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Friday, March 11, 2005

Explain, Please

If you pay the slightest attention to the news of the strange, you’ve probably already come across the story of the chimps that very nearly killed a man and his wife when they were visiting another chimp at the same animal ranch. The story isn’t even a tiny bit funny to me--the damage done the the man was tremendous and the lasting injury will be horrific.

Following a link from Shawn’s site to an opposing view on re-enfranchisement (that topic keeps getting sideswiped here, now doesn’t it?), I decided to take a few moments and explore the site. I came upon commentary about the chimp attack that confounded me. The writer, Teflon, quoted from the story about the chimps and then followed up with this:

And we evolved from these creatures? Riiiiight.

What is that supposed to mean? What is it about this story that contradicts the concept of evolution? Was it the chimps strength? Was it the savage nature of the attack? I would go as far as to say that the cruelty

I’m sure that Teflon has a point, but I’ll be damned if I can see it.

RSVP For the Bash

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The Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash 4.0 is coming right up. See some of the brightest minds of the blogosphere rendered incoherent by the indiscriminate application of Jaegermeister, fine scotch, vodka, and tequila. Debate Ayn Rand’s lasting impact on the world’s political landscape. Buy me shots.

Andy will be the official sender of information, so be sure to watch this post for further information. For the second time, we’ll be gathering at the Denver Press Club and mingling with the media. For those dead tree types, we’ll be putting together a flier that acts as a guide to some of the bloggers in attendance. If you’d like to be included on that flier, be sure to RSVP here. We’ll take care of the rest.

Let the Deconstruction of Jo Begin!

Actually, just since Rae asked…

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?
I think I would want to retreat into something fluffy...Random Acts of Kindness or a Chicken Soup for the Soul book (hey, just bein’ honest)


Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Lt. Henry from A Farewell To Arms


The last book you bought is:
Matriarchs


The last book you read:
Wink (See a trend?)


What are you currently reading?
Homegrown Democrat


Five books you would take to a deserted island.


1. The Color Purple

2. The Confessions of Nat Turner

3. Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit (no, you do not have to love horseracing to love this book)

4. The Stranger

5. Any random Steinbeck title

Who am I passing this off to? The guys here of course.


I bet this list makes me seem mighty boring.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Why my next car won’t be made union made

From WXYZ in Detroit:

Some U.S. Marines say they were surprised by the decision made by Detroit auto workers about parking. It all started with the cars some Marines drove, and what was on them.

The words that have some U.S. Marines in shock came from the man in charge of security at the UAW Solidarity House, on Jefferson in Detroit. For a number of years now, dozens of Marine reservists have been thankful to park in the UAW’s lot for weekend training with no problem at all - until now.

Marines at nearby Marine Corps Reserve Center say on Tuesday morning, the director of security at the UAW told them that while they support the troops, Marines driving foreign vehicles or sporting a President George Bush bumper sticker were no longer welcome to park there.

Be sure to read the rest. These guys should be ashamed of themselves.

How to carry a man-purse without looking gay

Because, for some reason, nothing in the world makes a man look more manly than…

Ehterhouse has the details (via Spoons).

If you’re feeling just a little testosterone depleted right now, then check out the manliness of TR:

Conservatives keep their admiration under wraps because they fear the reaction of women should they celebrate his manliness.

Personally, I like women who want to see my manliness. But, that’s just me.

.

Uhmm, not that I go around everywhere showing off my manliness.

When I grow up…

... I want to be a shredder.

H/T Geoffrey @ Dog Snot

Excuse Me While I Cry

Even the sad news that you expect, the news that barely has an effect on your life, can take the breath out of you. So, you’ll excuse me while I cry a bit.

I’ve just got news that my grandmother passed away five days ago. I don’t have any details, and I probably never will. She had separated from my grandfather when he was in the hospital a little over a year ago, and I had only seen her one time since. Her kidneys had failed her and she required regular dialysis.

Her mind had started to fail her years ago. When I did see her, she was paranoid and confused; her thoughts were a jumble of memories and movies that didn’t make sense. She believed that my grandfather wanted to leave her penniless while she and my aunt struggled to get by. Meanwhile, my grandpa paid for my aunt’s rent, her car, extra for health care, and even a helping hand to some of the grandkids when they ran into trouble.

