Saturday, December 30, 2006

Death, and its dangers

"Because of the exceedingly great length of the war ... many had become hardened, because of the exceedingly great length of the war; and many were softened because of their afflictions"

No two people will respond identically to every situation. Some relationships are deepend by a crisis; others, destroyed. Some collapse under great stress; others cannot reach their full potential without it.

Just as, in the words of Ecclesiastes - or, if you prefer, the Byrds - there is "a time to kill, a time to heal, a time to rend, a time to sew"...there is someone who leads the way. In war we seek the best warriors; in misery we seek those who comfort us best. In folly we assume one cannot do both, but some of the stories that have most heartened me from Iraq have come from warriors who are also great humanitarians.

In an event as significant as the execution of Saddam Hussein, a wide range of reactions is inevitable. Some feel it is never right to kill, even someone as monstrous as Saddam. Others, that he got off easy with a simple hanging and should have been given a death commensurate with his crimes. Friends may disagree, some so much the friendship will end. Certainly many friendships have ended since September 11, 2001, over deep disagreements as to who we are, and who we should be.

The great tragedy is, it is only through greater unity that we will survive this struggle. We will have differences, but how we deal with those differences will either unite us in a common cause, or dangerously weaken us.

I certainly sympathize - in my initial reaction I remembered an Orson Scott Card story and wished aloud that we could clone and kill him a few million times. In "A Thousand Deaths," society had developd a way to snapshot and store a consciousness and then downloaded it into a new body. This could be done even at the moment of death, which in this story gave capital punishment a new twist. You could kill a man over and over, and have him remember every moment - truly a cruel and unusual fate. But in the process, something is lost - and not just the inevitability and irremediability of death. Those who commit the Groundhog Day executions lose their humanity, even as the repeatedly-condemned grows jaded. Death becomes irrelevant; dying loses its sting.

John Donne's "any man's death diminishes me" has lost some of its punch through misuse and over-use, but remains true - even the death of Stalin's Mesopotamian acolyte, because of my initial reaction to it. The last laugh of a man such as Saddam is to sow the seeds of callousness that enabled his own seven-figure body count. But like a certain decision scientist, Saddam Hussein is "human" to me.

I do support capital punishment. I believe any culture that cannot kill in its own defense is at the mercy of those that can. When someone murders, they have harmed not just that person, not only their family and friends, but the very community. If crimes are not punished, then law loses power; where law is lost, there is no civilization. When the crime is severe enough to threaten the community's existence, execution can be seen as killing in self-defense. European countries, which have abolished the death penalty and practically made self-defense a crime, are now increasingly at the mercy of encroaching Islamism within their borders. If you won't kill to defend yourself, you end up at the mercy of those who will kill over cartoons and documentaries.

Execution can also be murder, though. Thie French Revolution comes to mind. But beyond that--what separates honorable warfare from common murder is state of mind. Our modern military has some of the best men and women of our generation, but we have also seen some scoundrels. Significantly, those who hate these scoundrels most are those who wear the same uniforms, who take pride in their service and the constitution they are sworn to defend.

In like manner, I know some who currently serve, who appreciate the support of those back home but who think some of the more "bloodthirsty" on the home front need to "chill." They're not just about killing the bad guys; they take greater pride in those they're saving and serving. It is easier for me to cry for vengeance, because I am not the instrument of vengeance. It is easy for me to chortle at the death of a dictator whose only impact on me personally has been high gas prices and good material. My laughter comes at small cost.

Those who are still raking through heaps of sand to find remains of their loved ones killed by Saddam, they have earned the right to react as they do - and most of them are responding with greater dignity. For them, his death means a permanent end to the fear that he will return. I watched him in the trial; Saddam was charismatic, defiant, and convinced that "without me, Iraq is nothing" - among his last words yesterday, according to some reports. I know why the people feared his return; until the end, he believed he would - and he wasn't alone.

But again - the death of a genocidal despot diminishes me more because of my reaction. Is my thirst sated, or do I crave more? I cheered Zarkawi's death. Every Al Qaeda leader turned into a grease stain by American ingenuity, I celebrate. There are bad people who will seek to kill my country to their last breath, who need to be stopped. But in the process of stopping them, I fear the loss of what we are spending our precious blood to defend - our national character.

