings were now shaking with violent shocks, and seemed to be swaying to and fro as if they were torn from their foundations. Outside, on the other hand, there was the danger of failing pumice stones, even though these were light and porous; however, after comparing the risks they chose the latter. In my uncle's case one reason outweighed the other, but for the others it was a choice of fears. As a protection against falling objects they put pillows on their heads tied down with cloths.

Elsewhere there was daylight by this time, but they were still in darkness, blacker and denser than any ordinary night, which they relieved by lighting torches and various kinds of lamp. My uncle decided to go down to the shore and investigate on the spot the possibility of any escape by sea, but he found the waves still wild and dangerous. A sheet was spread on the ground for him to lie down, and he repeatedly asked for cold water to drink.

Then the flames and smell of sulphur which gave warning of the approaching fire drove the others to take flight and roused him to stand up. He stood leaning on two slaves and then suddenly collapsed, I imagine because the dense, fumes choked his breathing by blocking his windpipe which was constitutionally weak and narrow and often inflamed. When daylight returned on the 26th - two days after the last day he had been seen - his body was found intact and uninjured, still fully clothed and looking more like sleep than death.

Vesuvius is still very much an active volcano. And despite the fact that the Italians have created a national park immediately around it, suburban Naples continues to grow all about the area and now holds roughly 600,000 people in about 18 towns in the immediate vicinity. If and when the mountain blows again, well, it could get mighty ugly.

Posted by Robert at 02:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ah! My Ears! They Bleed! They Bleeeeed!!

Looking to add a little mashochism to your Friday? Then nip on over to Above The Law and listen to the bootlegged copy of the Nixon Peabody LLP "theme song". Words simply cannot describe the horror.

Yips! to Jonathan V. Last at Galley Slaves.

UPDATE: Oh, I forgot to warn you - make sure and remove all sharp instruments within hand's reach before clicking. The temptation to puncture your own eardrums might prove too great.

Posted by Robert at 12:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, Big Mac

Which turns 40 today.


Frankly, as a general rule I've gotten kind of tired of McDonald's food since I go there so much (I have three young sons). And the devilishly manipulative "group set strategy" for the happy meal toys makes this dad most unhappy.

But I have a soft spot in my stomach for the ol' Big Mac.

When I was a kid, my parents would take us to McDonald's about every other friday night and my standard was the hamburger, fries and soda. When I was about eleven, my mom asked if I wanted to try something different. I chose the Big Mac (not that they had all that many choices at that time) and I was hooked. I swear it's the special sauce. It just brings back childhood memories whenever I indulge myself with that saucy sandwich nowadays. And now it turns out we were both "born" the same year. Eerie.

Anyone else a closeted Big Mac fan? What better time to come out than on its 40th birthday?

Yips! from Robbo: When I was a kid in San Antonio in about 1973, one of the local radio stations (55-KTSA, if you're interested - this was in the heyday of AM radio music) had a Big Mac promo. You were supposed to wear a big red button with the Big Mac ingredients on it. If one of the station people spotted and stopped you, you were supposed to recite the whole list in 10 seconds, or something like that. If you did, you won some prize or other.

Not that I ever ate Big Macs because I didn't like the sauce, but I and just about every elementary kid I knew spent a long time practicing, "Twoallbeefpattiesspecialsaucelettucecheesepicklesonionsonasesameseedbun!"

Yips! back from Gary:
I found a "buy one, get one free" coupon for the Big Mac. I went at lunch and ate them both. I couldn't help myself. Now, of course, I regret it. I used to have a friend who always said "Eating McDonald's is like masturbating. It's enjoyable at the time but you end up feeling guilty afterwards." True story.

Incidentally, I was inspired to do a little research on the "special sauce". Turns out it's not Thousand Island Dressing. Check out the ingredients:

Soybean oil, pickles, distilled vinegar, water, egg yolks, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, onion powder, ketchup, mayonnaise, corn syrup, spice and spice extractives, salt, xanthan gum, mustard flour, propylene glycol alginate, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate as preservatives, mustard bran, garlic powder, hydrolyzed (corn gluten, wheat, and soy) proteins, caramel color, extractives of paprika, turmeric, calcium disodium EDTA to protect flavor.
I'm not feeling very well right now.

Posted by Gary at 11:26 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

I Got A Baaaaaad Feeling About This

The movie version of Dallas apparently is going to be reworked into a comedy:

Regency and 20th Century Fox are overhauling the bigscreen adaptation of TV series "Dallas," about the oil-rich Ewing clan, and this time they're drilling for laughs.

Betty Thomas, the director who mined two spoof movie hits from "The Brady Bunch," is in discussions to direct. Pam Brady, who most recently scripted "Hot Rod," is penning the script.

John Travolta remains attached to play slimy oil tycoon J.R. Ewing.

When the movie was derailed late last year, Gurinder Chadha ("Bend It Like Beckham") was directing. Luke Wilson was attached to play Bobby Ewing with Shirley MacLaine to play Miss Ellie, while producers were talking with Meg Ryan to play Sue Ellen after Jennifer Lopez dropped out.

The budget for the comic "Dallas" should be lower than the projected $65 million for the straight-faced version.

There is also hope that a comedy about the dysfunctional Ewings will appeal to a younger audience, which has become a Regency priority. Studio is eyeing a January start date.

Yeah, I remember the lines 'round the block for those Brady Bunch movies. Scalpers were selling tickets for, like, a hundred bucks a pop.

I suppose in this version of life at Southfork, the big question will be "Who Gave J.R. The Atomic Wedgie?"

Posted by Robert at 11:11 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Dodged Bullets Division

So it turns out that the Missus and a friend are going to take the Llama-ettes down to King's Dominion for the day tomorrow.

I'm very happy that she'll have some help, as the Llama-ettes can be quite the handful.

I'm even happier that the help will not be me, as I loathe amusement parks.

The fact that tomorrow is forecast to be a boiling day deep in Ol' Virginny only cements my conviction that I'll be far better off lopping back the dicentra in a languid fashion than I would be losing my lunch amidst a sea of sweating humanity.

Posted by Robert at 10:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Gels of Summer Division


Last evening the nine year old stayed up with me to watch the Nats game. I've mentioned here before her belief that first baseman Dmitri Young is the bestest ever, but she now has the entire starting line-up memorized, and is beginning to formulate opinions of all of them. I missed the first inning and she insisted on recapping it for me with play-by-play commentary. And as the Nats' first at-bat included three doubles and a home run, you can imagine that she had an awful lot to talk about.

I tell you truly that no matter how many other mistakes I might make as a father, I at least know that I've done something right by getting the gel so hooked into baseball.

Posted by Robert at 10:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

You know, I don't think I've completely stopped laughing ever since Steve-O suggested Christopher Walken and Joe Pesci as Legolas and Gimli yesterday.

Posted by Robert at 10:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dem Candidates Scurry From The Eeeevil Fox News Channel

A Democratic Presidential debate scheduled for September 23rd (and co-sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus) has been cancelled because none of the candidates has the stones to appear on Fox News.

The nutroots is rejoicing!

Crooks and Liars:
"The netroots worked very hard on this, and deserve a lot of credit for the outcome.”

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo (and what’s up with that blog name?):
“skippy himself sent $50 to sen. edwards to reward him for being first to pull out of that debate (and now skippy keeps getting more emails asking for more money...go figure!)”

“Many bloggers, including James Rucker and Color of Change, gave voice to the opposition to this debate, and let the CBC Institute know that this partnership was not only unacceptable, but embarrassing…That debate won't be missed.”

Not missed by the loony Left, that is. But it will be missed by many voters who watch Fox News and would be open to voting for a Democrat. This is simply a missed opportunity for the candidates to appear on the most watched news channel on television. And they snub the CBC, to boot? This makes sense?

So if the men (and woman) who wish to be the next Commander-in-Chief are too terrified to appear in a forum that they perceive as hostile, how do they expect to convince America that they can stand up to terrorists? Or hostile nations like Iran? Hmm?

It also begs the question, if the nutroots exerts such influence over Democrats when they’re only running for President how much would they have over one who actually gets elected?

python run away.jpg
“Oh no! It’s Brit Hume! Run away! Run away!”

Ed Morrissey opines:

“For the Democrats, this completes a rather sorry episode in which they ran like frightened children from the nation's most popular cable-news channel. The Republicans came under scorn for resisting the YouTube debate on CNN, but most of them have already agreed to a rescheduled CNN/YouTube event closer to the primaries. (Mitt Romney has not yet committed to it.) Pundits and bloggers claimed that the GOP was running scared. The GOP, however, has already done a debate with talking head Chris Matthews as a moderator, while the Democrats have not bothered to venture into any forum less friendly than Keith Olbermann's studio.”
What a bunch of pansies.

Posted by Gary at 10:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Panic attack update

Allright, one class down, terror subsiding a bit.

UPDATE: I just noticed that my posts are being recorded in Central rather than Eastern time zone, no idea why that's happening (Yes, I'm not a complete loser, I recognize that it's a settings thing, but the clock on my computer is right so it must be how I'm configured into the moo knew servers.

UPDATE:'s a message from Future Steve..........insert scary music here)

And yes, if I posting Jim v. Dwight clips between classes, the mojo, she's a back...

UPDATE: Ah yes, that's the ticket...

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

August 23, 2007


The semester starts for me tomorrow, and I'm having my annual complete freak-out, replete with full-blown anxiety attack today. You know, all the good stuff: the dry heaves, the feeling that a Rhino is standing on my chest, the imagined feel of a metal cord cinching ever tighter around my head.

Therapy, you say? Well, if I were supremely organized, my syllabi would be done and ready to go, and I'd sneak out to watch Jason Bourne kicking some Black Briar Butt. But, as it is, the syllabi need to be polished, and the carpool meets tomorrow extra-early, so that option's not in the cards. (Add to that the Baconator's sudden interest in pitching for the Devil Rays, and a full blown panic attack is called for.)

So I've popped into itunes a playlist of sacred music: nothing like all-Monks, all the time, in Latin no less to calm my torpidly perturbed spirit.

It's weird to me, but I love to teach, and am good at it. But the act of preparing to teach has, as I have gotten older, become increasingly difficult, bordering occasionally on the terrifying. Which is weird, because public lectures are not a problem--even lectures in some pretty high profile places with high stakes audiences, while nerve racking, don't existentially bother me at all. But for some reason, the act of getting myself into the physical classroom at my school fills me with foreboding and dread completely and absolutely disproportionate to what the rational portion of my brain knows to be true.

Part of it might be just the process of getting old. I started teaching full time as a professor when I was (only) 28, and I'm now 41. Except for the occasional morning pain in the knees, I wouldn't change places, under any circumstances. I was never "cool," nor did I ever try to define myself as part of the "young and hip" crowd on the faculty. About six years ago or so I realized when doing the academic procession, "hey, I'm no longer at the back of the line," and I was never part of the hip crowd, I was no longer part of the young one either. That didn't bother me---in fact, it was something of a relief. The students stopped coming by to chat all the time, which made things somewhat easier to get things done, and to get home to the growing family. But what I've noticed this year for the first time is that I feel old from a technological and pedagogical perspective. I thought I'd been keeping up on new developments not just in the field but on the support side of things, but while I hold my own in the field, on the "new methods" side, I feel like Grandpa Simpson. Is that what's causing the anxiety? No, because it's been going on for awhile. Is it a contributing factor? Yes, I think it is.

What to do about it? I don't know, just do what I know how to do. This feeling usually passes with the beginning of the semester, or, at the very minimum, is at its worst just before it starts.

It's funny, because all summer I've looked forward to the semester starting. The past two years have been a professional hades, followed by the wilderness. I've worked very hard to get our department restocked, rebalanced, reloaded, and in effect restarted, which has worked better than I could have hoped for. So why does that leave me sitting here, the night before the semester starts, feeling like I have a ginormous flem-coated ice-cold rock sitting at the bottom of my stomach?

Yeah, I know, suck it up.

Posted by Steve-O at 05:58 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Light Fuse, Stand Back

Well it sure seems quiet around here today, so let me see if I can't stir things up a bit:

Viggo Mortensen was horribly miscast as Aragorn in the LOTR movies. One splending alternative would have been Ciarán Hinds.


Yips! from Gary:
I already weighed in at the comments section but I'd like to piggy-back on this one.

Orlando Bloom as horribly miscast as Legolas in the LOTR movies. I'd love to hear alternatives.

Also, which character do you think could have credibly been played by Christopher Walken? Seriously.

YIPS from Steve-O: Nice trick question, Gary. The correct answer is, of course, "all of them." What with the CGI taking care of the height, an all-Walken LOTR would have become emminently watchable---it would have had more cowbell, for sure.

And that includes the Chick roles too.

But if you could only have one Walken, then it would have to be Walken as Gimli. Hands down. Or, Walken as Legolas and Joe Pesci as Gimli, which would have made the big battle scene in the third movie absolutely high-larious.

Next question.

Posted by Robert at 12:19 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, Diane Chambers!


Yes, flash-in-the-pan 80's babe Shelley Long was born this day in 1949. And while her career has been, how should one put it, an unmitigated disaster since she left Cheers, you have to confess that her neurotic but comely BritLit major character on the show had quite an appeal at the time. Confess, I say! Confess!

Posted by Robert at 09:51 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Good News For The Goracle

Portly ex-VP and global warming alarmist Al Gore took 51% of the vote in an Arizona Presidential preference straw poll!

When tallying the votes, the local party leaders considered both the "first choice" of voters and the "popularity" of candidates.

The popularity vote was important because it showed who voters would chose if Gore does not run.

Gore won the first choice by 51 percent, followed by Edwards with 17 percent, national front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton with 14 percent, Sen. Barack Obama by 9 percent, Sen. Joe Biden by 6 percent and Rep. Dennis Kucinich by 3 percent.

Edwards won the popularity vote by 29 percent, followed by Gore with 26 percent, Obama with 19 percent, Clinton with 14 percent, Kucinich with 6 percent, Biden with 4 percent and Richardson with 2 percent.

As things look less and less hopeful for the former ambulance-chasing Edwards, the propects for Gore's shot at the Dem nomination look brighter.


I can only imagine the enjoyment of watching him and Nurse Ratched pummelling each other in the primaries. And if he actually won the nomination? High-larity would ensue!

Run, Al, Run!!! Speak truth to power, baby!

[Disclosure: I can't remember where I filched that sweet graphic from so long ago but if I did I'd gladly give credit where credit is due]

Posted by Gary at 09:43 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The post-Vick media frenzy continues

The horror, the horror...

Los Angeles, CA – Actor and Internet personality, Wil Wheaton, has been indicted by federal prosecutors on charges of promoting and hosting a robot fighting ring.

Prosecutors allege Wheaton kicked and electrocuted robots that weren't performing well, as many as fifteen robots. "He just blew their circuits," said US Attorney Bob Schrumpkin.