When my parents moved grandpa out to Arkansas, the split between grandma and grandpa was complete. In the letters he’s written me, he wished that he could see her and be with her again. But the distance was too great--both the miles and the months that past without contact.

There was a time when she was a strong, beautiful woman and her mind was clear. She was lively and her laughter would fill a room with the kind of joy that I’ve never been able to bring to others. If she sometimes felt a restlessness in her life, I’m nothing but sympathetic; sometimes standing still is the hardest path to travel.

I haven’t seen her in over a year, and I’ll never see her again. In Arkansas tonight, my grandpa’s heart is breaking. Even a carefully cultivated distance can’t keep me from this tightness in my chest. She’ll be in my memory forever, along with Chick and Uncle Billy and the rest, and she’ll always be that younger, vibrant, hot-tempered woman.

Excuse me while I cry for what I’ve lost, for what my grandpa has to be feeling, and for everything that time’s passing steals from us.

Rest, grandma.

The Rising Price of Oil

The chatterati are all a-twitter with the news of rising crude oil and gasoline prices as we inch toward summer. Politicians are demanding that President Bush release oil from the SPR, in order to bring prices down.

In September of 2000, President Clinton authorized the release of 30 million barrels from the SPR. In essence, it was a zero-interest loan to oil companies. They could refine the oil, but had to replace it by 2001. The effect on the price was negligible. I looked at data obtained from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Unfortunately, their content is dynamically generated, so I can't give you a permalink to the data. I did create a Microsoft Excel file that you can download and examine for yourself.

So in order to actually have an effect on prices, a great deal more oil will have to be released from the SPR. But even if all that oil is released, will US refineries have the capacity to refine it? Production is stagnant in the US; a new refinery hasn't been built since 1976. All things being equal, then, supply in the US is pretty much constant. Given constant supply, and rising demand, there is only one place for prices to go.

If I were an advocate of alternative energy sources, as many on the sinestra side of the aisle proclaim to be, this development should be welcomed. After all, if the price of gas climbs high enough, people will not use as much of it; and the higher it climbs, the more likely consumers will be to seek out substitutes. Look at it this way: If hamburger hits $5.99/lb., that ground turkey is going to start looking pretty darn good.

What about the secondary effects of rising oil prices, such as the increased cost of producing electricity? Again, higher prices should lead to lower consumption. But I have a hunch that the demand for electricity is, for the most part, pretty inelastic, and people will pay the higher prices, and manufacturers will be forced to either absorb those costs, or pass them along to the consumer, which opens a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

What needs to be done to mitigate the effects of the rising price of oil? For one thing, there needs to be viable substitutes. Building nuclear power plants might reduce the demand for oil, but we can't build them. Adding refinery capacity would be another solution, but let's face it, that ain't going to happen. We can try to find new supplies of crude oil, but I seriously doubt that is going to happen. Hydrogen? Last I heard, creating nitrogen fuel cells required energy, created by (you guessed it) oil.

What to do, what to do? We haven't even touched on the runaway demand from China, which is yet another factor in rising oil and gas prices; nor what might happen once Iraq is stabilized, and a dependable flow of oil starts coming out of the Persian Gulf again.

Still and all, adjusted for inflation, prices now aren't that much higher than they were 30 years ago. I recall gas being about $.75/gallon in 1978 (or thereabouts). In 2005 dollars, 75 cents translates to about $2.14, or slightly more than we're paying right now (at least in Montana).

If we really want to get those gas prices down, we need to approach the problem from all angles: 1.) find new sources of oil; 2.) get over our collective fear of nuclear power; and 3.) ensure that the oil supply we do have right now remains stable.

Then again, I could be wrong.

Fortune Cookie Wisdom VII

Along with today’s luncheon meal of Sesame Chicken, vegetable egg roll, and rice.

Good food brings good health and longevity.

Lucky numbers: 4, 8, 10, 13, 41, 42

Jeez. It’s like they’re trying to convince me to give up Sesame Chicken. Because while it’s good, it sure as hell isn’t the kind of good that brings long health and longevity.

Just sayin’.

Good News for Iraq

One of the wonders of a representative government, when it is empowered by groups of citizens who want the peaceful sharing of power, is the ability to compromise. This, along with the regular churn of leadership and ideas, is the thing that gives a government the ability to overcome difficult years. That the American constitution and system of government, for example, have survived is a testament to the trust of the people and the brilliant formulation of our basis of government.