It's one reason why, as I've thought about yesterday, I'm most heartened by the process the Iraqi's took. They did it by the book. They gave Saddam more than ample opportunity to spout off in his own defense. They didn't give up when lawyers and judges were assassinated; they continued the process. They didn't throw him into a pile of ravenous hyenas wearing a suit of bacon. In the brief snippet of video I saw, it was conducted with dignity and solemnity.

"Iraq is nothing without me." But that isn't what I saw. I saw no rage, no bloodlust, no lynching. I saw civilization defending itself - not just from Saddam, but from the very culture of death in which he saturated them for decades.

I celebrate that, but with no humor. Only a prayer that the long night of Iraqi sorrows will end soon, that the taste for blood will turn sour, and that peace will reign in a troubled land.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

IowaHawk does it again

If there isn't an Internet term for what Iowahawk does, there should be.

In his latest mockpuppet theater of the absurd, he inhabits the id of Joseph Rago, the WSJ editor who dissed the blogosphere last week.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Lewinski in teh news

The news that Monica Lewinski earned a M.A. from the London School of Economics is...news, apparently.

I don't really want to talk about that.

What I did want to mention was something I just noticed - the Washington Post allows comments on articles now. The results are about what you'd expect.

It doesn't seem to matter what the topic is - everyone with an opinion on SOMETHING will find a way to use the article at hand as a launching point for their particular soapbox.

The column on Lewinski is a snarky bit of riffing on "smart but dumb" and "dumb but smart" that name-drops celebs in every sentence. It's not a great article, but it's got plenty to respond to, and people do.

Boy, do they.

Yes, an article that features Jessica Simpson's mom talking about "jessica's, like, 160 freakin' IQ" - thankfully, we're not treated to her dad's drooling comments about her rockin' body - is enough for a number of commenters to ask "why not talk about how we entered Iraq under false pretenses."

Okay. I guess it's relevant - readers who are dumb and dumber.

I spend yesterday listening to Orson Scott Card's latest book, Empire. He suggests a possible scenario for a red/blue, rural/urban, wackjob left/wackjob right civil war complete with assassination of the president and the potential end of the Republic (hence "Empire"). I could quibble with some of his characterizations, but he points out the poisonous rhetoric of the current state of our *cough* "union", which hasn't been this toxic since the 1850s.

I'd like to say "yeah, right" to such a book. But reading the carnival of idiocy that passes for 95% of the commentary on the WP's stories, drowning out what could have been interesting debate from the other 5%, I confess he has a point.

So...congratulations, Monica Lewinski, on your academic achievement. Unlike your smart-but-dumb former boyfriend, you appear to have truly moved on, and I wish you every success. Ignore the jibber-jabbering classes and enjoy your life.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Heroes

I lost most of my Saturday last week to nbc.com, which as a "public service" provides free, full-content access to some of their programming.

One of them, a drama called "Heroes," ate my Saturday.

It's an interesting premise, but not revolutionary in fiction: some ordinary humans are, or soon will no longer be, merely ordinary. The X-Men is just one example. The 4400 is another. Smallville uses kryptonite to impact not just Clark Kent, but half the town. There is a bit of each in this, with a touch of Highlander thrown in as well.

In Heroes, a brilliant but controversial Indian geneticist pursues a theory that mankind is on the cusp of the next stage of evolution, and that there may already be those whose DNA is over the hump and giving them powers the rest of us can imagine. He also believes he can track the places where those with these abilities will appear, so he leaves his teaching post to become a New York Cabbie - where, in the 8 million stories of the naked city, he manages to find the needles in the haystack.

And dies. (Hey, he's a New York cabbie.) His son, also a geneticist, follows him to NYC to find answers re his father's death, and to pursue - or run away from - his father's work.

(super)Naturally, there's something to Dad's theories. All over the world, there are people who in recent weeks have discovered some surprising abilities. Some are pretty cool; others, horrifying. Some have the ability whether they want it or not; others cannot call upon theirs at will, and some have to indulge in self-destructive behavior to see their abilities manifest themselves.

All eventually find their lives complicated by this. Flying would be cool, but if you're running for Congress, you don't want that to get out. Reading minds would be great in police work, but if you can't control it, public places are overwhelming. Being unkillable would seem sweet, but if you're in high school where everyone THINKS they're indestructible already, you're going to be even more stupid by nature.

Some abilities are inexplicable. One becomes a human radiation factory when his emotions get out of control. One has no powers of his own, but shares the powers of whoever he's near. This can be life-saving or cataclysmic, depending on who you stand next to.