Was his affection for Data just an act?
The news shocked fans of Wheaton's, many of whom are robot owners themselves. Christie Cho of Simi Valley said, "I have an Aibo and a Poo-Chi and I love them. I can't believe the cruelty. I'll be putting my DVD of Stand By Me up on Ebay."

Wheaton contends that nobody gets hurt in robot fighting, and that people just don't understand. "It's deeply engrained in the geek culture. We see nothing wrong with it," said Wheaton. "We get together, drink a few Red Bulls and watch the robots fight it out. I don’t see what the big deal is."

Violet Tamagotchi, President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Robots (PETR), picketed outside Wheaton's home. She doesn't buy the "part of our culture" argument. "Asimov said robots can't hurt us, so why does Wheaton hurt robots? I thought Wil embraced technology, not destroyed it," she said.

Posted by Steve-O at 07:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How to get health care costs under control, like our European betters!

Easy: stop spending so much money helping people fight cancer, or help preemies survive.

Posted by Steve-O at 06:59 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


The latest from the ancient land of Chiner:

An Ohio importer recalled nearly 250,000 SpongeBob SquarePants address books and journals manufactured in China because the bindings might contain hazardous levels of lead paint, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday.

Martin Designs Inc. notified the agency that tests of the metal spiral bindings turned up lead content above the level considered safe for children, the CPSC said. Under regulations, children's products found to have more than .06 percent lead accessible to users are subject to a recall.

Children who ingest lead-laced paint can suffer brain damage. The company said it has received no reports of injury.

The recall involves address books and journals sold in retail stores nationwide from June 2006 through July 2007. They have a black metal spiral binding and depict the SpongeBob SquarePants character in various outfits on the front cover.

I always knew SpongeBob would make you stupid.

Posted by Steve-O at 06:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 22, 2007

The left wakes up, slowly


Unfortunately, many of us on the left have been silent on this issue for far too long. While we have been quick to criticize our own administration and other foreign governments (think Vladimir Putin) for undemocratic policies, there has been a tendency to overlook the authoritarian governing styles of leftist regimes like that of Venezuela. For some reason — probably because these leaders profess the dogma of economic equality and social reform — many of us on the left have defended these liberal autocrats.

But it’s time to wake up and get our priorities straight. We should not be blind to what is going on in Venezuela. We can no longer forgive Chavez’s dictatorial tendencies merely because of his avowed commitment to the country’s poor. Indeed, it is a grave mistake to overlook tyranny or authoritarianism even when it is couched in the rhetoric of liberal reform and social justice. Ultimately, while Chavez’s vision of an end to poverty and the creation of a more equitable society is an honorable and an important one, his way of achieving these goals is not. Upholding democracy is infinitely more important than any of these other aims.

Posted by Steve-O at 11:13 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Brushes with fame

And you would have been more dignified? I think not.

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

Getting ready for the trip to Chicago

Zendo Deb's excellent restaurant recommendations for my trip to Chicago for the political science convention brought to mind this clip:

After watching it, and some other clips, got me inspired to get ready for Chicago by watching the all-time classic Chicago flicks.

So after the Blues Brothers, I've got to see Ferris Bueller, The Untouchables, and The Fugitive, and of course High Fidelity. But what else?

Posted by Steve-O at 10:48 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

So I got that going for me

You Are a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
You life your life in a free form, artistic style. You are incredibly creative and at times, quite messy. Deep down, you are a kid at heart. And you aren't afraid to express it.

Your best friend: The Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Your mortal enemy: The Club Sandwich

What Kind of Sandwich Are You?

It is a wonder some people think I am uptight.

Posted by LMC at 10:31 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Vladimir Putin: a huge Tupac fan. Who knew?


Thanks to Keith S. for the inspiration for that one.

Posted by Steve-O at 10:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Not a good day for Animal Rights Activists

Case One: The Minnesota Bridge collapse: the fault of the Chimperor and his evil Iraq War? Karl Rove's nefarious schemes?


How about "corrosive pigeon guano."

Case Two: Climate warming in the Arctic: Evil AmeriKKKan oil drilling in ANWAR?


How about Norwegian Moose farting?

And yes, in finest Dave Barry traditions, both "Norwegian Moose Farting" and "Corrosive Pigeon Guano" would be good as names not only for a rock band, but as a new X-Games sport.

Posted by Steve-O at 08:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


You Are a Turkey Sandwich

Conservative and a bit shy, you tend to stick with what you know and trust.
You are very introverted, and you prefer to blend in whenever possible.
Though you may be hard to know well, anyone who does know you considers you a true friend.

Your best friend: The Ham Sandwich

Your mortal enemy: The Tuna Fish Sandwich

What Kind of Sandwich Are You?

Who knew turkey was the lunchmeat equivalent of dork? Kinda fitting, tho'. And can somebody send me a couple strips o' bacon?

Yips! to Club Rachel.

Yips! from Gary:

You Are a Ham Sandwich
You are quiet, understated, and a great comfort to all of your friends. Over time, you have proven yourself as loyal and steadfast. And you are by no means boring. You do well in any situation - from fancy to laid back.

Your best friend: The Turkey Sandwich

Your mortal enemy: The Grilled Cheese Sandwich

What Kind of Sandwich Are You?

I always hated making Grilled Cheeses.

Robbo, does this makes us BSFFs?

Posted by Robert at 04:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

How Does He Do It?

A 90-year old farmer from India just celebrated the birth of his new daughter.

Indian farmer Nanu Ram Jogi, who is married to his fourth wife, boasts he does not want to stop, and plans to continue producing children until he is 100.

Mr Jogi admits he is not certain how many children his series of four wives have borne him - but counts at least 12 sons and nine daughters and 20 grandchildren.

He's "not certain" how many he has?

oldest papa.jpg

At first I chalked that statement up to senility but if you read a little further down, it makes one a little concerned.

Mr Jogi, who attributes his remarkable virility to daily walks and plenty of meat, said: "I eat all kinds of meat - rabbits, lamb, chicken and wild animals."
His wives better keep a close eye on those tots. Yikes!

Posted by Gary at 04:32 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Royal Navy Geekery - Obscure Mutineer Dialects Division

This is interesting: The UN has got interested in saving the language of the Norfolk Islanders, the descendants of the mutineers from H.M.A.V. Bounty. The language is a hodge-podge of English West Country burr and Polynesian add-ons. Here are some samples:

Watawieh Hello

All yorlye gwen? How are you all?

Kushu I'm fine

I car foot I don't know

I gut ar hillie I'm in a lazy mood

Hui-hui Appallingly dirty and smelly

Fut you ally comey diffy and do daffy? Why are you behaving that way?

Yu bin pat aut wan piis a' kiek f' Berel? Did you put out a piece of cake for Beryl?

Car do far dorg et Not good enough even for a dog's meal

I gwen out yena f'porpieh I'm going out yonder to get some guavas

Da nufka se tow in em moo'oo That kingfisher has settled in the flax

Sup musa dan The soup's nearly cooked

Wan kau f' mais bradhas s' orf aut My brother's cow has escaped

Hi es kain a' huihuiwan He's somewhat dirty

Dem hihi andasaid em stoen The periwinkles are under the rocks

Kat krors aa paedak aafta tii en wi gu sing Cut across the paddock after tea and come for a singsong

Orl em ailan haendikraaft iin a' shoe hau gud des iya! How good the island handicrafts are in this year's show!

If you aurally squint hard enough, you can pick up the English roots of a lot of these expressions.

This sort of thing fascinates me endlessly, and this article brings to mind something I read or heard a long time ago to the effect that in the United States the difference between a Southern drawl and a Yankee twang lies at least in part in the fact that most of the early Southerners were from the West Country, while those who settled the Northern colonies tended to come more from East Anglia, a region of England that sported a considerably different accent from that of the West Country.

Posted by Robert at 03:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Academic dumb-assery of the day

From the Chronicle of Higher Ed:

Debating the 'Right to Romance'

Is the "right to romance" protected by the Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? That is the contention of Paul Abramson, a psychology professor at the University of California at Los Angeles and the author of the forthcoming book Romance in the Ivory Tower: The Rights and Liberty of Conscience.

Dinesh D'Souza was intrigued by Abramson's argument. "I picked up my copy of the U.S. Constitution and perused it. No such right," D'Souza posts on his blog. "I tried reading the document standing on my head. Still nothing. I squeezed lemon juice and held the paper up to the light. Gee, the right to romance didn't appear anywhere."

If Abramson is right that sexuality, like speech and religion, is constitutive of our identity, why did the founders not add a clause stating, "Congress shall make no law restricting the right to romance?" D'Souza claims that is because they "seem to have recognized that sexuality is fraught with the potential both for personal exploitation and social disorder."

"The whole concept is a legal absurdity," D'Souza writes. "Professor Abramson is certainly entitled to cruise the bars of Los Angeles looking for love if he wants to. I just think should leave his copy of the Constitution behind."

I've got to head over to Convocation right now, so more on this point later.

But what's important to remember is that the Ninth Amendment is part of the "living Constitution," whose meaning must expand to fit the times.

The part of the Constitution making Treason a capital crime? Not so much.

Posted by Steve-O at 03:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


The words will not come.

h/t: The Corner

Posted by Gary at 03:28 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Polar Spring

I've been noting but not blogging about the increasing aggressive acts of the Russian state and military. I'm going to start collecting them under the new category "Polar Spring."

Russia's up to no good, folks.

Here's the latest:

RAF Jets Intercept Russian Bomber Updated: 12:42, Wednesday August 22, 2007

Two RAF jets have intercepted a Russian bomber over the north Atlantic.

Typhoon interceptors shadowed a Russian Tupolev-95 "Bear" reconnaissance aircraft last Friday.

A Typhoon shadows the 'Bear'
It is the first time the £60m Eurofighter has been scrambled on a genuine alert since it took over defence of Britain's airspace in June.

The MoD said in a statement: "RAF Typhoons from Numbers 3(F) and XI Squadrons launched to shadow a Russian Bear-H aircraft over the North Atlantic Ocean on Friday 17 August 2007."

The £67m fighter jets were officially put on active standby last month, ready to protect the UK from hijacked airliners and other threats from the skies.

A dozen Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft of 3 (Fighter) Squadron are now on round-the-clock active duty at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire.

"Polar Spring" is my way of conceptualizing Russia's new assertiveness in the Arctic and North Atlantic.

Yips! from Robbo: If memory serves, Tom Clancy called it "Polar Glory" in his book Red Storm Rising. Iceland better start watching out for bogus cargo ships.

Posted by Steve-O at 03:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bite Me!

I have to go to the dentist this afternoon to get the ol' llama teeth cleaned.

They're already mad at me, I think, because I ducked the last session. (IMHO, a cleaning every three months, especially when I'm paying for it, is ridiculous.) So I'm sure I'll get a double helping of their particular brand of scolding, which combines elements of the Soup Nazi ("No red wine or coffee for you! It stains your teeth!") with Jiffy-Lube salesman ("Well, yes, your wisdom teeth are fine at the moment, but you should still get them out because you never know when they're gonna blow!")

Needless to say, I'm not looking forward to it.

UPDATE: Well whaddaya know? I have to shepherd some moderately important documents out o' here this afternoon and won't be able to make my appointment. [Insert Jerry Seinfeld-like "Thaaat's a shame" here.]

UPDATE DEUX: The Tooth Nazis are not happy. I just had a rayther testy message to the effect that if I tanked another appointment, they were going to charge me the full price, not just the "broken appointment" fee. Time to start looking for a dentist closer to the office.

Posted by Robert at 12:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

"A New Pleasure! A New Pleasure! "****

Yes, it's another literary meme, this one courtesy of Dan the Silver Fox:

What are you reading right now?

Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne - Hi-larious mid-18th Century cock n' bull story, but my edition has endnotes instead of footnotes, making for much tedious flipping back and forth.

The Mauritius Command by Patrick O'Brian - I distinctly remember that the first time I read this book was during a convention in Las Vegas in 1993. I'm now maybe on reading number eight. Got a problem with that?

Our Culture, What's Left of It by Theodore Dalrymple - Just to cheer myself up.

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis - The nine year old's bedtime story. We're reading the series backwards this time. Don't ask why.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?


What magazines do you have in your bathroom right now?

Down East and The Washingtonian. Also a collection of alumni mags from our various schools.

What’s the worst thing you were ever forced to read?

Beyond a doubt it was Henry David Fargin' Thoreau's Walden. Nothing so boring and at the same time enraging as (to borrow Peej O'Rorke's description of Thoreau) a sanctimonious beatnik.

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?

Nobody ever asks me for book recommendations because all my friends and family think I'm cranky and obscure. Go figure.

Admit it, the librarians at your library know you on a first name basis, don’t they?

I admit nothing of the sort. In fact, I'm not strictly sure where the local library is. I buy all my books in part because I'm a pawn of the Consumer Society and in part because I believe trees deserve to die.

Is there a book you absolutely love, but for some reason, people never think it sounds interesting, or maybe they read it and don’t like it at all?

I love Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams, but it always seems to produce glassy stares when I describe it to people. Also, I'm immensely fond of Robert Graves' historical fiction, of which nobody else seems to have heard, barring I, Claudius, and even there they don't realize that it was only the first of a two-part set (the other being Claudius The God).

Do you read books while you eat? While you bathe? While you watch movies or TV? While you listen to music? While you’re on the computer? While you’re having sex? While you’re driving?

Yes. Yes. No. No. No. No. No. However, I've been known to think about books in just about all of the latter settings.

When you were little, did other children tease you about your reading habits?

When I was a kid I got teased about practically everything. My reading habits were simply one more arrow in the quiver of my enemies.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?

I seem to have reached the station in life where I simply can't stay up all hours reading, no matter how much I enjoy the book. The Missus, on the other hand, finished up the latest Harry Potter at about 4:00 one recent morning.

Tag! You're it!

**** Spot the quote. Extra credit for identifying the person(s) who said it; what he, she, it or they were describing; and what part that thing played in the story.

Posted by Robert at 12:15 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

"X" Marks The Spot

Agnostic of Dusk in Autumn tears into the final chapter of Paul Fussell's Class, in which Fussell posits the existence of a "Category X" of free-thinking Bo-Bos outside the convention hierarchy of American society:

Now, I don't deny that many X-ers are smart and curious people, even if they're not the unrecognized geniuses they think themselves to be. What's really appauling about them is that they have wasted their high levels of IQ and Openness to Experience by pursuing things that are, on an intellectual level, utterly frivolous. They are not contributing to our understanding of how the world works, since Fussell describes them as inveterate "verbal people" -- in short, those adapted to bullshitting, hoodwinking, and pranksterism. They are not creating valuable art, literature, or music either, although they may play an instrument or regard themselves as writers.

