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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI

Frankly, I was hoping that the white smoke/black smoke thing would go on for a few more days. But the white smoke has gone up, the bells have rung, and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has been selected as the new Bishop of Rome.

Here’s my prayer that Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, will prove to be a wise, compassionate, and good pontiff.

PS-- Right Wing Sparkle sounds downright giddy. And Michelle Malkin has links to all sorts of informative links. Andrew Sullivan seems, ahem, a bit less happy than others.

Hot

Personally, I like the Ann Coulter Time magazine cover photo. Go through the slideshow, Ann has always been hot. Of course I’ve always been a leg man. When I see a girl in French bikini—I’d better go now, before I get in trouble.

You gotta admit it though, Ann’s hot!

Bleat You

Lileks:

Paged through a collection of old corporate correspondence, valued for the quality of the letterhead or the sentimental attachment one might have to the company. They’re always banal: a letter from a branch manager informing a consignee that the regional sub-commander of the northern district of the eastern division has been replaced by Mr. E. W. Functionary, and please make a note of it. Signed, dated April 7, 1951. <snip> In a way the documents are records of a particular time, a particular person: you run your finger along the reverse side, feel the impressions made by the typewriter key, a dent in the paper made by a secretary’s finger one spring morning 54 years ago. Is there anything you’ll do today that leaves behind something someone can touch in half a century?

Yes? Good for you.

Thanks James. Excuse me while I go be depressed. (h/t VodkaPundit)

Doolittle Raid

Yesterday marked the 64rd anniversary of Doolittle’s raid on Tokyo. The Washington Times has an excellent write-up of the Doolittle Raid.

It was never part of the plan for the bombers to return to the fleet. While they could take off from a carrier’s deck, it was much too short for landing. An airfield in China had been selected for the planes’ landings, but with the early takeoff it was much too far.

These guys left the flight deck knowing that once they took off they would have no place land. Where we do we get men like this?

Black Smoke, No Pope

Latest round of balloting fizzles out in a puff of smoke.

I’m only posting this cuz we beat Drudge to it. Personally, I think the dude was lying when he said he surfs 14 hours a day looking for news. More like 14 minutes 9-5.

Monday, April 18, 2005

How can you criticize John Kerry?

Laurie Byrd was asked what her qualifications were to be able to criticize John Kerry:

I believe that the John Kerry model represents a very small minority of those in the military. The majority are not taking home movies of themselves to be used in future job applications. It is a good thing to be proud of your military service, but it is a little pathetic to watch someone repeatedly have to refer to their own bravery in service decades ago to prove they are worthy of leading today. If Kerry is really so proud of his service, why won’t he sign form SF-180 and let us hear the rest of the story?

In further response to the comment above, if it is necessary for me to have fought in Vietnam to have any right to criticize John Kerry, then how can anyone who was not a fighter pilot in the National Guard in Texas criticize and trivialize George Bush’s service? And to be consistent on the point, and further illustrate the absurdity of it, by that reasoning how could anyone who had not been President of the United States possibly know enough to criticize George Bush’s performance as president?

Wireless Internet access for us poor people

Instapundit has an update on Verizon EVDO broadband access that ain’t.

I’ve been using a similar service from T-Mobile. It is a wireless card that lets you access the Internet from wherever T-Mobile has cellular service. It works at 56k speed, and is usually reliable. And it’s half the cost of the Verizon offering. Typically, these cards give you solid coverage in the urbs and burbs. For the rest of the country, you get coverage along the Interstate, with expanded coverage in the larger towns along that ribbon of highway. I’m happy with it. I wouldn’t use it for home access, but it is worth the money if you’re out and about a lot.

These services are different than the hotspot or wifi offerings. These work through the cellular phone system. So coverage and reliability are the same as the local cell service.

It is quite cool to be blogging while driving down the highway. And, just to prove I’m cooler than Instapundit, I was surfing the Internet while travelling down the highway long before the Pundit guy was. Hah, take that Glenn Reynolds.

Pattern Recognition

Instapundit linked over to this bit at Powerline about the latest Bolton kerfuffle. So, I’m assuming you’ve read it already (I’ll recap below for the 3 or 4 of you who haven’t seen it yet). Here’s my 2 cents worth:

When the Left and the media forsake their mantras of “fake, but accurate” and “the ends justifies the means” I will maybe begin to believe them when they throw out outrageous claims. Until then I won’t even bother with “innocent until proven guilty.” I don’t believe a word of what this woman says.

Recap from Powerline:

There is a familiar modus operandi at work in the accusation by Melody Townsel that John Bolton chased her through the halls of a Moscow hotel throwing objects and screaming threats at her in August 1994.

The accusation (from Ether Zone:

“In the late summer of 1994, I worked as the subcontracted leader of a USAID project in Kyrgyzstan officially awarded to a HUB primary contractor. My own employer was Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, and I reported directly to Republican leader Charlie Black.