Iraq is taking its first steps toward a similar goal: long-lasting government marked by peaceful, periodic power changes, and the mutual respect that grows between the governed and the government.

The Shia alliance that won the most seats in Iraqi elections in January announced today it had reached a deal with Iraqi Kurds to form a new government. 

In the five weeks since elections were held, on January 30, various factions have jostled for influence in Iraq’s first democratic government in modern times.

The United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), backed by the powerful Shia clergy, won 140 out of the 275 seats that will make up the new national assembly, which is to convene on March 16.

Although it has more than half the seats, the alliance needs the 75 seats won by the Kurds to muster the two-third majority required to elect a president and secure its choice for prime minister.

Today, after days of negotiations, the two groups announced a deal after reaching agreement on demands made by the Kurds for their support.

Regardless of your stance on the war, watching this birth of a representative government has to be a wonderful thing. What is especially gratifying is that so many people seem to believe that democracy and liberalism aren’t compatible with the Middle East.

Here’s to Iraq and what I hope is their peaceful and prosperous future.

Read the story.

Greetings and Salutations

Our editor-in-chief requested an introductory post, and I'm all about following orders from the boss, so here it is.

On the personal side of things, I've reached the age that the Bellamy Brothers would consider old, if I were a hippy. I got married the same weekend that OJ whacked Ron and Nicole. I have two children (6 and 3), with a third on the way this summer. I work in the public sector as a "pet nerd." I converted to Catholicism in 2003. I enjoy arguing for the sake of argument. I'm an ENTP.

Politically, I might be called a "neo-con," but I think I'm a little more radical than that. I favor school vouchers. The Department of Education should be disbanded and sent home (and probably HUD, too). The income tax should be abolished in favor of a flat tax or a consumption tax. If a tax is levied against property owners, only property owners should be allowed to vote on it.

That's a good start, I think.

I can't say enough how honored I am that Zombyboy has allowed me to come along for the ride. I hope that he doesn't regret it later!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

What the? Son of a… Grrrr! (Updated)

How in God’s name is Mikalah Gordon still on the show? How?

Whiny, irritating, trashy, no-talent, Fran Drescher-sounding little girl.

How?

(I meant that in the nicest possible way, of course.)

Update: Michele understands my pain.

How racist are you?

Alex at Marginal Revolution took a Harvard test to determine his level of racial bias:

My Unconscious is Clear

The Implicit Association Test is revolutionizing the study of prejudice and bias.  The basic idea is simple, the test taker is asked to categorize a series of faces, hitting a right hand key for a white face and a left hand key for a black face.  Then the taker must similarly categorize a series of words as good or bad, words like wonderful, nasty, peace, hate etc.

Head over to his site to see how he did and what his thoughts about the test are. You can take this and a bunch of other tests yourself

IAT Home

It is well known that people don’t always ‘speak their minds’, and it is suspected that people don’t always ‘know their minds’. Understanding such divergences is important to scientific psychology.

This web site presents a method that demonstrates the conscious-unconscious divergences much more convincingly than has been possible with previous methods. This new method is called the Implicit Association Test, or IAT for short.

Personally, I think it’s a crock.

Wow these digs are pretty swank

I'm pretty sure that James Lileks doesn't have an exclusive on writing something that looks like his Bleat, as long as I don't call it one. Right? Anyway, the name's Jay, the fine one, not the verbose one, nor the one who works at National Reveiw. In my middle twenties, I think I'm the youngest in the team and I'm damn proud to be part of it.

I've written about all sorts of topics before on my own space, but time and tides have basically pushed me in the direction of writing about pop culture, personal quirks and irritations, and a modest amount of my modest photography. Today I join the Resurrection Song team to meet new voices to hear from, and new faces to share my opinions with on matters of politics, ranging from cultural issues and public policy all through such lofty subjects like root political philosophy—at least that much that I can grasp. Though I am a self-described "libertarian conservative" I doubt I fit any sort of mold, just like everyone else in this complex world we live in.

I never thought that I would say this but blogging, for all the rugged individualism involved in expressing oneself, naturally gravitates towards forming communities. Yes, I will admit: I never thought I would be part of a group blog, but I've come to realize that it's all part of growing up.