At least one character has the ability to accrue the genetic quirks of others (in a rather grisly way) and so goes on a nationwide killing spree.

And where there is a Superman, there is a Lex Luthor, or a shadowy organization to stop, or control, those with extraordinary abilities.

There have been 11 episodes so far. It moves too bloody slow. I should have waited until after the season was over, like many 24 watchers do. I inhaled all 11 episodes at once, and then yelled at my monitor because of where it left me.

But...it's a good pain. For all its faults, it's interesting, and I bonded with a few of the characters.

so...if you have some time to kill in this holiday season, head over to nbc.com and click Video. It's free, the commercial interruptions aren't bad, and the video quality is fine.

Just steer clear of Conan O'Brien. His online content makes his TV show look tame, and that's saying something.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Weird Al Yankovic curb stomps homeless dork

Courtesy of Joeschmo, here is a link to an interview Weird Al Yankovic conducted with someone named Kay Fed.

The normally affable Al runs this Kay Fed fellow through a verbal wood chipper, mocking his album, music video, tattoo, parenting skills, inability to breathe through his nostrils, and so on.

And this, after the young man complimented Al's new album, "Straight Outta Lynwood." Not very sporting.

Yankovic is a true gentlemen in the music industry - a koala in hamster's (Hawaiian) clothing. Whatever this Kay Fed chap has done to get on Al's bad side, must have been severe to have earned him such a thrashing.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas Letter 2005

Attention People of Earth:

As 2005 draws to a close, Domus Cornelius is still standing.

Our second burglary in as many years has led to more enhanced security for the New Year. We now have bars on the windows, deadbolts on the doors, and venomous spiders lurking within every crevice. The skulls of our would-be robbers now line the electrified front yard fence facing the middle school across the street. The neighbors assume we’re too lazy to take down our Halloween Heads on Pikes display. Heh.

In an effort to replace her stolen photography business equipment, Cornelia has found work at a local bookstore. The only downside is that Sulla’s biblioholic mama is on another continent and cannot take full advantage of the employee discount. (They miss you terribly, Mom.) Cornelia is enjoying the work, and has already begun buying new equipment.

Cornelia’s photography business continues to grow, and has even found an unlikely bounty – a mother-daughter team of apprentices, who learn eagerly and work cheaply.

Sulla’s stuff, which has once again been deemed too uncool to steal, remains intact, beyond the usual loss and damage from his clogging-manatee-in-china-shop nature.

Sulla emerged from the latest reorganization at work as the “old man” on the team, and is now refreshing his programming skills. His position keeps him chained to his desk through all but the most Transylvanian of hours, but his ever-patient honey hasn’t yet changed the locks; she lets him in the door each night, and sends him off the following day with many hugs and kisses.

After a very busy summer, Sulla and Cornelia managed a few short vacations – a day trip to Catalina with friend Marcia, three quiet days in Solvang, and the occasional exotic getaway jaunts to the Barnes and Noble at the Ragnarok Town Center. Their only brush on the wrong side of the law was a wrong turn at the Mexican border, en route to the "ugliest state park in America" – which, trust us, lived up to the hype – but the officer took pity on us when he saw our not-quite-helpful Mapquest directions.

Thanks to a crack team of health professionals, we’re feeling and faring much better than we were this time last year. 2005 has been a year of tremendous growth for us both, and we have much to be grateful for.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year. Sulla reminds you to back up your crucial data often, to avoid opening email attachments you didn’t ask for, and to do some research before forwarding that Virus Alert message. Snopes.com is your friend.

You really care? Okay...Christmas Letter 2006

Oh my.

I haven't checked my site in a couple of days. I didn't get any comments the day I posted so I figured there was no interest.

I'm going to have to hunt down last year's "heads on pikes" letter, but I promise to post it.

Here is this year's. Like I said - probably won't live up to the hype.

In the comments, if you'd like to share your favorite - or most hated - moments in Holiday Letters, go for it.

Merry Christmas, blessed ChrisWanzaaKuh. Grab the Festivus pole while I air my grievances....

*

I’m told it’s time for another year-end letter. This version does not feature Sulla’s disastrous early attempts at haiku, double dactyl, sestina, or iambic pentameter. The Country ballad? Don’t even ask. So, put on your prose hats for our look back on 2006.

Cornelia’s silver VW New Beetle, which was never the same after 2004’s twin terrors of Interstate 405 and the repair shop that “fixed” it, finally breathed its last in February. We promptly turned around and purchased…a silver VW New Beetle.