“After months of incompetence, poor contract performance, inadequate in-country funding, and a general lack of interest or support in our work from the prime contractor, I was forced to make USAID officials aware of the prime contractor’s poor performance.

“I flew from Kyrgyzstan to Moscow to meet with other Black Manafort employees who were leading or subcontracted to other USAID projects. While there, I met with USAID officials and expressed my concerns about the project – chief among them, the prime contractor’s inability to keep enough cash in country to allow us to pay bills, which directly resulted in armed threats by Kyrgyz contractors to me and my staff.

“Within hours of sending a letter to USAID officials outlining my concerns, I met John Bolton, whom the prime contractor hired as legal counsel to represent them to USAID. And, so, within hours of dispatching that letter, my hell began.

“Mr. Bolton proceeded to chase me through the halls of a Russian hotel – throwing things at me, shoving threatening letters under my door and, generally, behaving like a madman. For nearly two weeks, while I awaited fresh direction from my company and from USAID, John Bolton hounded me in such an appalling way that I eventually retreated to my hotel room and stayed there. Mr. Bolton, of course, then routinely visited me there to pound on the door and shout threats.”

The Left needs better writers, this reads like a script from a bad movie.

The whining liberals at National Review

The libertarian leaning conservatives over at National Review always seem to find some kind of law they want passed whenever they get offended.

Now, because of this tragedy, Jonah Goldberg’s typical kneejerk reaction is that school busses should have seatbelts. Of course, Jonah ignores the facts:

# Safety Statistics. Last year, 45 states had not a single child killed as a school bus occupant - an incredible safety record. Between 1990 and 2000, an average of just six children each year died as school bus passengers. These tragedies typically involved unavoidable, severe circumstances.

# Trust the school bus for the best safety for your child. The Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences estimates that every year more than 800 school-aged children are killed as passengers in other motor vehicles, or walking or riding bicycles, during “normal school transportation hours.” Most of these deaths could be prevented if children rode in school buses. Parents need to know that driving a child to school is not a safety smart decision - hands down, the school bus is the safest way to and from school. Even worse, allowing a child to drive themselves to school, or riding with other teenagers to school, increases the risk of fatality by 10 percent.

Come on Jonah, go ahead and say it: “I’m doing it for the children. If it saves the life of one child...”

Note: I like Jonah, and agree with a lot, (not all), of what is espoused over at NRO. It gets me how easily they shrug off their anti-big-government costumes for special causes. A lot days they sound like a gaggle of whining liberals.

Press Freedom in the UK

The next time some international organization decries the lack of press freedom in the U.S., maybe we can point them to this—Telegraph wins right to appeal in Galloway ruling:

The Telegraph won permission yesterday to appeal against a High Court ruling in December that George Galloway, the former Labour MP, had been “seriously defamed” when the newspaper published documents about him that it found in Iraq two years ago today.

Can you imagine the outcry if W had sued Dan Rather? BTW, it is illegal in Germany for a newspaper to report that Gerhard Schroeder dyes his hair. In Canada it’s illegal for newspapers to report on corruption (see Capt Ed).

Depressed Germans

“How will someone ever get better,” Burghard Klopp, a depression expert at Berlin’s Charité hospital, told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, “when they know their boss is just waiting to fire them?”

Let’s see… you could get a new job that is in keeping with your abilities; go to school and brush up on your skills (or, just plain get some skills); work your ass off so that you’re “needed” or at least have soemthing to add to your dusty old resume; or, get therapy from some guy who can’t make it in the real world who will tell you what a good person you are and to not listen to your mean old boss.

Evidently there is a little bit of sanity left in Germany:

Nevertheless, most respondents said they would rather be depressed with a job than unemployed and happy.

Welcome to the real world.

Black Smoke

Am I the only one who finds the whole black smoke/white smoke thing intriguing?

Chemicals are added to colour the smoke - black smoke signals failure to agree on a candidate, while white smoke means a new pope has been chosen.

The last time a new Pope was chosen, I was far too young to notice these things, and, as far as I can remember, my parents weren’t terribly interested. Now that I’m older, I’m far more interested in the traditions and rituals that are part of Catholicism. There are even times that I’m a bit jealous of those ceremonies, even while realizing that the Catholic church would probably be a poor fit for me. Then again, the Baptist church doesn’t seem to fit as well as it once did, either.

Seeing the photos of Pope John Paul II lying in state, reading about the black smoke and the white smoke, and even delving a bit into the history of the Catholic church has been wonderful. The sense of something ancient and solemn does something to add to the religious observance.

Read the story.

The Horror!

Sometimes, expressing individuality is not a good thing.

Just sayin’...