Earlier Remy Logan wrote about Terri Schiavo and a matter of "dying with dignity." While I won't digress into the whole issue of a dignified death—a phrase I think has evolved into a euphemism for "giving up", for one—I'd like to take a little bit of time to remind everyone that the issue here is not whether she should live or not, nor is it a question of whose hands her continued care falls into. It's a question of who serves as the legal next of kin, the guardian, of her life. Until his competence as a guardian is completely and fully impeached, his decisions as her steward stand legally.

Marital guardianship—stewardship, if you will—is one of those "higher principles" that is being tested by the Terri Schiavo case. De Doc puts it quite well:

I am glad the Florida legislature tried to write a carefully nuanced bill, taking note of prior living wills, with actions to occur only when there’s "conflict between family members". However, I still do not see where there is ANY reason to enact, as a matter of law, provisions which allow the state to override the wishes of a spouse. If one wanted to start corroding the "sanctity of marriage", this seems a HELL of a lot more destructive to me than civil unions.

Difficult, and painful to come to terms with. A case of life imitating art? Maybe, but let us remember that mercy of for Terri Schiavo must not be administered at the cost of legal anarchy.

Expression Engine is a pretty cool weblog backend. No intentions of switching over to EE, but I won't withold credit where it's due. Here's a small tip to the rest of the team: the URL Title field can be edited, especially on posts with long titles, so that the title-based permalinks don't get too cumbersome.

The Saddam Spam Conspiracy

A former U.S. Marine who participated in capturing ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said the public version of his capture was fabricated.

Ex-Sgt. Nadim Abou Rabeh, of Lebanese descent, was quoted in the Saudi daily al-Medina Wednesday as saying Saddam was actually captured Friday, Dec. 12, 2003, and not the day after, as announced by the U.S. Army.


Read the rest here.

Is it important how and when Saddam Hussein was captured? I tend to think not really.

However, at the time he was found in the infamous "rat hole", I wondered what kind of Muslim (or American culture hater) would have SPAM canned meat product on his makeshift pantry shelf. I mean, let's not forget what's in it. And what's more Americana-centric than Spam? Aside from Spam in a 1967 Chevelle Malibu with the big block 396 traveling with a blond ponyhaired valley girl.

Leave it to Hormel to put a positive spin on it, however.

"It's further evidence of the popularity of SPAM worldwide," said a Hormel Foods Corp. spokeswoman.

So, was Hormel set up? Will there be a lawsuit against the Marines? Was this really a reflection of Sgt. Nadim Abou Rabeh's intense disgust with canned meat?

Hey, I never claimed to have the answers.

What Bolton really thinks of the UN

“Let us be realistic about the U.N.,"[Bolton] asserts."It has served our purposes from time to time; and it is worth keeping alive for future service.But it is not worth the sacrifice of American troops, American freedom of action, or American national interests.”

“It can be a useful tool in the American foreign policy kit.The U.N. should be used when and where we choose to use it to advance American national interests.Not to validate academic theories and abstract models.”

From the New Kerala, in India. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t find anything not to like in the article.

How is starving someone (Terri Schiavo) to death a “a peaceful death with dignity” ?

K-Lo asks the question over at The Corner.

The answer is simple. It’s not. I find it sad that there are many in this world who would rather let an heinous, evil murderer go free than let him die a painless death by injection, but gleefully enjoy the prospect of watching an innocent woman die by starving to death.

“Mrs. Schiavo is entitled to a peaceful death with dignity,” he said. “She’s going to aspirate and she’s going to have an extended, gruesome death” if fed.

Evidently, starving to death is a walk in the park.

The Conservative Litmus Test, Part 1

While reading the hate mail generated by Shawn Macomber’s article about re-enfranchisement of felons (ex-felons, really, but I have a quibble with the term), I was struck by the idea that people believe that there are absolute litmus tests for membership in the GOP or for self-labeled conservatives in a more general sense. Shawn advocated something that they disagreed with and their immediate response was to kick him out of the clubhouse.

My first instinct was revulsion: I don’t like the idea of litmus tests and I do like the idea of the “big tent.” Give me dissent and lively debate and I’m a happy boy; disagreement on particulars--even some important ones--doesn’t mean that we can’t dine at the same club. Sometimes we just sit at different tables (to stretch an overused metaphor).

My second instinct was to beat myself up a bit: of course there are litmus tests. There are some things that are inviolable in being a member of a political party. There are some things that you could advocate that would mean you can’t be part of the happy conservative club.

