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Monthly Archives: March 2005

Mail Bag

March 31st, 2005 - 2:10 pm

Blogger & author Todd A sent me a copy of his first novel, Being Good, a few weeks back.

This is the book I tried – and mostly failed – to write eight years ago. Fun, funny, and shocking. Just keep it away from your wife and/or girlfriend, because she’d learn too many of our Most Sacred Guy Secrets from reading it.

Highly recommended.

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Fact Check

March 31st, 2005 - 12:01 pm

Tom Friedman needs to stop using poker analogies:

And this poker hand is seven-card stud, no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em.

If you don’t know, in Seven Card Stud, each player is dealt seven cards. Two down, then four up, then one down. There is betting after each card is dealt, starting with the first up card.

Texas Hold’em is an entirely different beast. Each player is dealt two cards, down. There is betting. Then “the flop,” where a set of three “community cards” is revealed. More betting. A fourth community card (“the turn”). A fifth community card (“the river”). Final bets, as each player tries to build the best possible hand, using any combinaion of his two hole cards and the community cards.

They’re both great games, but they have little in common other than the deck. Friedman would have made as much sense if he’d written, “And this ball game is full-contact football, the NBA’s All-Star Game.”

You’d think a major newspaper wouldn’t allow such silly errors.

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March 31st, 2005 - 1:11 am

The next Blogger Bash is this Saturday at the Denver Press Club. And it’s not just for bloggers – it’s for readers, too.

In an effort to boost non-blogger attendence, I make this solemn vow: If you’re a reader I’ve never met before, the first drink is on me.

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Required Reading

March 31st, 2005 - 12:31 am

Incumbents are the bad guys.”

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Not Work Safe

March 31st, 2005 - 12:25 am

Lili G of Eroticalee sent me an email ages ago, but I forgot to reply. My bad.

But Lili has one good photoblog. And when I say good, I mean hot. Click on over — just not on work time.

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Once More into the Morass

March 30th, 2005 - 11:43 pm

“Only now, at the end, do you understand…”

Not exactly wise words, and certainly uninspiring ones. Geeks will know where the quote comes from – but I chose not to embarrass myself by identifying it for everyone else. Those were the words that came to me when I read that Terry Shiavo’s feeding tube had been removed.

Only I don’t understand. Not at all. I understand all the little details, but the big picture is as elusive as what’s going on in whatever is left of Terry’s mind.

Here’s what I know.

My own wishes. If the time comes for me, I want the plug pulled. I want the respirator switched off. I want the feeding tube removed. I’ve always felt this way, but recently the point was driven home. Two Decembers ago I held the hand of the husk that had once been my grandfather, only moments after the doctor had removed his breathing tube – as dictated in his living will. Grandpa remained warm as I watched the numbers all drop to zero. I think in that moment we both found some peace. I’d want the same for my family.

Terry’s wishes. Young and foolish – the two are basically synonymous, and I mean no insult – Terry never made her wishes known. Or if she did, she did so only off-handedly and to only one person. If you want to be kept alive by any and all means, that’s your call. Get a lawyer to write it down for you. If you don’t, then ditto; but underlined and boldfaced. Terry didn’t, and that’s the main reason we are in her mess. If that sounds cruel, it’s a kindness compared her situation.

Terry’s parent’s wishes. Frankly, I find their hope for their daughter’s recovery to be sad and misguided. But that’s my own personal opinion, based on my own wishes – and not necessarily on Terry’s actual condition. We’ve all read conflicting reports on whether or not she’s actually brain dead. I believe she is, but I could be mistaken. My beliefs (or yours) should not in any way impact on what Bob and Mary Schindler choose to think.

Terry’s husband’s wishes. Michael Shiavo seems like a cad. That’s a snap judgment based on what little I’ve seen of him on the news, but it’s one I can’t shake. What he looks like to me is someone who would rather be seen as a tragic widower than a man who divorced his sick wife. However: Michael wants Terry’s feeding tube removed and Florida law gives primacy in this decision to the husband, cad or not. Do I agree with him? Yes, I do. Should that matter one whit? No, it should not.