What accounts for X's disdain for doing anything worthwhile, preferring faux contrarian behavior? A cynic would say this group is merely flaunting its intelligence and curiosity by investing them in perfectly pointless pursuits. And I don't mean "pointless" in the way that number theory has few real-world applications, but in the sense of "let's psychoanalyze the Transformers cartoon" or "let's make an AdBusters design." Or perhaps "let's maintain a weblog." The intended social signal is, "I've got so much IQ and curiosity to spare that I can afford to fritter a lot of it away on this useless crap." For example, Kant was reknowned for his appetite for arcane knowledge of obscure cultures. However, he was a highly disciplined, productive, and original thinker.

Unfortunately, though, the outcome for X-ers is as if a prole wore jeans and a t-shirt to ape the "understated chic" style of the upper class. First of all, the prole's jeans and t-shirt are poorly constructed, ill-fitting, and visually unappealing, just as X's actual output tends to be unimpressive. And if prodded for further proof, the prole would have no way to show he was upper class, while the true upper class can point to their houses. Similarly, X-ers cannot, when questioned, point to their Nobel Prizes, nor even to early work tending in that direction, or great works of art they've created. By contrast, if Robert Oppenheimer talked your ear off about Indian spirituality, leading you to suspect he was a halfwit, he could always have scores of eminent physicists vouch for his smarts and originality.

An apologist for Bo-Bos would claim that Fussell's final chapter is simply a subtle, ironic "deconstruction" of X's behaviors and motives. But his tone is too enthusiastic, and the other markers of class insecurity and envy too naked, to conclude anything other than that the chapter is a failed attempt at conspicuous ignorance. In reality, X-ers are just a particularly dopey subset of the middle class.

It's been maybe twenty years since I last read Class, but even at the time it struck me that "Category X" could really be narrowed down to Paul Fussell himself, together (by implication) with anybody who read Class and laughed in superiority at all the hopeless conventional dopes described therein.

There is much to be said for Fussell's writing in general, but one must always be conscious of the Giant Fussell Ego floating just beneath the surface of it. I sensed this first with this particular chapter of Class, but confirmed it when I read Doing Battle, his personal account of his service as an infantry line officer in WWII, which, from its quite blatent references and parallels to Goodbye To All That, I've always taken as Fussell's deliberate effort to crown himself the Robert Graves of the Second World War.

Yips! to Michael Blowhard.

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

Gratuitous Musickal Observation

I see that today is the anniversary of the birth of Claude Debussy. This year, for no apparent reason, the local classical station seems to be making something of a fuss over it.

Personally, I hold no brief for Debussy's musick. Some people get very excited about his extravagant use of bunches of discordant intervals and his wanderings in and out of tonality in aid of emotive scene-painting, making fun of contemporary critics who were shocked and put off by what they described as "mere noise". Those stuffy, straight-laced fools! How could they be so blinded to what we now know to be genius? Ha! Me? I just find his musick, overall, to be rayther tarsome.

Back in the day when I was seriously studying piano, my teacher (after much hectoring) finally talked me into doing a piece by Debussy. (It was one of his preludes, La serenade interrompue, if you're interested.) I did a reasonable job, if I may say so myself, but I never really could muster much interest in the piece and performed it primarily because in return, I got my teacher to promise that the next piece we tackled would be Bach's English Suite No. 2 in A minor, BWV 807. A not unreasonable trade, I've always felt.

UPDATE: Here's a quote from Debussy himself, stolen by me from my email quote-of-the-day guy:

The sound of the sea, the curve of the horizon, the wind in the leaves, the cry of a bird, all register complex representations within us. Then, suddenly, without any deliberate consent on our part, one of these memories issues forth to express itself in the language of music. It bears its own harmony within it. By no effort of ours can we achieve anything more truthful or accurate. In this way only does a soul destined for music discover its own most beautiful ideas.

Well, that may float some people's boat, but I respectfully reply, "Phooey." By that definition, Bach's musick would be nothing more than a sterile exercise in mathematics, which any sensible person knows not to be the case.

Posted by Robert at 09:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Commuter Pedantry

Message to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority re metro train announcements: "momentarily" means for a moment, not in a moment. If you wish passengers to understand that the doors will close in a moment, why not simply have your drivers say, "The doors will close in a moment."

That is all.

Posted by Robert at 08:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Narrative shift

This is the short term version of Edwards' piece in Foreign Affairs last week lauding Ronald Reagan*: notice the quoticle from Obama, in effect criticizing Bush for not making the surge large enough.

Democratic leaders in Congress had planned to use August recess to raise the heat on Republicans to break with President Bush on the Iraq war. Instead, Democrats have been forced to recalibrate their own message in the face of recent positive signs on the security front, increasingly focusing their criticisms on what those military gains have not achieved: reconciliation among Iraq's diverse political factions.

And now the Democrats, along with wavering Republicans, will face an advertising blitz from Bush supporters determined to remain on offense. A new pressure group, Freedom's Watch, will unveil a month-long, $15 million television, radio and grass-roots campaign today designed to shore up support for Bush's policies before the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, lays out a White House assessment of the war's progress. The first installment of Petraeus's testimony is scheduled to be delivered before the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a fact both the administration and congressional Democrats say is simply a scheduling coincidence.

The leading Democratic candidates for the White House have fallen into line with the campaign to praise military progress while excoriating Iraqi leaders for their unwillingness to reach political accommodations that could end the sectarian warfare.

"We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas, particularly in Anbar province, it's working," Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Monday.

"My assessment is that if we put an additional 30,000 of our troops into Baghdad, that's going to quell some of the violence in the short term," Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) echoed in a conference call with reporters Tuesday. "I don't think there's any doubt that as long as U.S. troops are present that they are going to be doing outstanding work."

The key part of the narrative shift is the "of course" line. The shift in the Cold War End-Game Master Narrative, which is now well noted "of course we all knew the Soviet Union was going to internally collapse, but a Carter Second Term could have done it more expeditiously and with less rancor than Reagan did....but then again, Reagan was a Democrat first, you know." The shift in the Master Narrative on Iraq is going to be about how united we were, and that the larger idea was sound, but it was messed up by Bush's bungling. Here's the money shot:

For Democratic congressional leaders, the dog days of August are looking anything but quiet. Having failed twice to crack GOP opposition and force a major change in war policy, Democrats risk further alienating their restive supporters if the September showdown again ends in stalemate. House Democratic leaders held an early morning conference call yesterday with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), honing a new message: Of course an influx of U.S. troops has improved security in Iraq, but without any progress on political reconciliation, the sweat and blood of American forces has been for naught."

Now, if the White House started making lots of "Blood and Sweat" references, you can bet your hedge fund dollars that Olberman and Co. would be going apoplectic with the Nazi overtones. But I digress.

What's important about this is the beginning of the Master Narrative Shift on Iraq. Over the course of the next couple of years, the left is going to have to (somehow) extract it's supposed belief in promoting human rights, democracy, and the rest of the Wilsonian agenda from it's absolute hatred of George Bush. My prediction is that in time, the Master Narrative will be recast as that of George Bush had the right intentions, but he was thwarted by Cheney and the thuggish Republican appointees in his administration. Something along the lines of this article that was yesterday in the Post:

"Two and a half years after Bush pledged in his second inaugural address to spread democracy around the world, the grand project has bogged down in a bureaucratic and geopolitical morass, in the view of many activists, officials and even White House aides. Many in his administration never bought into the idea, and some undermined it, including his own vice president. The Iraq war has distracted Bush and, in some quarters, discredited his aspirations. And while he focuses his ire on bureaucracy, Bush at times has compromised the idealism of that speech in the muddy reality of guarding other U.S. interests.

*Here's my favorite line of Silky's from his Foreign Affairs essay: "Millions of people imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain silently cheered the day President Reagan declared, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Even if these ordinary men and women did not always agree with our policies, they looked to our president and saw a person -- and a nation -- they could trust. Too bad these ordinary men and women the former Senator, Hedge Fund partner, and Ninth-Ward forecloser was refering to didn't work at the New York Times, CNN, etc., who excoriated President Reagan for his "recklessness" in that speech. But I digress....

Posted by Steve-O at 06:52 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

LLama Alert for the Chicago Metropolitan Area

I'm going to be in Chicago next Wednesday-Sunday for the American Political Science Association meeting. I'll post more about it next week, but I'm throwing out the travel advisory to see if any of our regulars are going to be in the area and want to get together for charred flesh and adult beverages. Professor Chaos is going to be there, and hopefully Dr. Rusty of the Jawas. Good times.

Posted by Steve-O at 06:42 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 21, 2007

One of the greatest fiskings. EVAH!

And by "Fisking" here I'm not refering to Red Sox great Carlton "Pudge" Fisk.

LBBuddy got me reading Fire Joe Morgan, perhaps the funniest and most-razor sharped bit of writing (let alone baseball writing) around the intertubes these days.

This is just devastatingly funny.

Posted by Steve-O at 08:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Epoch making

I think we can all agree what sector of the internet will most profitably engage this technology...

Posted by Steve-O at 06:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Schools that have WAY cooler orientation programs than mine...

This is just awesome:

Students undergo weapons training SVALBARD, Norway, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Students in Svalbard, Norway, are taught how to use a shotgun and ammunition to fend off polar bears at the beginning of every school year.

Since polar bears can outrun a human in a matter of seconds, every student at the University Center undergoes weapons and arctic survival training, Aftenposten reported Monday.

“It's absolutely necessary,” said UNIS director Gunnar Sand.

The school loans weapons, ammunition, tents, sleeping bags, survival suits, snow scooters and other equipment out as well.

Polar bears are not the only thing that student have to worry about either.

"Polar bears are one thing," Sand noted. "Even more dangerous is the extreme cold, and the winds. There also are dangerous glaciers, steep cliffs, and it's a long way between settlements."

The University Center in Svalbard is also the world’s northernmost higher education institution, offering courses in Arctic Biology, Arctic Geology, Arctic Geophysics and Arctic Technology.

Posted by Steve-O at 02:40 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Patrick "Leaky" Leahy As The Caped Crusader?

Yes, that's apparently the premise of a parody by the WaPo's Dana Milbank. It seems Leahy is a huge Batman fan (he even had a cameo appearance in the cartoonish "Batman and Robin") and he may just see himself as a crusader himself, against the Bush's evil henchman.


Okay, Steve-O. This one is just begging to be photoshopped!

Posted by Gary at 01:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Dance Party

Over at Pajiba, Llama pal Agent Bedhead reviews High School Musical 2:

For kids of any age, High School Musical 2, like its predecessor, is captivating and harmless viewing. For parents, it’s really hard to hate this film if you compare it to the dozens of other crap-laden films that kids want to watch. If nothing else, the growing franchise makes for tolerable background noise — hell, they’re even a bit entertaining at times. And, like it or not, High School Musical 3 is in the works.

Count the Llama-ettes among the legions of young gels who have fallen under the sway of this franchise - they begged and pleaded to be allowed to watch HSM2 t'other evening. Furthermore, they spent a great deal of time outside on vacation working on some kind of choreography and belting out "Walking on Sunshine" at the top of their voices. I've not seen either the HSM movies, but I strongly suspect this practice has its roots in them.

Posted by Robert at 12:24 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Is It Just Me?

Whenever I see the word "Clinton" in a headline it's invariably referring to Hillary. But when I read it, my very first thought - every single time - is Bill. Anyone else?

Posted by Gary at 12:00 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Vacation Mini-Book Review

Well, I had visions of great liddusher planned for my week off, but instead found myself laughing over a couple political satires by Christopher Buckley:


No Way To Treat A First Lady - When the President dies after a night of passion in the Lincoln Bedroom with a very thinly disguised Babwa Streisand stand-in, the Hillary-like First Lady is put on trial for assassination. An amusing insider tour of the bed in which Big Politics and the Media sleep with each other.


Florence of Arabia - After failing to stop the religious killing of an Arabian princess, a young State Department employee hatches a plan to start a feminist revolution in the hyper-Islamic Kingdom of Wasabi and receives unexpected help from shadowy figures within the U.S. Guv'mint.

I won't give away plots or anything of that sort here. Suffice to say that Buckley has a keen wit and a sharp knife, which he uses to effectively hamstring any and every subject within his reach. At the same time, unlike Tom Wolfe, he's not a scold. Instead, he serves up his particular brand of social satire with his tongue in his cheek and a twinkle in his eye. This perhaps leads to a certain want of gravitas in his novels, but at the same time when one is finished with them, one isn't consumed by a desire to go out and hang oneself, as is so often the case with Wolfe's more sledgehammer-like works.

Posted by Robert at 10:09 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - "Plant And Be Damned" Division

I spent the better part of five hours yesterday giving the garden a thorough weeding, pruning, deadheading, etc., etc., counting my blessings that the Dee Cee area is going through a spell of cool and rainy weather unusual for this time of year.

Among my other tasks was the very pleasant one of planting some specimens I picked up during my recent trip north. First were a couple of prarie cup plants given to me by the Missus' brother-in-law when we stopped over at their place outside Boston. This member of the aster family is a monster of a plant, reaching up to eight feet or better and putting out bundles of yellow flowers that are able to catch and hold moisture, hence the name. I placed them at opposite corners in the back where, if all goes well, they should make excellent bookends. He also gave me a cutting of his Mexican milkweed. I've got lots of butterfly weed in the garden, but none with this particular color of flower. And as I counted no fewer than eight Monarch caterpillars yesterday, I daresay it certainly won't hurt to add another sample.

In addition, whilst in Maine I also scooped up a couple of specimens of goldenrod and Queen Anne's lace from the neighborhood of our cottage. In addition to the fact that I wanted a little something to remind me of the place, I happen to think these flowers make a very nice combination. Plus, everyone knows that the business of goldenrod causing hay-fever is a lot of hooey.

No doubt you're saying, "But, Tom! Those are all.....weeds!" Well, all I can say in response is that the only difference between a flower and a weed is that the former is something you want in your garden and the latter is something you don't want in your garden. In other words, it's all subjective. So there.

Posted by Robert at 09:41 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Oh Suhweet Jaysus!

The show "24" just signed Janeane Garafolo for Season Seven.

Garofalo will play a government agent who is part of the team investigating the crisis befalling Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) and company in the upcoming season.
I don't know if I can stomach this. Unless her character acts as a politically-correct bureaucratic foil for Jack Bauer's efforts to save the country, I don't see this working.

I can see the chewed up water skis floating in the water now. Sheesh.

Most interesting quote about this comes from "The American Mind":

As long as her acting is good and the writers give her something decent to say she’ll be fine with me. I survived a female Starbuck in the new Battlestar Galactica; I should be able to tolerate Garofalo.
Point taken. If her character gets killed trying to reason with the terrorists, I can probably live with that.

Posted by Gary at 09:21 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

August 20, 2007

A Colossal Meeting

Among the other delights of our trip was the fact that I got to have lunch with long-time Llama compadre, The Colossus. Here is his description of things:

I got to meet Robbo the Llama today; he and his wife (and the Llama-ettes) were returning from their annual peregrination to and from Maine; I live near a crossroads on that journey and we got to enjoy lunch together.

Robbo paid; much to my chagrin.