The conservative side of the aisle is pretty hard to peg, though. It encompasses people with both isolationist and almost imperial designs on foreign policy; both free traders and protectionists; and a spectrum ranging from near-libertarians to near-socialists. Our own President Bush, for example, is more of a small tax socialist (an unhappy combination there) with a moderately conservative social agenda, some free trade instincts that get pushed back regularly by his protectionist policies, and an evolving, extremely engaged foreign policy.

I voted for the guy, I like the guy, but I don’t know that I would label him a conservative.

That begs the question, though: what is the litmus test to be either a conservative or a Republican? Or do we have to fragment the labels further to find the litmus test for each group, understanding that there simply won’t be agreement in some areas (like abortion, the death penalty, and our involvement in the Middle East)? Fragmenting further, though, threatens to make a situation where the term Republican comes to represent every combination of political thought that you can imagine (think of all the cocktail party self-definitions you’ve ever heard: “I’m a social liberal and a financial conservative").

If the tent grows too big we’ll be in an age where we can say, “We’re all Republicans now.” That’s demonstrably not true, but it leaves me where I started. What is the test, aside from self-identification, that defines a member of my tribe; what is the border that separates us from them in the big debate on ideas and the direction we take as a nation?

New Authors. New Engine. Same Zomby.

Welcome to the New and (Hopefully) Improved ResurrectionSong. Riding on Expression Engine, I’m hoping that comment and trackback spam are a thing of the past.

If you long to look at the old post and the old sites, for now, just use the “Really Old Posts” link on the right side navigation. That will take you to the front page of the old site where you fill find that everything except the comments and trackbacks still work. You’ll also find Steve Green as a Playgirl cover model, so beware.

There are four new members of the team. All of them are familiar faces to long-time readers and all of them will add a new flavor to the site. So I welcome Jerry, Don O, Remy, Jo, Jay, and Craig (one of the guys who helped make ResurrectionSong successful in the first place) as my co-bloggers--and I look forward to reading them in the coming months.

There are still bugs to sort out between the two blogging engines, so please forgive any bumpy moments. Between a full time job, bloggiing for your pleasure, freelance work, and the new company, it sometimes takes a bit to get to the smaller things.

Welcome.

Woohoo, I made it!

I made it, I made it! I just want to thank the Academy and all the little people who made this all possible… Oops, wrong speach. Time to wing it.

Hi. I’m Remy Logan. Ever since I was a little kid, and first happened upon ResurrectionSong I dreamed of being a member of the zomby team. Ever since I was rim-high to a monster truck I wanted to be the “and others” on RS, right next to Jerry and Opinion Engine. Now I’m all growed and here I am. Yes, dreams really do come true. Of course, it took a lot of work. zombyboy had to beg and plead with me to get me to sign up. I was like dude, okay already. I did wrangle out of him an awesome steak dinner and a stay at a luxury Rocky Mountain hotel whenever I pass through Rocky Mountain Blogger territory.

The worst part was he made me prove I could actually spell ResurrectionSong. I cut-and-pasted that sucker. I’m also supposed to write a 5,000 word essay either about myself or what I did last summer. Let’s see—I’ve travelled the world and been on every major continent except for Africa, Australia, Antartica, Europe (except for the British Isles), South America and the Indian subcontinent. I’ve visited every state in the Union and every one of Her Majesty’s provinces in Canada except for the really cold ones and some of the other ones. I like long walks on the beach at sunset, laughing in the rain, and running barefoot through the park. Oops, wrong website. Well, I guess I could tell you what I did last summer— sweated a lot. If I told you anymore the CIA would be all over my butt. [Note to the CIA guys: Don’t worry. I learned my lesson after the first time with the cattle prod.]

Well… that was exciting. This will probably be my last post ever. You know how it is with childhood dreams. You achieve them, and then what? I’ll frame this post and send it off to my mother. She’ll probably put it on the wall next to my handprints-in-plaster thingy and that naked picture of me when I was 5. I thought I’d burned the durned thing, turns out she’d had copies made. Always get the negative. In case you’re wondering what I look like now, let’s just say it turns out that I wasn’t too traumatized by that photo afterall.

BTW, half of what I wrote is true. My therapist promises to let me know, one day, which half it is.

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