Well, That’s a Surprise (Updated)

In a move that will be of interest only to graphics geeks--but it will be of interest to graphics geeks--Adobe is about to gobble up Macromedia.

Adobe Systems Inc., one of the world’s largest providers of document-design software, will acquire Macromedia Inc. in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $3.4 billion, the companies announced Monday.

Adobe’s software includes the popular Acrobat and Photoshop program. San Francisco-based Macromedia makes the Dreamweaver and Flash web-design software.

This would be kind of like waking up to find out that Microsoft had bought out Apple, only without quite the partisan bickering that would attend that kind of a moment and with two corporate cultures that mesh far better. This is the two biggest players in 2d graphic design and illustration coming together and leaving very little in the way of competition in the field.

Hopefully the lack of competition won’t mean a lack of innovation in the future.

Read the story.

Update: Jerry was kind enough to forward a link to the Slashdot response. In case you wanted to watch the real geeks tussling over the future of Adobe and Macromedia products. I’ve decided that Slashdot exsists to make me feel well-adjusted and normal by comparison.

Just sayin’…

Read the Adobe press release.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Tom Snyder Has Leukemia

Four years ago they stuck a defibrillator/pacemaker in my chest because my heart disease was treatable! A year and a half ago a nearly torn tendon in my left leg was diagnosed as treatable. Then I came down with atrial fibrillation, but was told not to worry about that because it is treatable! I don’t know how much more room I have in my aging carcass for this treatable shit!

Whether on TV or the radio, I’ve always liked Tom Snyder. I don’t agree with his politics, but he’s always been evocative, entertaining, and a gentleman. I hope he gets the 15 years he’s asking for.

Well, Hey…

A good cause is a good cause.

Losers

I’ve never gotten caught up in the celebrity culture. I think it’s because inherently I’ve known that they are a bunch of losers.

Impressive

A seven-story-high wave damaged a cruise ship returning from the Bahamas over the weekend, smashing windows, flooding more than 60 cabins and injuring four passengers.

That’s not the impressive part, this is:

The wave reached as high as deck 10 on the ship, company spokeswoman Susan Robison said Sunday.

A 70-foot tall wave and it didn’’t break over the top of the cruise ship. Damn, that’s one big ship.

Am I smarter than Jane Galt?

Of course not, but it’s fun to think that in some small little way I was for a 5 minute period.

I make a good living, for a journalist. But it’s not *that* good. I live in a 400 square foot apartment on the ground floor with no light and not even enough room for a microwave. I give over $600 a month to the nice people who lent me the money to go to business school. I can’t afford to fully fund my 401(k), and my budget for things like entertainment, travel, expensive electronics and so forth pretty much doesn’t exist. If I want to save money, or have a treat, I have to do freelance work, such as book reviews.

...

Do you know what my marginal tax rate was on my freelance work? More than fifty percent.

So, how does that make me so smart? I had a chance to pursue freelance writing once, and do have a couple of good (and not so good) articles out there. When I sat down and did the math for the amount of work I put into my work, and what I got out of it, I decided there are better things to do with my life. It took me only about 3 seconds to put the keyboard away.

Denny’s manager fired for exercising free speech

Oops:

Denny’s has apologized to the U.S. Border Patrol for an insulting receipt given to an agent here after he had ordered a grilled chicken sandwich to go.

The receipt, meant for the cook and not the customer, was typed into a cash register by the restaurant’s shift manager and inadvertently given to the agent when he went to pay for the $7.50 order. The receipt described the order as for the “Border Ass Whole.”

The shift manager was fired, which is all well and good. Unfortunately:

Meanwhile, the California-based Friends of the Border Patrol said it will pursue a nationwide boycott of the restaurant chain despite the manager’s termination.

A sfhit manager at Denny’s was stupid. Why do well-intentioned people have to go and compound the stupidity?

I won’t be joining this boycott. However, I won’t be running over to the neighborhood Denny’s to express my anti-support of this other stupidity, because I’m already boycotting Denny’s for other “serious” reasons. When I’m sitting in a restaurant, using real forks and knives, I prefer a salad with my burger, rather than the god-awful starchy thingies these restaurants call “fries”. Every restaurant I’ve been to, except for one, gladly substitutes a salad for the fries. Some will charge me an extra 90 cents or so, and I don’t mind because I’m getting a meal I want to eat. Not so at Denny’s. They will not substitute a salad for the fries. They will not add a side salad for an extra buck. They will not let me order the hamburger a al carte. They will not refund the money I’m spending on the fries I don’t want to eat. I hate Denny’s and refuse to eat there (other than for breakfast when I’m traveling).

All for the want of a salad I don’t care if Denny’s stays in business or not because they are not a customer-friendly kind of place. However, a nationwide boycott after the guilty party was fired on the same day seems stupid. Count me out.

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