He is much as I imagined; his blog persona and he are very similar beings -- though he is, naturally, not a Llama -- a smart and erudite man -- and polite, for he put up with my wandering conversation and my tendency, when enthused, to monopolize a conversation with perfect deportment. A good man. His wife is lovely, and the Llama-ettes are clearly great kids, though doubtless a handful.

There is no place on the blogosphere I go to more often, or with more expectation of finding humor and common sense.

I wish I had more time to blog; of late my blogging has been far too intermittent and brief; but getting to finally meet a hero of mine makes me pine for it more than ever. We talked -- or rather I talked, and he listened politely -- about the bloggers we haven't had time to read enough lately, and I fear my list was shockingly long. Oh, to have more time in the day.

I repost this here not to flatter myself (it's all too kind, anyway), but because Colossus' remarks about blogging vs. real-life personae got me musing: I've met about a dozen or so bloggers in the past few years, people whose sites I read regularly, and I can't think of a single one who was really very much different at all in real life than he or she came across on-line. I suppose that one simply cannot keep up that much of an act, and that writing day to day exposes more of one's real character than might be realized.

The Colossus is no exception: he's a big, affable guy, immediately recognizable as "good". For instance, while he was "chagrinned" that we picked up lunch, what he doesn't tell you is that we had originally planned to meet him on our way up, but got caught in such wretched traffic that we had to, in effect, blow him off. And coming back, we called him about half a dozen times, as our E.T.A. to his waypoint kept shifting backwards, again based on the traffic. As the Missus apologized for keeping him hanging about yet again, he simply laughed and said, "I've got a book."

As for the conversation, it was just the sort of pleasant, polite and thoughtful stuff I've come to expect from reading his site, and I only hope I did not appear too inattentive, as I kept swinging round to level a supervisory eye at the Llama-ettes and head off any potential mayhem. And however hurried things were owing to our schedule, I am very happy that we were able to meet up.

Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 04:34 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Vacation Wrap-Up

I'm BAAAaaaaaack!!

Lovely, lovely time in Maine and a much needed recharging of the ol' Llama batteries. We didn't spend a great deal of time "doing" things, because that's not the kind of place our little corner is. Instead, I always take the "be still and enjoy ME" approach. (Get it? Ha, ha.) It is enough most days simply to sit out on the porch, staring at the bay and sipping a nice cuppa or adult beverage, depending on the time of day.

Which isn't to say that we didn't do anything. Why, we went all the way out to Popham Beach one day and on another, drove over to Cundy's Harbor just to have lobstah rolls for lunch! And, of course, there was the usual constitutional hike around the island, being pulled along by Mom's hyperactive fox terrier, known as the Dog Of Very Little Brain.

I should also note that the BSAEM philosophy is not one which jibes well with the Missus' personality: the only time she is still is when she's asleep. Thus, she took it upon herself to keep the Llama-ettes amused - taking them to the Childrens' Museum in Portland one day and arranging (believe it or not) a candy-making session with the woman who owns the little candy shop up the hill from us on another. She also spent a goodish bit of time bustling about Yarmouth, Freeport and other locales, shopping and the like. All in all, the arrangement worked out pretty well.

I worry that it may not be all that easy to kick back and relax up there for very much longer. In the words of one of our neighbors, the area has been "discovered" by Boston. And while Bostonians as a rule are not nearly as obnoxious as Manhattanites, I'm afraid the place is slowly being Hamptonized. For one thing, the drive up I-95 across New Hampshire now often seems as bad as it is on the L.I.E. For another, there are some new McMansions-By-The-Sea going up, hideously at odds with everything around them. Their owners may desire to send the message "Me Got Money," but all they really manage to convey is "Sophisticated? Gawd!" My family has only been visiting the area for ten years or so, so we're still very much "from away". However, we've worked hard to blend in and adopt the local sensibilities, so I feel quite justified in taking the nativist position against those bent on altering things.

Oh, and then there are the jet-skies. We hates jet-skies - like much of modern culture, they're fast, loud and pointless. And they seem to have arrived. T'other day, Mom and I were sitting on the deck watching a pair of them zip around the bay. I started musing dreamily about sniper rifles and high-powered scopes, and we got into a detailed discussion about whether or not, using a silencer and judging the timing right, we couldn't make the shot look like it came from the opposite shore. Not that the local authorities would necessarily look all that closely....

Anyhoo, basta! Enough! Overall, we had a very good time. And I even took a few photos. Like to see 'em?

Oh, good!

Well. First we have the view from our house (I couldn't quite line up the pics to do a composite panorama):


That's the bay, of course, looking more or less due east. You haven't seen a full moon rise until you do so there.

Here we have two views of the little cove down below the house, taken left and right from the same perch in the middle:


I believe it is actually called Sea Cove, but the Llama-ettes call it Poison Ivy Cove for the reason that you touch any of the greenery at the top and back of the rocks at your peril. We had great success telling them off to go play here on their own this year - no broken bones, no drownings and no rebellion in the ranks against the nine year old's authority. Instead, they kept up a perpetual game of beach cook-out, and every time I wandered down to check up on them, I was invited to partake of such delicacies as "seaweed quesadillas". Yum.

Our particular island is the middle of three sticking out into the bay. The most seaward of the three has some truly nifty vistas, with the long Atlantic waves duly crashing against the rocks in approved romantic form. Here are a couple pics, taken the afternoon we introduced the Llama-ettes to them:

This is known locally as the Giant's Stair, although this photo does not do it much credit:


Here, the five year old and I reached a temporary and uneasy compromise about how close to the edge she was going to be allowed to go:


This one is known, I believe, as Pinnacle Rock. The Llama-ettes are not enjoying the romantic vista so much as watching the eider ducks, wondering if any of them will get caught in the surf and smashed on the rocks:


Finally, there is Popham Beach State Park, a nifty little spot about an hour away:


I didn't take this pic, obviously, but it gives you an idea. That little bulge of land out on the left is know as Fox Island. At high tide, the tongue of land leading out to it is completely covered and if you happen to be on Fox, you're stuck until the tide drops again. We always seem to arrive as the tide is rising, so have never made it out to the rock. Some year, I'll actually time things so we can climb it.

The Beach itself is very pleasant and the people quite polite - no boom-boxes, no cars, no obnoxious, louty behavior. The only drawback to the place is the fact that the water can't be much above sixty degrees, even at the height of summer. Much too cold for ol' Robbo, but it didn't seem to deter the Llama-ettes, who splashed and boogie-borded in the surf as comfortably as if they had been in the Bahamas, reappearing only now and again to help Dad with his extremely stylized mock-up of the Crac des Chevaliers:


Good times. Good times.

Posted by Robert at 03:16 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Not Getting It

Saw a bumber sticker this past week on a Prius. It said: "Al Qaeda Hates This Car". As if buying a car that uses less petroleum products fuels the terrorists' desire to kill us.

Here's a clue, bud. Al Qaeda doesn't hate the car, they hate the driver. For no other reason than the fact that you're free to buy and drive a Prius if that's your choice. But they don't hate you any more than the driver in the car next to you just because yours happens to be a hybrid.


Posted by Gary at 01:51 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


On the syllabi for my courses, I have a strict cell phone policy: if it rings twice during class (and that includes a noisy "vibrate"), it gets chucked out the window. I had a senior last spring who thought I was kidding--fortunately for her that, while we were on the second floor, there was a large bush to cushion the fall.

However, I am willing to make exceptions....

Posted by Steve-O at 08:25 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Further signs of the end of days

The role of Scotty has been cast for the upcoming Star Trek prequel.

Mr. Tumnus as Scotty? Ummm, no.

UPDATE: Ummm, no?

Posted by Steve-O at 08:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jerry Lewis, eat your heart out

Japan's take on philanthrophy:

Adult satellite network Paradise TV is poised to hold its annual charity telethon, promising to get physical with its philanthropy, according to Shukan Taishu (8/20-27). For the weekend of Aug. 25 to Aug. 26 Paradise will donate its airspace to the "24 Hour Telethon Porn Can Save the World."

I'm not going to quote anymore from the article as my Mom is a sometimes reader of this site. But I am going to hide the link under the mattress of my bed.

Seriously, though, I'm looking forward to Mr. Atoz and our own Phinneas over at AgentBedHead providing full coverage.

Posted by Steve-O at 06:53 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 19, 2007

Hasta La Vista!

***Stickied To The Top Until I Get Back. Scroll Down for Fresh Llama Goodness.***

(Image filched from The Colossus.)

Well, boys and girls, I am out of here until a week from Monday. We've got Internet access up at the cottage, but Mom's got a crappy old I-Mac that I hate and I've just made up my mind to just not bother with the whole business while I'm away.

Since we have a digital camera now, perhaps I will bring back some nice pics of our vacation in addition to any anecdotes, gripes or other nuggets of interest I pick up on the way. In the meanwhile, be sure to keep dialing in to watch Gary's continued slide into politicoholism and to see if Steve-O emerges from his secured, undisclosed location. I'm also counting on the LMC and Chai-Rista to carry things while I'm away. And of course, there are a bunch of unaccounted-for keys to this place, so lawd knows who else might show up to play while the Robbo is away.

Oh, one other thing - once I get back, I'm determined to take a very large stick to the ol' blogroll. It hasn't had a good whacking in a couple years and there are a bunch of dead or outdated links, plus many I simply never read anymore, that are due for culling. In addition, I've got a fistfull of new ones to add, as I'm getting tired of relying on Google and Sitemeter to get over to what are now daily reads for me. SOOPER SEKRET MESSAGE TO MY FELLOW LLAMAS: Be thinking about what you might want to add or delete as well and let me know.

In the meantime, be good, stay out of trouble and don't try to pick the lock on the Llama liquor cabinet!

Yip! Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 11:59 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

The right stuff

He supported Nixon, of course, because he took us to the mooooon!

Posted by Steve-O at 07:45 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

LMC Cultural Awareness Minute

Iraqi slang for SUV is "Monica", particularly when referring to a Suburban. When asked why, one of our 'terps responded:"You know, the old president's girlfriend." Size matters, apparently. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Posted by LMC at 10:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The latest in the Vick case

the statement of facts filed in connection with the plea agreement of one of Vick's co-defendants, via The Smoking Gun.

Posted by LMC at 01:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 18, 2007

We're the LLamabutchers, and we're nothing if not devoted to the pursuit of science

Today's edition of Ask Prof. LLamabutcher comes from A. dKosfecklessloser, via our friends over at Little Green Footballs. Feckless asks:

And the word doesn’t even mean anything!!! What the f*ck is a moonbat?
Now, now, young sir, the mating and eating (but, oddly, not bathing, as they don't seem to bathe) habits of the Macroglossius lunarius are well documented by our old colleague Dr. Werner VanSchtrudenbacher.

We here at the LLamabutchers are proud of our role in cementing the nickname via this piece of classic LLama pshop japery circa April 2004:


Here's a simple test, though, Feckless: if you can look at the following picture and think to yourself, "Yeah, I'd hit that, after picking up some Chomsky-brand free range tofu from the Whole Foods"

moonbat hotties.jpg

thennnnn you're probably a Moonbat.

Posted by Steve-O at 09:28 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Saturday Stupid

Alex Trebek: long lost brother of Ron Burgundy? You be the judge.

Posted by Steve-O at 09:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rock Paper Scissors, Wild Kingdom Division

In case you were wondering, Croc beats Shark.

croc beats shark.jpg

Posted by Steve-O at 09:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 17, 2007

Light fuse, step back.

More on "global warming" via the fine folks at NRO. I am old enough to remember the hysteria in the Seventies over the coming Ice Age so I have always been leery of dire warnings over looming climate catastrophe. Over to you, LB Buddy, for your certain response.

Posted by LMC at 07:26 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 16, 2007

Looks like I won't be retiring early . . .

Not with news like this. But don't panic--the stock market is a reflection of investor confidence which can be fickle thing, particularly in the short run. Over the long haul, it reflects the strength of the economy which is kicking butt. If I had loose change, I would wait to see if it goes any lower, then buy.

Posted by LMC at 12:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

It's a "Freaks and Geeks" Generation thing, you wouldn't understand

Thirty years ago today: where were you when you learned that Elvis was "dead"?

UPDATE: GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE DEPT. Kelly at Kelly's Green posed the same question.

And the correct answer is "poolside at the Hyatt in Orlando, Florida, while my Dad was attending the Academy of Management convention."

Posted by Steve-O at 07:52 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

August 15, 2007

This is the kind of story the MSM runs in August

The AP puts out a piece on Donald Rumsfeld's letter of resignation. The AP does not link the document but tells how long it took to get it, "multiple requests", there is no mention of Iraq, that the letter is stamped "received" at the White House the day before the election but the president did not announce it until two days later, etc. So, AP, why don't you link it?

Posted by LMC at 10:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 14, 2007

Count on us to ask the really important questions, such as

when is Ashley Judd going to appear again in a decent movie? Soon, I hope.

Posted by LMC at 11:50 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Bibi, on the way back

Netanyahu regains control of Likud. From the Yahoo! News juggernaut.

Posted by LMC at 10:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I refuse to believe this

Via Special Agent Bedhead.

Posted by LMC at 02:40 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The latest in the sad, strange case

of Michael Vick is here. Vick is facing federal dogfighting charges and is scheduled for trial in late November. His co-defendants are cutting deals and his attorneys are looking into it, to no ones surprise.

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

August 12, 2007

Babes of the Big Screen-Minority Report Edition

Once again, we are back at it, this time with Kathryn Morris who first caught my attention as Tom Cruise's ex in Minority Report. She did a great job in that movie and I wondered what happened to her. She is now on the small screen and stars in Cold Case with no visible ill-effects from working with TC. Research turned up a small role in Xena: Warrior Princess.

Posted by LMC at 08:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Dating in Black and White

James Taranto had this in his Best of the Web series last week. Scroll down to the part about an article on interracial dating--the Muffy Smith hypothetical is spot-on.

Posted by LMC at 08:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 11, 2007

Flash in the Pan Babes of the Eighties-Flux Capacitor Edition

We return to that award winning series where we pause to consider the babes of yesteryear. This time, our focus turns to Claudia Wells, Michael J. Fox's girlfriend in Back to the Future. She did not have much of a role, pretty much just present and looking pretty but reminded you of the gals in your high school classes. She did not do much after Back to the Future and seems to have made a graceful exit from her fifteen minutes of fame without stops on the estrogen channels.

Posted by LMC at 10:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 10, 2007

Cake For The Cure - Now With Cookies!

****Stickied to the top for this another week: Scroll down for fresh Llama bloviations****

Our dear pal Kathy, la belle dame du le gateau, has had her site hijacked by her young nephew James. James has diabetes. James is, if you'll pardon the expression, sick of having diabetes and wants to find a cure. To this end, he and his family are once again participating this year in the Omaha Walk to Cure Diabetes, held on August 11, and are looking for some coin from anybody interested in sponsoring them.