Cornelia learned her new car is sturdier than the old one when she backed it into the flowerbed in front of our house. (The flowerbed lost.) Our city, in an effort to make our little corner of Ragnarok prettier, offered a home improvement grant which let us not only repair the flower bed, but also paint the house. Our stale-pumpkin-tart color scheme is gone; the cool spearmint-green with a dark green trim is a vast improvement. Our friends at first had trouble finding us because “look for the place with the butt-ugly paint job” no longer applied.

Our extreme home makeover has impressed the neighborhood burglary community so much that they’ve left our stuff more or less alone. Yes, we’ve had our first burglary-free year of our marriage (knock on wood), so our only property loss came from Sulla’s tendencies to (1) forget where he left things and (2) drop electronic stuff into, um, water.

Cornelia’s photography business continues to grow; she had more jobs than she did last year, and expanded her services to selling landscape photography to local stores. Cornelia isn’t pulling a profit yet, but she’s covering expenses, and has almost finished replacing her burgled equipment. Word of mouth remains her only advertising, and that keeps her busy enough.

Sulla has been an overtime machine this year, outlasting many of his younger and saner coworkers. He earnestly hopes it won’t last forever. His company did assign him a laptop this year, though, so he can work from home or the intensive care unit.

In spite of Sulla’s crushing schedule, Cornelia has managed to pull him away from the veal pen for a few short trips out of town. She has always been the more eager traveler, so when Sulla was stuck at work she occasionally imported friends from out of state. But next month Sulla and Cornelia will enjoy their first major vacation - Sulla’s first since high school - when they travel to China. Cornelia won’t let him bring a computer.

She did make him buy a camera, though. Apparently his cell phone isn’t sufficiently camera-like for traveling. He picked up a point-and-shoot that (1) includes a strap to connect to his jacket so he won’t lose it, like his mom used to do with his mittens, and (2) is waterproof. Cornelia knows her honey.

All in all, we’re relatively healthy and we still like each other; the rest is gravy. Next year promises to be turbulent, but “happily ever after” is how we’ve determined to face whatever life throws at us. It’s worked pretty well so far.

With love, from Sulla and Cornelia
December, 2006

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas Letters

We were too broke for Christmas cards our first year together, but last year we sent some out. My wife asked me to write it, so I threw something together.

My first draft was not serious. I expected her to say, " 'heads on pikes' has no place in a Christmas letter!" and hand it back for a rewrite...or give up and write it herself.

Instead, she loved it as is, and before I could ask what she thought, it had been mailed to a dozen or so friends and family.

As feedback poured in, there was a lot of outrage - that so and so got a copy but they didn't, and they'd BETTER be included this year.

Why? I assume because the family letter tradition has become, "here's why OUR family kicks YOUR family's ass." My family grew up laughing at letters like this, and fantasized about writing the anti-letter. When my turn came, I went with it.

Who knew? It worked. This year I'm screwed - how do you fake disinterest?

So I Iron Chef'ed it. One hour, one page, stop when the clock goes Ding.

Time will tell.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Food pr0n

I used to joke at restaurants that if the burger I ordered didn't make my arm go numb, I'd want my money back.

I've just met my match: The Heart Attack Grill, in Tempe, AZ.

Not only do they have a "quadruple bypass burger," their waitresses are nurses. Not just ANY nurse, neither: Shannon Tweed candy-striper Showtime After Dark HELLLOOOO NURSE! nurses.

If you FINISH one of the restaurant's cholesterolic WMDs, "Helllooo, Nurse!" will wheel you out to your car.

A director of a nursing advocacy group, Sandy Summers, is outraged - not for the health of the restaurants' "patients" but for the objectification of the "nurses" as smokin' hot dispensers of tender loving care with a heaping side of lard-fried taters.

Priorities. "Eat what you want, Jabba, but keep your eyes to yourself. Perv."

I imagine Summers is a ninja with a tongue depressor.

(hat tip Ace)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Boo Terfly is a LIER!

A certain gerbilly butterfly said she'd be posting on my site as soon as a certain dreaded Hoffy visage fell off the home page.

I don't see no steenking flutterby.



I'm so ronery...

My boring so-called blog

My co-conspirators at Teh Squeaky Wheel have far better blogs than I do.

They write because they have interesting things to say, independent of Gerbil Nation.