This is a good cause, people. Go on over and have a look. (There's even vids this year!) And consider ponying up as well.

Yip! Yip! Yip!

UPDATE: Kathy gives us the go ahead to indulge our favorite collective fantasy:


"Oh, Oui! Theese is le bon, no? Cleeek ze leeenk, si vous plait, while I stroke zee ears of zees Llamas!"

UPDATE DEUX: Okay, folks, things are starting to get interesting. Fellow Friend of the Gateau Christina has thrown down an offer: match her donation to James' Walk for the Cure kitty and she'll bake you some delicious homemade goodies. Yes! How can you resist that? Just follow the linkie for all the details.

(We Llamas thought about doing some kind of match thingy, too. However, the only prize we could think of was to spit at people, and in the end we reckoned that probably would not be very appealing.)

Yip! Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 11:59 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Thinning Out The Herd

And another resident of the pasture heads out.

Robbo isn't the only one going on vacation. I'll be away from an internet connection for next nine days.

Steve, LMC and Chai-rista will be carrying the load until we're back. Have a great week.

On a side note, my alter ego - the Tolkien Geek - will be occasionally refreshing some of the material over there over the next few months. Anyone not familiar with site who enjoys J.R.R. Tolkien may want to come check it out.

Posted by Gary at 02:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Looks Like I Picked The Wrong Week To Stop Sniffing Glue

Fans of the movie "Airplane" will get that Lloyd Bridges quote instantly.

The rest of you will wonder what the heck is wrong with me. But, honestly, after the last two weeks I'm wondering if I shouldn't make a quick run to the hobby shop.

Some of you may recall that recently my refrigerator went on the fritz. It was a really inconvenient time for it to happen (not that there is ever a time that is convenient, just more convenient) but I dealt with it.

A few days later, I run my dishwasher before I go to bed and when I wake up...a burning smell. Not good. Motor is blown out. Need a new one.

OK, what else can go wrong?

Glad you asked.

I have one of those metal frame above ground pools. You know, the kind you set up yourself and then take down at the end of the season? It looks like this:


Except you need to take away all the shiny happy people in the picture and insert me in the pool with a skimmer. Because that's what I've spent so much time doing. Oh, and give the water a greenish hue because of all the pollen we got this year.

Now my yard is such that the most level area to put it happens be near trees. Mature trees, I might add.

Yesterday, I woke up to find a twenty five foot limb from the top of a neighboring oak tree in the pool. Well, more than just in the pool. The heavier end smashed the metal frame and tore a huge four foot gap in the lining from top to bottom and in excess of 6,000 gallons of water emptied down my driveway (though luckily away from my house and my nearest neighbor's house).

I'll post pics later. But believe me I'm not making this up. [UPDATE - see below]


My guess is that the lightning storm we had the other day caused the break but somehow it kept from actually falling for another twenty-four to thirty-six hours.

I'm lucky no one was hurt.

So thus far, the month has August has been pretty rough for me. And it's only the 10th. Sheesh.

Posted by Gary at 10:45 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

No Impeachment! No Peace!

She just can't stay away. Despite announcing early this summer that she'd withdrawn from the national spotlight, "Peace Mom" Cindy Sheehan has actually carried through on her threat to run against Dem Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her San Francisco district. Sigh.

Honestly, I think most people on both sides of the political spectrum have tuned her out but it will be interesting to see how the nutroots reacts. Will they support her "insurgency" to light a fire under Pelosi, or will they turn on her like a pack of rapid dogs for being an unnecessary distraction in the quest to keep Democrats in control of Congress?

Either way, Mother Sheehan seems to be a willing to endure plenty of abuse to stay seemingly relevant.

Posted by Gary at 09:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

So, 1998 wasn't the hottest year of the last millenium after all ...

This, courtesy of LMC fav Michele Malkin. She is right, it will get little play in the MSM.

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

August 09, 2007

Perhaps I've Been Blogging Juuuust A Leetle Too Long

I can't explain it, but every day I seem to sense almost to the minute when Taranto's Best of the Web column gets posted.

Pretty weird, huh.

Posted by Robert at 03:05 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Four Senate Dems Do A 180 On The Surge

Durbin, Levin Casey and Reed admit it's (sort of) working, "praise" the troops.

Could it be they're actually pulling their heads out of their collective arses?

More likely it's the polls and the focus groups.

These are not Bush-backing GOP die-hards, but Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, Bob Casey and Jack Reed. Even Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee, said progress was being made by soldiers.

The suggestions by them and other Democrats in recent days that at least a portion of Bush's strategy in Iraq is working is somewhat surprising, considering the bitter exchanges on Capitol Hill between the Democratic majority and Republicans and Bush. Democrats have long said Bush's policies have been nothing more than a complete failure.

The Democrats' choice to acknowledge the military's progress in Iraq signals support for the troops, a message that voters want to hear.

WizBang's Paul Mirengoff nails these jackholes:
The Democrats don't support the troops; their behavior has made that abundantly clear. It was just a 2 years ago that the now positive Dick Durbin took the Senate floor and said our soldiers where as bad as the Nazis and the Khmer Rouge.

They're not supporting the troops. They are supporting their own reelection. When they think they can garner votes by bashing the troops, they'll bash the troops. When they think they have to give the troops lip service they will do that too - at least until November '08.

And don't you dare question their patriotism.

Posted by Gary at 02:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Vive La Difference!

You Are 53% Feminist

You aren't a total traditionalist when it comes to gender roles. But you're no feminist either.
You generally think that women should be treated as equals, but you're not convinced the world should be gender neutral.
Are You a Feminist?

There are a couple questions there guaranteed to drop your fem-cred if you're a-tall conservative. In addition, yeah, I still do some pedestal-placing. It isn't that I don't think women capable of doing certain things, it's just that I believe in a civilized society they shouldn't have to. So sue me.

Yips! to Gutzy Lady Rachel.

Posted by Robert at 12:01 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Here's the vid of the shuttle Endeavour going up yesterday, complete with on-board camera shots of all three boosters breaking away. (You have to wait till the very end for separation of the big central tank.)

Personally, I've long viewed the shuttle as a near-useless boondoggle. Nonetheless, I still get the chills watching a lift-off, much the way I imagine somebody might have felt watching a sailing ship pushing off for the horizon on a voyage of exploration back in the day.

I hope that in my lifetime NASA will scrap this low earth orbit mucking about and start dreaming big again - colonies on the Moon and Mars, ever more comprehensive probes of the rest of the Solar System and beyond. Either that, or else that it will just get the hell out of the way and allow private enterprise to do its stuff.

Posted by Robert at 10:57 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)

As I was headed out the door this morning, I tripped over our cat Bella who, as is her wont, had curled herself around my legs as I headed for the door.

The five year old was sitting at the kitchen table with her yoghurt. She said, "I think Bella wants to go to work with you, Daddy. You should take her!" Finding this idea to be extremely amusing, she burst out laughing at her own joke.

Me, I reckoned that this being the day before vacation starts, the cat would probably be about as productive as I will be.

UPDATE: And yes, I know I'm tempting the gods by naming calls this way. If all hell breaks loose today, I won't be the slightest bit surprised.

Posted by Robert at 08:30 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Back To The Future

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (API) - Ahead of the expected announcement that the South Carolina and New Hampshire Republican Parties will move their states' primaries to the beginning of January, the Chairmen of the Iowa Republican and Democratic Parties today surprised political pundits by jointly announcing that the Iowa primaries will now be held three weeks ago.

"In order to maintain our traditional position as the first great testing ground of the election cycle, we felt we had no choice but to break the temporal barrier," said a spokesman. "That'll teach those rat-bastards in New Hampshire and South Carolina to try and cut."

When asked if the change would stretch the campaign season beyond the limits of human endurance, the spokesman said, "Meh. What else have you got to do?"

Rumor of the Iowa move caused an immediate boom in the stocks of T.A.R.D.I.S., plc, Wayback Machines, Inc., and DeLorean.

Posted by Robert at 08:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 08, 2007

Gratuitous Domestic Posting - "Danger, Will Robinson!" Edition


The nine year old has started asking questions about, ah, feminine matters. When given a very general and matter-of-fact explanation by the Missus, she dismissed the whole business as "gross". When she repeated this observation to me last evening, I assured her that she had a few years to go before she had to start worrying about it, and that it was a perfectly ordinary part of growing up.

I think we're safe for the moment. However, I take these inquiries to be the first faint mutterings of thunder coming down the wind, heralding the storm that is going to descend on Orgle Manor before we know it.

I am so not ready for this.

Posted by Robert at 10:18 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Basic Economics

Or why tax cuts means higher tax revenues.

JFK understood it. Reagan understood it. Dubya understands it all too well. Cut taxes. Economy grows. IRS collects more money. It's really that simple.

Big Gub'ment Liberals, however, just can't get their heads around it. It flies in the face of their basic philosophy: If it moves, tax it. If it still moves, regulate it. If it stops moving, subsidize it.

DJ Drummond of WizBang spells it out as clearly as I've ever read it anywhere outside of a Thomas Sowell book:

It may seem at first that the high-wage taxpayers are really getting socked, and they are, but really, when it's all sorted out, what happens at the federal level is similar to what happens at the state, county, and city levels; it's business where a lot of that money is made, and in short, if a business is healthy and successful, it pays more in taxes. With me so far?

OK, so it's in government's interest for businesses in general to succeed. So how does that work, exactly? It begins with the fact that taxes can only be applied to money which is used. That is, mechanisms like Sales Tax and Excise Taxes and so on, can only be applied when money is used in commerce. Employment taxes and withholding can only be done when employees are actually hired and paid. And since so many taxes are proportional to the level of commerce, the more business a company does, the more taxes it pays.

So what does raising or lowering taxes have to do with increasing revenues? Well, where do you think the money that comes into a business is originated? It comes from the consumers, of course. If the consumers feel times are tight and uncertain, of course they will not be interested in spending money, it's just too risky, which attitude naturally slows down the economy. And when the economy slows down, so does tax revenue. Now, when on the other hand taxes are lowered, this provides taxpayers with more money, and a lot of that gets spent, which revs up the economy ... and in spite of the lower rate, increases the amount of money which comes in to the government. It's the same reason why stores put products on sale; the lower price is made up and more by the jump in volume sales if the manager has planned it right.

So if in 2009 we have a Democrat President with a Democrat-controlled Congress you can pretty much expect that taxes will be raised and regulations will increase.

Guess what will probably happen then? Spending and investment declines. Economy suffers. Less tax revenues are collected. Deficits increase.

And Democrats will blame Republicans.

Yips! from Robbo: A debate about government vs. private sector spending is brewing in the comments. Aside from the basic conservative principle that money earned by a person is that person's money and therefore ought to be spent (or saved or whatever) by that person instead of by somebody else, there is the matter of economic efficiency. This prompts me to repost here what Peej O'Rourke had to say on the subject:

There is a problem with letting government buy us the things we want, such as a cleaner, more diverse, more environmental environment. The problem is worse than political, it's psychotic. The government has a deranged method of spending money. This was first pointed out by Milton and Rose Friedman in their 1980 classic text on economic liberty, Free to Choose.....The Friedmans describe the four ways money is spent:

1. You spend your money on yourself. You're motivated to get the thing you want most at the best price. This is the way middle-aged men haggle with Porsche dealers.

2. You spend your money on other people. You still want a bargain, but you're less interested in pleasing the recipient of your largesse. This is why children get underwear at Christmas.

3. You spend other people's money on yourself. You get what you want but price no longer matters. The second wives who ride around with the middle-aged men in the Porsches do this kind of spending at Neiman Marcus.

4. You spend other people's money on other people. And in this case, who gives a shite?

Most government spending falls into category four. Which is why the government keeps buying us Hoover Dams, B-1 bombers, raids on Waco cults and 1972 Federal Water Pollution Control Acts.

--P.J. O'Rourke, All The Trouble In The World

Posted by Gary at 10:05 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)

At the moment the local classickal station is playing Beethoven's 1st Piano Concerto in C. The performance is by Olli Mustonen (piano) with the
Tapiola Sinfonietta.

Not only is this the third time in three days they've played this recording, I swear it contains a positive wrong note in the first movement - the pianist finishes off a turn half a step down from where he should. I can't believe that a professional recording would let something like this slide accidentally, so I assume it is done deliberately.

To my tropically heated brain, both the over-repetition in general and that conspiciously flat note in particular are very jarring.

Posted by Robert at 09:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sometimes Being A Prosecutor Is Easy

A little domestic law enforcement scene this morning.

Self: What's all this shrieking about?

Seven Year Old: She [the nine year old] hit me on the head with a DVD box!

Self (to nine year old): Well?

Nine Year Old: I did not! I was just holding the box near her head!

Hook her, book her, cook her.

The squabbling I just write off as something siblings do. As for the attempted alibi, I dunno whether I should be pleased that the gel felt constrained to stay somewhere within visiting distance of the truth, or concerned that she is such an inept storyteller.

Posted by Robert at 09:33 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ol' Fred's Cyber Team Finally Gets With The Program

The new and improved I'MWITHFRED v. 2.0 was launched yesterday for those of you who've been anxiously waiting for it.

It's pretty good, with an emphasis on Fred's video library at the top. At least now it'll be easier to make a more apples v. apples evaluation of his internet campaign alongside JoinRudy2008 and

Perhaps it's an indication of the state of John McCain's campaign that the first thing you get at his site is a huge splash page with a giant "Donate" button. Though when you click "continue to homepage" the layout is interestingly similar to the other three. Is it a coincidence that each site's sidbar menus are on the right?

On a side note, National Review Online's "The Corner" is saying that Ol' Fred's official "declaration" date will be September 5th (per NBC's Tim Russert). FWIW.

Posted by Gary at 09:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 07, 2007

Yeah, We Knew Him When He Was Wandering Around The Mall Taking Pictures Of Moonbats and Cute Puppies

Not a bad day for long time Llama nemesis friend INDCent Bill when his Iraq analysis gets picked up by both the Puppy Blender and NRO's Jim Geraghty.

See? We told you to hire the Scottish Dwarf as a stringer.....

UPDATE: Just had to pull this out of the ol' Tasty Bits (TM) Archives. You know the great curse of the Blogsphere? Your past never really goes away:

INDCent Bill.jpg

Good times. Good times.

Posted by Robert at 03:40 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

His Little Asterisk


Y'know, I certainly hope that Barry Bonds doesn't crack Hank Aaron's record against the Nats today (or in either of the other remaining games of the series, for that matter).

Perhaps it's inevitable, but I'm going to go on crossing my fingers that the Nats' pitching staff won't be the goats here.

UPDATE: Good grief!

Posted by Robert at 02:49 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

This Day In History

Well, OK it was only a year ago but it was historical. And it's actually one day shy of a year ago, but it was a Tuesday. OK, I don't feel like waiting until tomorrow. Deal with it.

The Democrats convened for their primary in Connecticut to nominate their Senate candidate. The incumbent, Joe Lieberman, was the target of a moonbat uprising financed by Leftoids throughout the country. Businessman Ned Lamont was the Kos-annointed one and ran against Lieberman for the nomination.

A huge grass-roots organization descended upon the Nutmeg State to send the Democrats a message: vote with Bush on Iraq and you're dead meat! Lieberman stuck to his principles and never waivered from his support for our troops and their mission. They threw everything they had at Lieberman, despite his voting with the Democrat caucus on EVERY SINGLE ISSUE except Iraq. The race became national news. And the machine rallied juuuuuust enough support to hand a thin primary victory to Lamont. The Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate of just six years earlier was turned out and the Party leadership at every level scurried away like rats abandoning a sinking ship.

I wrote about it that evening at the old site:

"The DNC was hoping for a close Lieberman victory. They got a close Lamont victory. And Senator Lieberman will now go the independent route. What choice does he have? Retire after having been pushed aside? He wasn't welcome as a Senator. Do think he'd be any more welcome in that party as a private citizen, even if he were to back Lamont? Fat chance.

The Left finally has their pound of flesh. And they'll feast on it for the next three months. They'll get confident, even cocky. And in the end, they'll overplay their hands (as they always do) and drag their party over the cliff.

And when all is said and done, Lieberman will still be a U.S. Senator from CT and the Democrats will have blown an opportunity to keep a safe seat in the (D) column."

Lieberman understood well that the vast majority of voters in the general election appreciated his eighteen years of service to the State so he ran as an independent. And not only did he win in November, but he won with 50% of Connecticut voters in a State where Democrats greatly outnumber Republicans. Non-Kosified Democrats turned out big for Joe.

Lieberman addresses his kook-fringe opponents.

Lamont's primary victory turned out to be the nutroots' high-water mark in that high-profile fight. In the end, Lamont was a weak candidate and a one-trick pony. The biggest irony is that as a result Lieberman wields more power and influence in the Senate than he would if he were merely re-elected as a Democrat. His presence in that chamber is critical in keeping the Harry Reid White Flag Caucus at bay.

Posted by Gary at 02:00 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Springtime for Osama

Huh -

A musical featuring OSAMA BIN LADEN has premiered at a Scottish comedy festival. Jihad: The Musical has amused audiences at this month's (August 2007) Edinburgh Fringe Festival with its comedic portrayal of the Al Qaeda terrorist. Inspired by Mel Brooks' musical-within-a-musical Springtime For Hitler (from The Producers), the play features the lyrics, "I wanna be like Osama/Wear designer clothes beneath a robe/I want to kill people round the globe," among others. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival runs until 27 August, 2007.

Tom Gross over at NRO's Media Blog says "Yuk!" but I have to wonder: if this is a lampoon of OBL his own dead self, then I'd say it's a good thing to taunt and tease and mock. On the other hand, if the point of the show is to taunt and tease and mock those who are fighting against OBL and the boys or have been victimized by them, well, then "Yuk!" indeed. Can't really tell from the blurb.

UPDATE: The Politico seems to suggest that the Islamofacists are the target of the satire. There also seems to be some kind of manufactured "controversy" brewing, focusing on an e-petition to the UK guv'mint got up by one Tom Jervis. However, based on this review, it seems the petition itself is coming in for some ribbing. Good. The more I think about it, the more I agree with this sentiment from the review:

Personally, I wish this show all the best. Ridicule is the best weapon against mindless religious dogma - especially a dogma that advocates murdering innocent civilians.


UPDATE DEUX: Here's a clip:

Yep, it's just plain silly, but "Heh" worthy.

UPDATE QUATR: Just for the heck of it, here's a little lampoon circa 1943:

Perhaps WWII wartime propoganda is somewhat different but it's still poking fun at Nazis, the same Nazis who were killing our boys in North Africa and knocking down our bombers over Europe! Would anybody consider that either tasteless or insensitive now?

Posted by Robert at 11:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Whoa. Good Blog.**

Lynn S has revamped and renamed her blog. She now gives you Violins and Starships. Go on over and enjoy!

(**Okay, Lynn, you ought to get this riff!)

Posted by Robert at 11:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, Mr. F!


The lovely and talented South Effrican actress Charlize Theron turns 32 today.

I never really jumped on the Charlize Bandwagon when she made such a splash a couple years back with The Italian Job and Monster. (As the title of this posts suggests, I know her better from a different venue.) So it may be my imagination, but she seems to have gone below the radar a bit since then. However, she's still quite young and IMDB reports she's got a bunch of projects in the hopper, so who knows if she'll zoom to the top again.

Yips! From Gary:
I humbly submit for your consideration an American alternative - similar in looks but more...em...substantial assets: Katherine Heigl.


New pic. The "doctored" eyes were starting to give me the creeps, too. Needless to say, when I first posted it I wasn't focusing on the eyes.

Posted by Robert at 10:56 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

If Walken Says It's True, You Don't Question

Christopher Walken has a preventative cure for baldness:

"As men get older, the skin on their heads tightens and the blood gets constricted. Apparently, if you keep your scalp skin loose, you're more apt to keep your hair. So I just grab it with both hands and yank on it while I'm watching the news."
Now (knock wood) I happen to be fortunate enough to be blessed with a full head of hair at age 40. But I say it's never too early to keep that scalp skin loose.

Another invaluable life lesson from the Tao of Walken. Can I get some more cowbell, here?


Posted by Gary at 09:55 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Fake, But Accurate Redux

The New Republic's "Baghdad Diarist" has recanted his works of fantasy under oath to the U.S. Army, according to The Weekly Standard.

THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned from a military source close to the investigation that Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp--author of the much-disputed "Shock Troops" article in the New Republic's July 23 issue as well as two previous "Baghdad Diarist" columns--signed a sworn statement admitting that all three articles he published in the New Republic were exaggerations and falsehoods--fabrications containing only "a smidgen of truth," in the words of our source.

Separately, we received this statement from Major Steven F. Lamb, the deputy Public Affairs Officer for Multi National Division-Baghdad:

"An investigation has been completed and the allegations made by PVT Beauchamp were found to be false. His platoon and company were interviewed and no one could substantiate the claims."

According to the military source, Beauchamp's recantation was volunteered on the first day of the military's investigation. So as Beauchamp was in Iraq signing an affidavit denying the truth of his stories, the New Republic was publishing a statement from him on its website on July 26, in which Beauchamp said, "I'm willing to stand by the entirety of my articles for the New Republic using my real name."

Beauchamp knew the worst that TNR could do was fire him for lying about the stories. Lying to the Army, however, would bring much more serious consequences. So, unable to prove any of his BS, he had no choice but to 'fess up.

So there you have it. You have a sniveling little moonbat who figures he can build up some kind of moral authority to slander our troops as long as he can point out that he wore the uniform for a tour in Iraq. Assuming that spending some time with the military that he - just like most Lefties - despised would give him some kind of "credibility", he decided to go to town. So he gets hired by his wife's employer to "report" on his time in Iraq. The result was to create the kind of urban legends that he never actually witnessed but was sure took place among these "baby-killers" for whom he held such disdain.

Too cute, by half. But now he's busted.

And The New Republic went the way of Dan Rather. So eager were they to believe these fantastic stories that they didn't bother exercising any editorial judgment and do a little fact-checking. No, to them the stories were just too good not to be true.

Private Scott Thomas Douchebag Beauchamp

Now, Beauchamp's escapades combined with the Steven Glass fiasco has pretty much blown TNR's journalistic credibility out of the water.

It never ceases to amaze me how Liberals can't get past the mental block that serving in the military is all you need to be able to criticize it. They tried it with Wesley Clark, then John F'n Kerry and now some little punk uses the same rationale to make a name for himself. And for them, you can't say anything positive or supportive about the military unless you've served or they brand you a "chickenhawk".

Private Beauchamp, however, couldn't be honest about his fellow soldiers and took the liar's way out. In my book, that makes him a chickenshit. Or as Uncle Jimbo at BlackFive (who had him pegged from the beginning) points out:

As I said every unit has a Private Beauchamp who is more or less universally disliked as a whiny loser. No one understands them and they are always getting screwed over. They always have aspirations to grandness coupled with an absolute uselessness and laziness that ensures they will never achieve it.

The incidents described by Private dung beetle did not happen in the way he described them, but some event containing morsels of truth did and then our fabulist enbellished it to match the narrative of the voices in his head. They tell him the war is evil and consequently he and the folks around him are compromised and now agents of evil. He was just doing his part to ensure that people get the truth as it should be, damn the facts.

It's hard enough fighting an enemy all around you who's sole goal is your destruction. It's all the more difficult when you have an enemy among you who's sole goal is to do everything possible to undermine your ability to fight back.

If you ask me, the Army should allow Beauchamp's unit to throw him a going-away "blanket party" and send his butt home with a dishonorable discharge.

Somehow, I think he'll get off a lot easier.

Posted by Gary at 09:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observation

Geh, what a day. Temperature in Your Nation's Capital will be up around the century mark this afternoon, with a generous helpin' of haze n' humidity on the side. After suffering multiple attacks of heat exhaustion, I've finally relaxed the Llama Dress Code to the extent that if the temp is going to be in the mid-90's or better, I won't wear a tie. I know, I know - another hammer-blow to the already crumbling wall of Civilisation. May as well hand the keys to the Citadel over to the barbarians right now and get it over.

By the way, I have a new theory that Metro deliberately turns off the escalators on especially hot days just to annoy its customers. There is nothing more depressing than finally getting off at one's stop in the evening only to find a huge bottleneck of fat, sweaty, clueless cattle trying to get up off the platform. Makes one want to hurl oneself onto the convenient tracks.

I could call this Dee Cee at its worst, but it isn't. Dee Cee at its worst is a solid week or ten days of this kind of weather. The air gets stinkier and stinkier, the hazy glare of the sun more and more maddening, and no matter how many gallons of water you chug, you find yourself growing weaker and more disoriented. Fortunately, we're only going to have a few days of the sauna treatment, after which it is forecast to break.

Of course, in a few days I'll be in Maine, too. I can't help noticing that the forecast high for my neck of the woods there today is 74. And that doesn't count the sea breeze. Sorry if I appear to be starting to obsess about this, but it's what gets me through this part of the summer.

Posted by Robert at 08:22 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 06, 2007

Gratuitous Llama Pre-Vacation Posting

Three days to go before we head for Maine, but who's counting?

One of the things I'm looking forward to this year is that a friend of Mom's has offered to take me out in his sailboat while we're there. It's just a small boat (I don't know what type) in which he duffs about the bay, but it should be fun.

In fact, I was chatting with Mom this weekend. She was sitting out on her deck and watching her friend work his way out of Lowell's Cove, hooting with laughter as he repeatedly missed stays while trying to tack. I reminded her of the old joke about the retired Admiral, which it seems appropriate to retell here. (I know I've done so before, but it's been a while.)

It seems there was an Admiral in the Royal Navy who, during his career, built a fearsome reputation as a critic of his subordinates' nautical skills. Upon retiring, he moved to a house built on a bluff overlooking the channel into Malta, there to spend his autumn years watching HM ships move in and out of the port through his large telescope. Malta has a tricky channel, and the Admiral also had a flagpole planted next to the cottage, via which he would offer scathing commentary on his brother naval officers' attempts to deal with it.

One day, a young Lieutenant was making a sad cock of his first attempt at navigating the channel. He knew perfectly well that the Admiral was watching through his telescope and kept glancing nervously up at the flagpole for any sign of the Admiral's opinion.

At about his sixth glance, the Lieutenant saw a flag racing up the flagpole. As the flag bellied out in the wind, he recognized the signal "GOOD". However, before he had an opportunity to take this in, a second signal ran up the flagpost. It read: "ADD TO MY FIRST - GOD."

"Good add to my first," has become a family expression.

Posted by Robert at 05:17 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Yes, Dear

Regular readers may recall that earlier this summer I was thrashing around trying to find a decent new pair of sunglasses that a) wasn't hidious and b) didn't cost something to the north of $150.

Try as I might, I couldn't seem to hit on the right pair. All the ones I saw were just too, I dunno, jack-o-lanternish - if that makes sense.

Then, two weeks ago, I had a brilliant idea. After a quick Google search, I was able to track down a pair of silver-framed John Lennon round granny glasses. Fifteen bucks. Done and done.

I really happen to like these glasses. They're retro. They're kinda counter-hip. And when topping my otherwise extremely conservative and low key personal exterior, they have a touch of subversiveness about them.

Well, the Missus came home this weekend. I had not told her about my new shades. Somehow, I knew with every particle of my being that she really was not going to like them. So when I put them on in front of her for the first time Sunday morning, I was braced for her comment: "I really don't like those sunglasses."

"Why?" I asked.

"I just don't. They're so...small and round."

"Well, that's rayther the point," I replied.

She finally allowed that I could wear them while driving my jeep (which she also doesn't like very much). However, she pleaded that I not walk around in public with them, but go back and try again with something else.


You know, there's a story out of Le Morte D'Arthur about a knight who has to go on an errand to discover the answer to the question, "What is it that all women want?" He rides high and low, interviewing lots of folk who give answers such as "gold" and "jewels" and "true love" and the like, before he finally comes across an old crone who gives him the correct answer: to have their will in all things.

Some things never change.

Anyhoo, I just now came across a pair over at Eddie Bauer with which the Missus can't possibly find fault, they being quietly oblong and unremarkable.

Posted by Robert at 01:21 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Literary Meme - Death Edition

Ith has an interesting little meme over at Absinthe & Cookies:

List five character deaths that affected you.

Noodling over possible answers, I was struck most by the variety of ways in which character deaths have affected me. I suppose there's no way to talk about any of them without giving things away, so if you're worried about spoilers, better avert your eyes right now.

Here are my entries. No particular rank, just five that immediately jump out at me:

George Osborne in Thackeray's Vanity Fair - I was dumbstruck by the way Thackeray pulled this off. Such simplicity, yet such dramatic power. I don't say "wow" very often when reading, but this was definitely one of those occassions.

Tony Last in Waugh's A Handfull of Dust - Poor old Tony. One of Waugh's nicest, most sympathetic young men, told off to an unimaginable hell. I always feel terribly for him. (On the other hand, I have read Waugh's alternative ending in which Tony comes back, and find it to be quite flat and uninteresting. I suppose the old Greek johnny knew what he was talking about when he tagged pity and terror as the prime ingredients in any good tragedy.)

Rascal the Raccoon in Sterling North's Rascal - Okay, I know he's released into the wild, not killed. But I cried and cried as a boy every time I read it.

Barrett Bonden in Patrick O'Brian's The Hundred Days - I've never quite forgiven O'Brian for knocking off Jack Aubrey's trusty coxswain in such a gratuitous way. I think the old buzzard was sick and tired of the series and did it simply out of spite.

Milady De Winter from Dumas' The Three Musketeers- By the time Milady finally gets hers at the end of the novel, one's only regret is that one couldn't have held the axe oneself.