Me, I have the most fun playing off other people. Spouting off on my own blog was never part of my plans; I signed up for this domain name years ago, but I've done squat with it.

I feel like Howie Mandel. "Okay, someone give me an occupation. Okay, now give me a situation. Cool - now give me something funny to do!"

I'm just not funny on command. My humor tends to pop up when least expected...and desired.

Inappropriateness is half the fun. When a tree falls inappropriately in a forest when nobody's around, then it's just wasted effort.

I want to be the tree that falls in the forest, right on top of the Prius parked next to a Hummer. If there's one thing Nature abhors more than a vacuum, it's a smug little hybrid.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Merry Frischmas

Teh Squeaky Wheel notes the latest in the ongoing legal troubles of Dr. Deborah Frisch, whose occupation until recently was, ironically, teaching decision science.

I've had my share of fun at her expense, and I've swapped plenty of insults with her in the months following her Independence Day meltdown. But though I'm glad that she is being held to account for her actions - she has caused a lot of pain to a lot of people the past six months, and for years before that as the "word warrior" - I still feel for her.

One of the comments she made to Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom that shocked me into interest in her was when she said to him, "you're not human to me." Six months later, after all I've seen of her, she is still human to me. A messed up human, to be sure. But I can't take much joy in her troubles, and I pray that one day her downward slide will end, and she'll find some measure of a peaceful life.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

BOOM goes the dynamite!

Much as I like WordPress - which Blogger doesn't use but which I use for other blogs - I always fear the "upgrade to latest" notification.

Note to self: learn how to back up databases.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

This should keep me busy for a while.

1. import list into Excel.
2. Sort by size.
3. Mark books read.
4. Read, mark, read, mark...
4. Weep like my brother during the "lava-roasted Annakin" scene when there are no worlds left to conquer.

All lists like this have their biases. In my hardcore sci-fi days I was frequently told, "you're not a REAL sf fan unless you've read [x]." Sometimes, I enjoyed the book recommended; other times, I wondered what the dude was smoking to think it was worth anyone's time.

There are many reasons to read a book: entertainment, nourishment, knowledge, wisdom, inspiration, distraction, titillation, self-justification, outrage, etc. Some reasons are better than others, but I know I couldn't survive on an exclusive diet of classics - every so often I need a technothriller or a farce.

What would you add/remove on this list, and why? I don't see the Bible listed, for example - a ridiculous omission for anyone hoping to understand Western culture, whether or not you're Christian. Ditto the Koran; who would fight - or oppose - the philosophical front of the War on Terror without understanding a foundational text of the enemy?

Consider: 1001 books works out to one book every month for 83 and a half years, or two a month for 42 years (approximately). At my age, that's the latter. Do I really want to commit the totality of my free time to this list?

In a word, no. So I'm accepting suggestions.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Homosexualist Alert

The BBC reports that singer Elton John had words for Australian PM John Howard.

This from the guy who will probably sing "Goodbye, Cuba's Rose" at Fidel's funeral.

Perhaps Elton and John could settle their differences in a boxing ring.

Saturday night's all right for fighting, is it not?

'Apocalypto' Now?

Fox News says 'Apocalypto' Is More 'Mad Max' Than Mayan.

Bummer.

I was looking forward to this movie. Gibson even had a Maya scholar consulting him. But the result, while I'm sure will be visually stunning, will also be visually numbing.

I like a good "heads roll" shot as much as the next drive-in movie fan. But there does come a saturation point, at which you either tune out in disgust, or tune out disgust itself.

Rome had a similar choice to make. They went with the latter, and their coliseum became drenched with the blood of countless victims, even as they diminished daily as a people.

Fighting, and killing, in defense of your self, family, homeland, ideals, freedoms - that's one thing. Hunting for food, again, there's a point to it. But killing as spectator sport? It's an adrenaline rush with no value or purpose.

Unlike old Rome, at least Gibson's body count is virtual...

For now.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Traffic Magnet

I try to write something marginally serious, and get bupkis.

Guess I'll have to break out the big guns.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Andrew Sullivan: Homosexualist

Ace of Spades calls Sullivan out on his own addlepated hypocrisy.

Won't do much good - Sullivan never met a criticism he didn't go nuclear over - but it's nice to see the ranks of people seeing Sullivan for what he is.

If only to see Andrew's head explode like that dude on SCANNERS, I'm pushing hard for a Romney/Santorum 2008 ticket.