Posted by Robert at 11:55 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review


The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001).

Woody Allen is CW Briggs, a crack, old-fashioned investigator for a big insurance company. Helen Hunt is Betty Ann Fitzgerald, a snappy, liberated "efficiency expert" hired by the company's president (played by Dan Aykroyd) to streamline its operations (and carry on with him on the side). Briggs and Fitzgerald hate each other on sight. However, during a birthday party for another company employee, a magician hypnotizes them into temporarily falling in love with each other. Unbeknownst to anybody, the magician's real trick is to retain his power over them after the show, ordering each in turn to steal jewels from some of the insurance company's wealthiest clients.

I was expecting a light, frivolous comedy. What I got was just tepid mush. There seemed to be almost no energy and very little chemistry, not that the idea of Allen and Hunt as a couple isn't preposterous on its face. And while I didn't mind the silliness of the plot, it also seemed thin and tired and full of half-hearted attempts to expand that lead to dead ends (the most noticable being a sub-routine involving Charlize Theron as the shmokin' hot daughter of one of Allen's rich clients). The dialogue, too, was uniformly flat and uninteresting. At better than an hour and a half, I thought the movie was about twice as long as it needed to be.

The one thing this film has going for it is its visuals. The piece is set in 1940 New Yawk, and the period costumes and sets were fabulous. I understand that Allen spent a boatload of money on this and it was well worth it. Long after I lost any interest in listening, I at least had something to look at.

Oh, and I will say that I don't let what might be called the Woody Allen Ick Factor interfere with my assessment of this film. (The Missus suffers from WAIF - she couldn't take much more than about twenty minutes of the thing.) I can still appreciate classics like Broadway Danny Rose, Manhattan Murder Mystery and the like. This was just plain lame.

Robbo's Recommendation: Zero Yips! out of five. Don't bother.

Posted by Robert at 11:02 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Oh God. Please, No.

The best show on TV might me heading into oblivion if this story is true.

Hey I don't have a problem with the production itself being all "carbon neutral" and paying lip service to an issue that - at worst - needs further study. It is Hollywood, after all.

But this is the passage in the Post article that sends a chill down my back:

The "24" page at now features energy conservation tips and a public service announcement about global warming featuring Kiefer Sutherland; more information will be posted when the show airs in January. Plus, climate change will be incorporated into the series' plot (which just might scare some viewers into taking action).
I'm am hoping - no, praying - that this is simply subterfuge on the part of the writers to throw the media off the scent of the real plotline. When Al Gore says that Global Warming is a bigger threat than terrorism, I get giddy with excitement that this guy might actually run for his party's Presidential nomination. Only a fringe minority actually takes a statement like that seriously.

And if a TV show best known for stories about fighting terrorism turns its sights on Global Warming it really is impossible to take that show seriously. Now if we're talking about fighting eco-terrorists like the Earth Liberation Front and showing the world what a bunch of zealous whack-jobs these people are, I'm all for it. In fact, seeing Jack Bauer open up a can of whoop-ass on these cretins has the potential to make Season Seven the best evah!

If the Post is speculating that the show "just might scare some viewers into taking action" I'm hoping that it's just wishful thinking on their part. Otherwise, "24" - which pissed away a lot of the fans' goodwill last season - will be doomed.

Posted by Gary at 09:14 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

It's The Wonder Of Nature, Baybee!

I awoke early this morning to the most amazing sound, the sound of water falling on the roof! And listening more closely, I could hear it falling all around the house - on the trees, on the sidewalk, on the street.....Can you believe it?

I think in the old days they had a name for this phenomenon. Rin? Roin? Something like that. I'm just glad that I was lucky enough to experience it this once.

Posted by Robert at 08:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tom Glavine Hits 300 Wins

Yeah, I know other than Mets (or even Braves) fans this isn't all that big a deal. But it's something I've been watching closely for some time. The left-handed pitcher entered an elite group when he earned number 300 in Chicago last night. It was a great moment to watch. While Glavine will almost certainly go into the Hall of Fame as a Brave, it's nice to see him hit this milestone in a Mets uniform.

Glavine and son.jpg

With this monkey off his back, Glavine can concentrate on helping New York win its division and finish off his career with a solid post-season performance. I'd be shocked if he stuck around next year as I'm sure he'd like to settle back down to Georgia and spend some quality time with his kids. But who knows? I expect the Shea faithful to give him a standing "O" in his next start, this Saturday against the Fish.

He possibly may be the last pitcher to reach this milestone. As A Friend Of Mr. Glass explains over at Yankees2000: Promote The Curse:

I'm not sure we'll never see another 300-game winner, but in an age of the cream, the clear, the flaxseed oil, and the what have you, well, 300 wins for a soft-tosser seems infinitely more impressive than 500 HRs for A-Rod or, almost implausibly, 755 for Bonds.

It's an accomplishment you can take at face value, and if nothing else, that's something to savor in this era.

Just had to filch this graphic from Metstradamus!

Glavine 300.jpg

Posted by Gary at 07:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 05, 2007

Dennis the Fish, R.I.P.

The seven year old made the tearful discovery this morning that Dennis, the blue beta who served as her class pet at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method, and of whom we've been taking care this summer, had shuffled off this mortal coil some time in the night. Poor thing (the Llama-ette, I mean, not the fish). But I suppose part of the function of having pets as a child is that they teach one to come to grips with death as part of the cycle of life.

The Missus was very quick to point out that this kind of fish only lasts about a year, that Dennis had a long and happy life, that the seven year old had been a good steward and that he died peacefully. Whether the Missus was correct about the lifespan of a beta or whether we, in fact, had put too much cleaner into his water yesterday, I dunno, but her quick thinking did much to cut short the seven year old's grief, grief that vanished almost entirely when she learned that she would be the one who got to pick out and name Dennis' replacement. Nonetheless, the seven year old felt compelled to hold a short memorial service after church, in which she said a few suitable words about "her favorite pet fish in the whole world."

Meanwhile, the remains, in time honored fashion, were committed to the deep via the upstairs potty, much to the delight of the nine and five year olds, for whom the spectacle seemed well worth the sacrifice.

Posted by Robert at 01:12 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 04, 2007

LMC Summer Reading

Finished American Admiralship: the Moral Imperatives of Naval Command, The Assassin's Gate: America in Iraq, America Alone, and The Truth About Muhammid. I am working on The Federalist Papers and Seven Pillars of Wisdom and still have The Sling and the Stone and Six Frigates to go.

Posted by LMC at 11:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Cranky Literary Observation

Yesterday, just for the hell of it, I polished off Bernard Cornwall's Sharpe's Battle.

You know, as much as I enjoy the Richard Sharpe series, I am sick and tired of reviewers who call Cornwall "the direct heir of Patrick O'Brian" and the like. This is either hopelessly naive or brazenly dishonest: there simply is no comparison between Cornwall and O'Brian. The former writes entertaining popular fiction. The latter wrote something not far off genuine liddershur. Apples n' oranges. (Of course, I also dislike people who call O'Brian the male version of Jane Austen. This, too, is nonsense.)

There! I feel better now.

Posted by Robert at 10:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 03, 2007

"I have GOT to get me one of these!"

The latest in war machines--via Hot Air.

Posted by LMC at 09:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Useful Idiot Watch

Spicoli is at it again, this time in Venuzuela with Hugo Chavez. Mr. Hand was unavailable for comment. Via Drudge.

Posted by LMC at 09:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I was skeptical, but now I'm a believer

I think I'm going to sneak out to watch the Bourne Ultimatum after reading this review:

As for Matt Damon: He continues do what it takes to create the perfect utilitarian action-hero: Stoic. Resolute. Bad Ass. John Stuart Mill would roll over in his grave and pump his fist, nod his head, and give a “Hells yeah” to Damon’s performance. He’s as cool as the other side of the pillow, or in David Mamet’s terms: “My motherfucker is so cool sheep count him to go to sleep.” Even during his brief flashback panic attacks, Bourne is self-possessed, allowing himself three quick breaths before composing himself, knocking out a potential killer and stealing his pistol in a single fluid motion that will have you jumping out of your seat and waving your “Bourne is #1” foam finger at the screen. And if there was ever a question about Bourne’s status as the thinking man’s action hero, he unequivocally answers it by beating the shit out of an assassin with a book. A book, people! How is that for a metaphor?

I went out the other night with a buddy and saw The Simpsons Movie which, frankly, sucked. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't very good (certainly when compared to other cartoons made movies Beavis and Butthead Do America and South Park, let alone Team America). It was just kind of flaccid: not enough Montgomery Burns, and no Sideshow Bob. WTF?

YIPS! from Robbo: Not to get all I-told-you-so about The Simpsons, but my predictive skepticism and I await a lavish apology.

Posted by Steve-O at 04:14 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

They'll Do It Every Time

I actually got stuck in the 10 items or "less" line at the soopermarket behind a woman buying, among other things, twelve ears of corn in three bags.

The woman was arguing that all of the corn counted as one item.

The cashier was arguing that each ear counted as a separate item.

Personally, I'd have counted each bag as a separate item, but what do I know?

(BTW, I put "less" in quotation marks because the apparent inability of supposedly educated people to understand the difference between "less" and "fewer" drives me stark-raving batty.)

Posted by Robert at 02:05 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Bachelor Posting (TM) - Final Stretch Division

Spent the morning mowing and trimming the yard in anticipation of the return of the Girls tomorrow, as I received peremptory instructions this week to the effect that if I thought I was going to "sneak off to do [my] projects" once everyone was home, I had another thing coming. Did the full monty, too, by which I mean that in addition to the yard itself, I also weedwacked the ditch by the road (gas-powered scything at its most tedious) and dealt with the little clearing behind the back fence, too. Hot work, but I congratulate myself that I got it done early, leaving the afternoon for fun indoor projects like.......changing sheets!

Tomorrow morning I have to deal with the garden. The seven year old, nicely balancing her truthfulness and good nature, said just before they left, "Gee, Daddy, the garden looks like a jungle. It's still beautiful, though." She's right - the garden does look like a jungle, with everything overgrown and going to seed. I don't really mind this, as I both like to encourage my plants to reseed themselves and also find something aesthetically pleasing about the tired, dishevelled look of things - a Dryad spent from the dance of High Summer and resting in anticipation of the relief of early Fall. The weeds, however, are another matter. Fortunately, we got just enough rain last week that the ground is right for pulling 'em, which is what I plan on doing.

Oh, one other thing about the garden. I dunno whether it's the combination of heat and lack of rain we've had of late, but I simply have never seen so many berries coming out on the raspberry canes before. Simply covered with 'em.

So that's that. One more night of bachelorhood and it's back to the usual domestic schedule. By way of wrapping things up, I'm going to cook myself a big ol' steak tonight. As far as I'm concerned, the only real way to do a steak is to get a cut at least three inches thick, build up a corner of the barbeque so that it's extremely hot, and cook the thing for no more than about two minutes tops on either side. That's the way Dad always did it and I remember how it used to horrify young persons that my brother, sister and I would bring home to dinner to see us diving into meat which, as far as our guests were concerned, was practically still kicking. I'll accompany it with some oven-roasted potato slices done over with olive oil and garlic, together with a salad involving lots of romaine. I've also got a bottle of Tio Pepe Fino in the fridge and will pick up a nice Beaujolais, or perhaps a Salice Salentino if I'm feeling more adventerous. After dins, I plan to settle in and watch The Blue Max with George "I Love It When A Plan Comes Together" Peppard. (I've been wanting to do this ever since watching the dud Flyboys put it into my head to go back to a real WWI air war movie.)

All in all, tho, I can't wait for the family to get back.

Posted by Robert at 12:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

GOP '08: First Contact

First a quick heads up on the home situation. Got a new fridge. It was a floor model with a couple of cosmetic issues that are invisible to the eye considering its placement in my kitchen. So I got a discount and all dairy products are doing fine.

Now to the matter at hand. Yesterday I went out to the mailbox and got my first solicitation from a Republican Presidential candidate.

Now I'm a registered Republican (recovering Ex-Donk) but I haven't given my mailing address to any declared (or undeclared) candidate as of yet. So receiving material from a candidate at this stage of the game tells me a couple of things - the biggest thing is who is the most aggressive campaign in terms of doing their homework for early outreach.

I'm assuming that the RNC is not giving out my home address so I'm wondering where they got it. I'm not bothered by it really but I'm curious. Is it a website I'm registered to? Or publication I receive? Maybe something less obvious that requires a leap of faith on the candidates part?

It could be as simple as someone going to the trouble of looking up voter registrations. In any case, it's probably a wise move.

The candidate committee in question is Team Rudy.

Anyone else receive stuff from GOP candidates, unsolicited? I'm curious.

Posted by Gary at 11:45 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 02, 2007

The semester must be approaching

108 emails I've sent from the regular account the past two days, no more than 10 being forwarded 'tube clips and high fives over Curt Schilling's return to the Sawx rotation. Uggh.

Posted by Steve-O at 10:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

That's My Church - "You Can't Quit - I'm Firing You!" Division


Peter James Lee, bishop of Virginia, o-fficially puts the TEC kybosh on the secessionist clergy within the diocese who have fled to other Anglican havens:

In an official act observed by two presbyters of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and with the advice and consent of the diocesan Standing Committee, Virginia Bishop Peter James Lee took the required canonical action August 1 to remove from the priesthood clergy inhibited by him on January 22, 2007.

The 21 clergy were inhibited following a determination by the diocesan Standing Committee January 18 that they had abandoned the Communion of the Episcopal Church. The possibility of such a determination was explained by the Bishop in a December 1, 2006 letter to the clergy and leadership of the now-former Episcopal congregations. By this action, the former Episcopal clergy are "released from the obligations of Priest or Deacon and ... deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority conferred in Ordination."

In addition to losing their capacity to officiate in Episcopal churches or in any manner as Episcopal priests, the former Episcopal clergy lose their capacity to contribute to pension plans begun during their time as Episcopal priests and any other benefits of service as Episcopal priests or employees of Episcopal churches or institutions. Pension benefits accrued to this point will remain payable.

Those removed from the ordained ministry of The Episcopal Church are the Revs. Robin Adams, George Beaven, Mark Brown, Marshall Brown, Neal Brown, Jeffrey Cerar, Kathleen Christopher, Richard Crocker, Ramsey Gilchrist, Jack Grubbs, John Guernsey, David Harper, David N. Jones, Marion D. Lucas III, Herbert McMullan, Clancy Nixon, Robin Rauh, Valerie Whitcomb, Elijah White, Frederick M. Wright, and John W. Yates II.

The Rebel Alliance says Bishop Lee can get stuffed:

The conservative Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (NACDP) said the decision "will not have force in much of the Anglican Communion or in a number of Episcopal dioceses."

Quincy Bishop Keith Ackerman; Springfield Bishop Peter Beckwith; Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, NACDP's moderator; Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker; and San Joaquin Bishop John David Schofield issued a statement saying that they will maintain relationships with the 21 clergy.