Looking forward to 2008

We've had a few weeks to digest the house and senate races, and the subsequent scramble for the reshuffled "deck chairs on the Hindenburg," still in progress.

I've read many recaps of What Happened. Most agree that it was a referendum on President Bush and the war in Iraq.

But I'm not so sure.

Many of the Republican officeholders who lost, frankly, deserved to. The problem was that they all came up for reelection at the same time. In a year when even one less loss in the GOP column would have led to a Dick Cheney-led tiebreaking majority, we had such luminaries as Lincoln Chafee and Mike DeWine up for re-election, and George Allen spending too much thought on his 2008 presidential hopes than on his 2006 challenger. I like Jim Talent and Rick Santorum, but their seats were given priority handling as well.

Sen. Chuck Schumer played a smart game of candidate selection, going for raw numbers more than ideological purity. Jim Webb in Virginia, Bob Casey in Pennsylvania - neither are Hillary Clinton liberals. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton liberals such as Jimmy Carter's son in Nevada got stomped convincingly.

The House, too, was played using a "just win" strategy by Rahm Emmanuel, who only supported candidates who had a chance of winning, and who were adept at pulling in serious financing. Ideology mattered less than sheer winnability. This ruthless strategy resulted in victories in seats that would have otherwise been safe holds for the GOP.

I give the Dems - and Schumer and Emmanuel in particular - credit for making the most of their opportunities. However, the opportunities were there only because individual GOP legislators, and the GOP-led legislature as a whole, failed miserably with their base, and offered nothing of value to the electorate beyond "we're not Democrats." Financial and ethical scandals hit Republicans differently, because when our scandals become public, we cut them loose. (Duke Cunningham? gone. Mark Foley? gone, even as the country applauded Dem Gerry Studds, who refused to give up his seat in the face of far worse charges. Tom DeLay? Gone. Democrat William Jefferson? Still insisting he's got a place in Congress, despite cash hidden in his office freezer.)

Dems often claim they're more ethical. But from Bill Clinton on down, when charged with corruption or even caught red-handed, they double down and circle the wagons, while the Republicans more often than not lead the effort to push their own out the door.

The problem in 2006 is that too many Republicans at once deserved the heave-ho. We shoot ourselves in the foot, we can't blame the press for taking advantage. As Hugh Hewitt has said, "if it's not close, they can't cheat." We let it get close by our own leaders' actions. Even Denny Hastert, GOP Speaker twice as long as Newt Gingrich, threw away his speakership by (1) becoming well known this year, for (2) defending corruption. Worse yet, he went to the wall battling the executive branch over William Jefferson.

The GOP legislature in 2006 was not just awash in well-publicized corruption. It was hamstrung by its own stupidity.

Now What?

So now we have Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Reid. Pelosi promised the most ethical congress in history, which ended before it begins in January - she pushed John Murtha for majority leader, and is still pushing Alcee Hastings over Jane Harmon as Intelligence Committee chair. Her first big move as Speaker-elect was stomped like a Napa valley grape. meanwhile, Harry Reid, simply by being Majority leader, is evidence of corruption at the top.

Looking at the next two years, there are two possibilities: the Democrats will learn from the GOP's mistakes, work with President Bush, get things passed, and claim credit for "getting the country working again." The president has already indicated an interest in working with the new congress to enact his agenda, and immigration reform is one area where he may have better luck with the Dems than with the GOP. (Not in a good way, I fear.) There will undoubtedly be clashes, over judicial and other appointments, but in many ways Bush is a Big Government politician, and the Dems rarely met a spending bill they didn't like.

However...

The Democrats have been out of power for 12 years. Some feel they were robbed in 1994, and have been robbed every 2 years since, and they have twelve years of catching up to do now that they are back where they BELONG.

Even when they were in the minority, the Democrats - with forty years of uninterrupted ownership of the House - never stopped acting like a majority party. They were used to being in charge, and always treated the House as their own, but were being denied their chairmanships by "a tantrum" (Peter Jennings) that renewed itself five more times before the people finally "got smart again" (Bill Clinton) and returned to the proper, natural order.

The temptation to play catch-up will be great. With idiots like John Conyers in a position to play Let's Impeach the President in an actual committee room, rather than in the basement with a plastic gavel, the next two years could become a melange of investigations, hearings, witch hunts, and paybacks.

If that happens, then 2006 will be the best thing that could have happened to the GOP. Losing in an off-year election means there are two years to see what the Democrats have learned in their twelve years in the minority. If they indulge their instincts, then 2008 will see them destroyed.

One thing that may mitigate that instinct: there are some preservation-minded folks who know the danger. They are vested in reclaiming the White House in two years, and that means putting their best face forward. (Just my premature opinion, but if they nominate Hillary, they will lose. Badly. Likewise John Kerry. Senators often win the nomination but rarely win the presidency.) If the smart and ruthless likes of Rahm Emmanuel manage to kneecap the Conyers wing of their party, they might be able to hold or expand their numbers in the House, regardless of what happens with the presidency.

As bad as the GOP was this year, they still didn't lose as big as they could have. They lost some good people, but also a lot of well-deserved dead wood. I dearly hope that the GOP will clean its own house, regroup, and re-sell itself to the American people, led by a new presidential nominee who represents the best the party can offer.

But that's another topic.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

You're Pitiful

Nice mashup of Reno and Weird Al Yankovic:

Monday, November 20, 2006

Great moments in apology, part 27

Driver in gas station: "Didn't you see me backing up?"?

Me: "I was boxed in. And honking at you to stop before you hit me."

Driver: "Oh. I didn't hear you. I was on my way to work and sh*t. Doesn't look that bad...."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

el perro del diablo

I returned home from an early morning doctor appointment today to find a Chihuahua on my front lawn.

At least the Taco Bell dog has panache. This two-pound yapping vermin wasn't at all neighborly.

So, no more jokes about rat dogs, since they appear when I reference them.

From now on I'm joking only about supermodels and generous billionaires.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What does it say about you...

when someone says, "somehow in the back of my head I just knew you had all the Taco Bell talking rats..."

and somehow, in the back of my head, I know exactly what it means to fit that description.

Ai chihuahua...

Random thoughts for a Thursday morning

I'm tired.

I don't have to look at the dial to know what station I'm on - all the KFI (AM 640 Los Angeles) news readers sound like Leah Brandon. Brandon sounds like the sister of John Ziegler, who sounds like the kissing cousin of John and Ken, who suckled at the vocal teat of Bill Handel.

When you tune in to KFI, you know it.

I tuned in to AM 870, home of Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt and Michael Savage. Same thing. hosts sound like news readers sound like bump announcers.

I tuned into Air America, but the whiplash effect of stroke-inducing rage and narcoleptic boredom is a bad thing to groove on while driving.

Station branding goes deeper than I realized.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

*tap tap* is this thing on?

It has been brought to my attention that I have a blog.

*cough* kinda dusty in here.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Debbie at the Blog

It's funny how even the blackest clouds can have silver linings.

For every Deborah Frisch, there should be a donthiredeb.blogspot.com. Every crazed troll (Left, Right, or off-center) should have a page devoted to tracking them like my uncle logs Bigfoot sightings.

Granted, low-hanging fruitcakes like Frisch are rare - educated far beyond her intelligence, BDS'ed to incoherence, and so extreme in her efforts to outrage that even though her comments section looks like a never-ending blanket party, it's still hard to feel sorry for her.

The folks at Don't Hire Deb got their start just trying to document for any prospective employer the things she says for public consumption, since a PhD seeking a tenure track position would almost certainly be hired in the hopes that they would bring CREDIT to their fine institution, and her online commenting habits might be more of a liability, especially if they later got on her bad side.

But a funny thing happened on the way to baiting the moonbat. A community sprang up. Friendships formed. A good time was had by all.

Show up for the latest news of "teh crazy®". Stick around for the pleasant company. Whatever your ideology, we can all pretty much agree that Deb is off her rocker.

And who knows...with that as a starting point, we might find even more to agree on.

Deb likes to express herself "poetically." With that in mind, I penned an homage to the recent online dustup, which originally appeared in the comments (later dubbed the Frischmas Eve Poetry Slam) at Don't Hire Deb.


Debbie At The Blog
(apologies to Ernest L. Thayer)

The outlook wasn't happy for the leftist blogosphere,
The protein wisdom juggernaut was like a truck to deer.

And when lefties got their hineys stomped, and anti-semites too
A funereal silence stalked the taunters of the Jew.

The folks from Sadly, No got up to go in deep despair.
From Thersites to Actus? Protein Wisdom didn't care.
They thought, "if only Debbie could but get a whack at that.
We'd put up even money now, with Deb the Proud Moonbat."