"In conscience we must remain in relationship and ministry with these priests, and the many others who have had this canon used against them because of their determination to stand with mainstream Anglicanism," the statement said. "As bishops, we ordain priests for the whole church. Surely we overstep our bounds when we attempt to decide for the whole church that a priest's ministry is ended because he is no longer under our authority."

The statement noted that because the clergy "are priests in good standing in the Provinces of Uganda and Nigeria ... each is recognized as a priest in good standing of the Anglican Communion. Therefore we welcome them to exercise their sacerdotal ministries in our Dioceses. Though we continue to work and pray for a charitable disengagement, actions such as this only make our relationships with each other more difficult and divided."

And in other Rebel Alliance news, a fellow cranky member of my congregation reminds me that it looks as if the Diocese of Pittsburgh is gearing up to consider breaking away. Pittsburgh is under the guidance of Bishop Robert Duncan, one of the more outspoken of the rebels. Indeed, his recently voiced opinion that not only is TEC lost, but so is Canterbury, is starting to form cracks in the Alliance even as it begins to coalesce. This is, in fact, exactly what TEC would like to see - a splintered, granulated sprinkling of cranks instead of an organized orthodox alternative. TEC still hasn't the remotest idea why anybody would want to abandon it, given what a paragon of Big Tent Deism it's become. But it's obviously happier if it feels they have no viable place to go.

Posted by Robert at 04:36 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

I ♥ Devo

You've probably seen the new Dell commercial featuring music by Devo.

I LOVED Devo in the 80's but I was confused when I heard the commercial because the song was unfamiliar. I thought I knew every Devo song there was!

As it turns out - I was right! I did know all of the Devo songs - except this BRAND NEW song, called "Watch us Work It." It has such great vintage-out-of-the-box Devo sound that you wouldn't know it wasn't written in 1980.

You can see the long version of the Dell commercial here.

Posted by Chai-Rista at 02:17 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Where The Llama Hoof Meets The Highway

Virginia residents living in terror of the new "abusive driving fees" that went into effect last month will be pleased by this development:

Judge Strikes Down Va. Abusive Driver Fees Fees Declared Unconstitutional

General District Court Judge Archie Yeatts issued the ruling in the case of Anthony Price, who was facing his fifth charge of driving on a suspended license.

With his order, Yeatts instructed Henrico General District Court clerks not to collect civil remedial fees that can reach $1,000 or more for certain driving offenses.

The ruling is binding only in Henrico County but is being immediately appealed to Circuit Court and could eventually reach the Virginia Supreme Court.

The fees have prompted protests from Virginians outraged that they apply only to state residents. Price's lawyers argued at a hearing last week that forcing him to pay $750 in fees that don't apply to people who live outside Virginia violates the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law.

Since the fees took effect July 1, critics have called for their immediate repeal in a special legislative session. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine opposes a special session but has suggested legislators revisit the law in the regular session that begins in January.

Kaine said in a statement released Thursday that whether the courts find the law constitutional, he is "committed to addressing the concerns Virginians have raised about this law."

The General Assembly passed the fees this year to help endow the first major transportation funding law in a generation. They range from the fee Price initially faced -- three annual installments of $250 -- to $3,000 over three years for driving-related felonies.

Because lawmakers wanted the revenue for highway maintenance, they enacted the surcharges as fees, which Virginia is powerless to collect outside its boundaries. The state can collect fines from out-of-state motorists, but the state Constitution requires those revenues to be used exclusively for education.

Except in the matter of wine production, I'm pretty pro-Commonwealth as a rule, but this was a dumb-stupid and monstrously inequitable idea from the start. I've not yet heard of anybody getting popped with a $1000 speeding ticket, but the potential has been wonderfully unpleasant. With any luck, the whole scheme will be chucked eftsoons.

UPDATE: Here's an online petition demanding the House o' Delegates meet in special session to repeal the fees. Go sign, fellow Vuhginians!

Posted by Robert at 12:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observations - Dog Days Edition

One of the many joys of August in Your Nation's Capital is the fact that the sun has now swung far enough south in the sky that it beams straight down E Street (and straight into Robbo's face) as I walk back and forth between the metro and my office.

As Mr. Keats might have put it:

The sun shines down from meridian height,
And illumins the depths of Dee Cee.
Cries out the Robbo, beginning to sweat,
"Oh dammit, how hot I shall be!"

We're outta here a week from tomorrow and not a moment too soon, says I.

Posted by Robert at 08:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Short Answer Time

Compare and contrast a certain dour junior senator who is trying to cast herself as the "inevitable nominee"of her party and the front-runner in the race for the presidentcy of Argentina, one Senator Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Anyone? Robbo? Steve-O, Gary? Bueller?

H/T Drudge.

YIPS! from Robbo: This puts me in mind of two things. First, the only political tee shirt I ever bought is one that reads "Property of Rodham Gulag". I actually bought it from an ad in National Review way back in '92. And although most people still appear not to understand the joke, I'm very glad it's lasted this long.

Second, I am currently reading Chris Buckley's No Way To Treat A First Lady. Mwaaaa-hahahaha!!!!!

Posted by LMC at 08:15 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 01, 2007


In the Corner, JPod puts the hurt on Obama over his recent threat to invade Pakistan (you know, to fight the real Al-Q) if elected:

I'm getting a lot of enraged e-mails from Obama defenders who are accusing me of caricaturing his position on Pakistan, or of being an apologist for somebody or other, or something. So let me be clear about one thing: Obama is full of it. This country is never — never — going to stage a major military action against Pakistan. Pakistan is a nation of 170 million people that has nuclear weapons and whose admittedly problematic and troublesome regime has, to some extent, cooperated with the United States in the war against Al Qaeda both in ways we know and ways we have no idea about. The concern that this strategically vital county might become an Islamic fundamentalist state is, should be, and will be paramount in every and all discussions about how to conduct the fight against Al Qaeda.

What's more, every serious person knows the United States won't invade Pakistan, even with Special Forces — since the reason we cancelled the proposed action against Al Qaeda in 2005 is that it was going to take many hundreds of American troops to do it. This isn't 15 people dropping like ninjas in the darkness. It's an invasion, with helicopters and supply lines and routes of ingress and escape. It would have had unforseen and unforeseeable consequences, but it would have been reasonable to assume the Pakistanis would have turned violently against the United States and hurtled toward Islamic fundamentalist control.

If the evil Bushitler Cheney Rumsfeld Monster wouldn't do it, nobody will do it. And you can bet there isn't a single person in line to run a Democratic State Department or Democratic Defense Department who would give the idea three seconds of thought. Obama is using Pakistan to talk tough, in the full knowledge that he will never actually pull the trigger.

He is trying to put one over on the American people, which is certainly using the "audacity of hope" in an entirely new way.

Yep. More specifically, he's trying to show himself as tough as Hillary! on foreign policy, but making himself look like an ass to anybody who actually understands it. And in the event he's actually serious about this threat, then all he is really doing is illustrating the old maxim that there is no one more dangerous to himself and everyone around him than a Liberal with a gun.

Posted by Robert at 02:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Bottom News Story

from ABC. Americans emigrated to Canada in 2006, all 10,942 of them. Of course, one has to dig down four paragraphs to learn that 23,913 Canadians emigrated to the United States in the same year. Nowhere is it mentioned that Canada's population is estimated at slightly less than 33 million while the United States has about 302 million residents.

Posted by LMC at 12:10 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Eliot Spitzer on a spit

and cooking slowly. This is NRO's take. It looks like Spitzer's heavy-handed tactics have finally caught up with him, thanks to an investigation by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Posted by LMC at 11:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

That's My Church! - Rebel Alliance Division


The Anglican Communion Network took the first steps this week toward organizing relief for those local systems not eager to be paid a visit by the TEC Death Star:

BEDFORD -- Dissident Episcopalians from across the nation approved a plan Tuesday aimed at creating a federation of Anglican groups opposed to liberal church decisions, such as the U.S. church's election of a gay bishop.

Eighty delegates to the annual council meeting of the Pittsburgh-based Anglican Communion Network took the initial steps to form a federation of Anglican groups still in the Episcopal Church, along with other groups that have left.

The actions came at a two-day meeting at St. Vincent's Episcopal Cathedral.

"This will begin the gathering of fragmented bodies into one unified body of traditional orthodox Anglicans in North America," Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker said.

Iker helped found the Anglican Communion Network in 2004 amid controversy over the 2003 consecration of an openly gay man, the Right Rev. Gene Robinson, as bishop of New Hampshire.

The 24-county Diocese of Fort Worth is one of 10 affiliated with the Anglican Communion Network.

There are 111 dioceses in the Episcopal Church. More than 900 individual congregations are a part of the network.

The developing federation's goal is to bring together Anglican groups in the U.S. and Canada, each of which would retain its autonomy but embrace a common cause, said Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, who was re-elected to a three-year term as moderator of the network.

"This will encourage Episcopalians who have felt there's no place left for them," said Bishop Keith Ackerman, leader of the Diocese of Quincy in Illinois and a former rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Arlington.

He said he expects many of the 53 Anglican groups in the U.S. that have organized in opposition to policies of the U.S. Episcopal Church to join the developing federation.

Network partners

Among the initial partners are the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Anglican Network in Canada, the Anglican Province of America, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, the Anglican Essentials Federation, Forward in Faith North America and the Reformed Episcopal Church.

More in this article. Meanwhile, the American Anglican Council has issued a fresh demand for transparancy in the ongoing TEC legal pounding of secessionist parishes over property issues, wanting to know just where the hell TEC is getting the money to fund all this litigation.

Frankly, I'm a little murky on the make-up of the various dissident factions, but it seems that they are coming together to form a coherent, alternative structure, one that will appeal immensely to us conservatives. I would expect that this movement will only be energized by the events that will unfold over the next six months or so. The more you tighten your grip, KJS, the more systems will slip through your fingers.

Posted by Robert at 10:20 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Royal Navy Geekery Posting

Destruction of the 120-gun French flagship L'Orient

"Victory is not a name strong enough for such a scene."
- Nelson

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of the Nile, fought in 1798, in which Rear-Admiral Horatio Nelson and a fleet of 14 ships ran to ground the 15 ship French fleet under Francois-Paul Brueys d'Aigalliers, Comte de Brueys, in Aboukir Bay near the mouth of the Nile.

As evening descended, Brueys anchored his ships in line near the western shore of the bay, confident that Nelson would not dare attack until morning and even then, would only be able to do so from seaward. Nelson confounded Brueys' plans by coming on in spite of night having fallen and then, realising Brueys had anchored his fleet too far out, splitting his force so as to envelop the French from both sides:

(Image lifted from Wikipedia.)

Caught between the hammer and the anvil, the French were utterly crushed, with only two ships of the line and two frigates managing to escape.

The French fleet had been at Aboukir in support of Napoleon's invasion of Egypt (which was intended as a stepping off point for a march on India). With the loss of his sea link, Napoleon's army was left stranded while he himself suddenly remembered an urgent appointment back in Paris.

The battle had enormous repercussions. Aside from the actual physical destruction of an immense amount of French war material, it removed the threat to British India. In addition it bolstered the already rising reputation of Nelson and, more generally, fueled the increasing sense of British domination of the sea, as illustrated in this cartoon of the time by James Gillray of John Bull (the Brit equivalent of Uncle Sam) lunching on French warships, courtesy of His Majesty's Navy. (Note the face of that rat-bastard Charles James Fox in the window on the left, as he flees in consternation over the Navy's successes.)


This sense of dominance was felt on both sides of the Channel and was to fuel British aggressiveness and French hesitancy at sea for many years to come.

The spectacular destruction of L'Orient pictured above was one of the climaxes of the battle. She had caught fire during the engagement. When the fire reached her powder magazine, she blew to smithereens. Needless to say, most of her crew were killed as well, including her Captain, Luc-Julien-Joseph Casabianca, and his son. This incident inspired the poem "Casabianca" by Felicia Dorothea Hemans (1793-1835):

THE boy stood on the burning deck
Whence all but him had fled;
The flame that lit the battle's wreck
Shone round him o'er the dead.

Yet beautiful and bright he stood,
As born to rule the storm;
A creature of heroic blood,
A proud, though childlike form.

The flames rolled on -- he would not go
Without his father's word;
That father, faint in death below,
His voice no longer heard.

He called aloud -- "Say, father, say,
If yet my task is done?"
He knew not that the chieftain lay
Unconscious of his son.

"Speak, father!" once again he cried,
"If I may yet be gone!"
And but the booming shots replied,
And fast the flames rolled on.

Upon his brow he felt their breath,
And in his waving hair,
And looked from that lone post of death
In still, yet brave despair.

And shouted but once more aloud,
"My father! must I stay?"
While o'er him fast, through sail and shroud,
The wreathing fires made way.

They wrapt the ship in splendor wild,
They caught the flag on high,
And streamed above the gallant child,
Like banners in the sky.

There came a burst of thunder sound--
The boy -- oh! where was he?
Ask of the winds that far around
With fragments strewed the sea!--

With mast, and helm, and pennon fair
That well had borne their part--
But the noblest thing that perished there
Was that young, faithful heart.

Patrick O'Brian fans will recall that young Lieutenant Jack Aubrey fought at the Nile, serving the guns in the lower deck "slaughterhouse" aboard the Leander as she broke the French line ahead of the Franklin.

Posted by Robert at 08:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Cat's Meow Edition

One of our cats has some kind of chronic eye irritation thingy that requires a daily administration of eyedrops. Now, if it were solely up to me, she would have started walking into walls a long time ago. However, in that wonderful division of household chores that is supposed to be the secret of a healthy matrimonial state, the cat's medicine is one of the little jobs the Missus handles.

Except, of course, when she's not there.

Now before you felinephiles start cringing in anticipation, let me assure you that the Missus extracted a promise from me that I would dose the cat while she was gone. Furthermore, I've stuck to that promise. I may say, however, that I enjoy giving the cat her drops about as much as she enjoys getting them, which is to say, not at all, atall.

For those of you who are curious, the trick to doing this solo is to get her up on a counter and wrap the left arm around her backside, holding her chin up with the left fingers and her neck steady with the left thumb, meanwhile leaning down on her to keep her from springing straight up. This leaves the right hand completely free to bring in the dropper. I only get one shot, but it is enough.

The curious thing is that she lets me do this every day. It's not as if I continually surprise her, as we go through exactly the same routine each morning: she watches me shave, then, as I'm donning socks and whatnot, she scratches her back on the underside of my chest of drawers. After some mandatory scratches behind her ears, she comes out from under it to have me rub her tummy. The heft up to the counter is the next step after this, and then bango, the drops. I know she hates it, but I also know that she knows it's coming.

I can only suppose that her desire for the attention outweighs her dislike of the treatment. (I believe there's a term for this among psychologists.) And no doubt she's saving up her resentment for the time when she feels she no longer needs me.

Posted by Robert at 08:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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