Then Deb went after Israel, and called herself a pet,
but comment standards were too high for Deb's soused wit to get.

So upon that leftist multitude grim melancholy stirred,
for there seemed no happy sign of fight from the warrior of word.

So Jeff ignored her ramblings to no great surprise of all,
And Deb, the much reviled, added gall, to gall, to gall.

And when the night had lifted,
and folks saw what had occurred,
there was Ramsey in the comments, from the warrior of word.

Then from five thousand blogs and more there rouse an outraged yell;
it enraged the Right in heaven, it appalled the Left in hell;

it pounded through the mile-high burgh and recoiled in old Eugene;
for Debbie, Doctor Debbie, had surpassed herself in mean.

There was wine in Debbie's system as she staggered to her chair,
there was pride in Debbie's bearing as she thought Colbert would care.

And when, responding to the jeers, she shouted to 'my peeps,'
no stranger in the crowd could doubt Deb's act gave them the creeps.

A thousand eyes were on her as she looked for folks to sue
A thousand comments blazed back that her hubris she would rue.

Then, as Jeff's expert lawyer covered bases one by one,
defiance flashed in Debbie's eye. She made a vodka run.

And now the judge's order came a-hurtling through the air,
and Debbie rocked while clutching it in haughty grandeur there.

Straight from the county sheriff, the RO barely read,
"I got a list --" said Debbie.

"Shut up!" her lawyer said.
From the Blogspot, thick with posters, there went up a muffled roar,
like the beating of the storm waves on a stern and distant shore.

"The crowd from VBS is mean!" anonymous demands,
and it's likely they'd have flamed him had not Debbie raised her hands.

Her blissed-out buzz was fading fast, her pitch-black aura shone,
she hit the keyboard one more time and bade the game go on.

She posted Dave Duchoveny, and once more the heckling flew,
but Debbie rapped with "Steve Colbert," as though the folks were through.

"Heh!" cried the online razzers, and some echoed "Heh. Indeed!"
Then one "plushy" pic from Debbie and they thought she'd switched to weed.

They'd said her monkey humped teh seal, they said she'd gone insane,
and they knew that Debbie couldn't let Teh Cycle ® wane again.

The sneer has fixed to Debbie's lip, the teeth are clenched in rage.
She pounds, with cruel violence, the keys that fill the page.

In court, his lawyer hits F5, and when Hizzoner grants,
He fills the courtroom's corners with latest South()paw rants.

Oh, somewhere in the Scholar's world the Left is taking flight.
Ward Churchill's speaking somewhere, and somewhere there's no Right.
And, somewhere men are silenced, and Sapphic women shout,

but there is no joy in Frischville --
Doctor Debbie has flunked out.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Hot-tubbing in madness

I'm more of a lurker than a participant in the Great Online Conversation, but the past month has sucked me into a truly bizarre spectacle.

Dr. Deb Frisch, a self-proclaimed Moonbat and "the Ann Coulter of the Left," decided to stir up trouble and get herself banned from Protein Wisdom, a site run by Jeff Goldstein.

He didn't ban her. But her comments became outrageous enough to prompt her to submit her resignation to the University of Arizona, and her continuing comments on her own website, on Protein Wisdom, and in the comments of other blogs, earned her a temporary restraining order last Thursday.

The initial situation has been mentioned on Fox News, in a number of newspapers, and on countless websites. She has been immortalized in the Urban Dictionary as a verb and adjective. Dr. Frisch's subsequent antics have been less thoroughly covered, but a website dedicated to spreading the word of her behavior in her own words, Don't Hire Dr. Deborah Frisch,
will keep any univerity's HR division occupied for hours.

Unfortunately, Dr. Frisch scoffs at suggestions that her words are costing her dearly.

I do hope that she'll learn soon. She's invested a lot of time and money in that fancy education (in, of all things, decision science) and it's a shame to see her efforts sacrificed on the altar of her raging ego.

But...it's also compelling, in a cataclysmic sort of way. Rarely in the history of the Internet as someone so publicly, so thoroughly, sullied their own reputations, and each day she finds ways to further muddy her prospects. At first there were earnest pleas for her to seek help. Then, as her legal situation darkened, offered sound legal advice. Now, most of the well-meaning comments on her site have dried up, and the jackals descend, urging her to keep up "teh crazy".

I know now what it must be like to be in the audience at the Jerry Springer show. You wouldn't want to be those idiots on stage, but dang they're entertaining to watch.