Here’s what I don’t know.

Is the Florida law just? Certainly, it isn’t to the Schindlers.

What would Terry want? We have only her husband’s say so.

Is Terry really and truly brain dead? Very few can really say for sure, and not even they all agree.

The rest of this essay I shouldn’t write (or at least not publish) but will, anyway. You’ve been warned.

So what if Terry Shiavo starves to death? What are a score of days of slightly increased agony, compared to fifteen years of agony, to be compounded by another fifteen? Or thirty? Or fifty? I see no nobility in suffering for suffering’s sake. I do see that needless suffering is all that Terry (if there’s any Terry left in there at all) has to look forward to.

I get no joy from her death. I get no satisfaction from “my side” “winning” the “debate.” All I see is a sad end to a sad life – and none of it had to be this way. I hear a lot of sound and fury about how Terry represents some noble ideal to some crowd or other.

“Death with dignity!”

“Right to life!”

“You’re evil!”

“No, you’re evil!”

Oh, shut up already, all of you.

There’s no good here.

There’s no winning.

There’s only the shell of a girl who was once beautiful, who suffers needlessly in life and will suffer needlessly in death – whether her death is 15 minutes or 50 years from now. Whether she dies of starvation, or whether she dies of “natural” causes.

These are the things I don’t believe. I don’t believe in the Christian concept that suffering is the measure of life. I don’t believe in the humanist concept that suffering should be the measure of death. I don’t believe that anyone grandstanding on either side, can come away from this with clean hands. I don’t believe that any greater good can come from any of this.

These are the things I do believe. I believe a young woman could never picture herself dying – the definition of youth, if there is one – and so she never made a living will. I believe there is a husband whose self-image is so wrapped up in being the suffering widower, that he can’t accommodate the wishes of his in laws. I believe there is a family clinging on to hopeless hope so hard that they can’t accommodate their son-in-law’s wishes.

But Terry’s case is life and death. It’s one or the other. There can be no accommodation.

And so the circle goes on and on until, whenever, however, Terry ceases to go on.

So, if you’re planning on riding your hobbyhorse to victory, eventually you’ll have to run it over Terry’s corpse.

You loser.

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“Minutes versus months”

March 30th, 2005 - 10:35 pm

Austin Bay on Iraq’s political growing pains, and the doomsayers at the Washington Post.

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Please Stand By

March 30th, 2005 - 10:31 pm

Any PC more than three years old is an accident waiting to happen. Mine is 38 months old, and the wait ended yesterday. After a few (ahem) problems, everything seems to be working again – for now. But I can tell you the video card is about to go down for the last time.

Back after I read some news.

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It’s About Damn Time

March 28th, 2005 - 9:04 pm

Indicted Cable had a little service outage in my area – starting Friday. Only just now (9:03pm MST) have I been able to connect. This is the third major outage Adelphia has had here this year, and it’s only March.

I’m using my refound internetting abilities to get a quote from Qwest on getting DSL installed.

Back in a bit.

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Mail Call II

March 27th, 2005 - 11:22 am

In the comments for the “South Park” patch below, Mike Rentner writes,

As a Marine Officer currently in Iraq, I can say I’ve not seen this, but then I’m not in an Air Force base.

I appreciate the South Park humor, but I despise the sentiment that the words on the patch convey. It is arrogant, elitist and does nothing to further civil-military relations.

Rest assured that not all of us over here feel like we have a right to say such things.

Thanks for the note, Mike. Speaking as the owner and operator of one of the asses that’s being saved, I think you do have every right to say such things. At the very least, the patch slogan is an accurate description of what you and your collegues do for a living, and I’m certainly not offended by it.

Then again, I’m somewhat unusual in that while I’ve never served, I’ve been around military folks all my life. My dad is a USAF veteran, his father was an Army drill sergeant, I grew up in an Army town, my brother-in-law just started his third tour of SWA (Army), and I’ve spent my entire professional life working on Army and Air Force bases. Maybe I’m too close to the subject matter to be entirely objective.

What do the rest of y’all think?

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An Unabashed Plug

March 25th, 2005 - 10:39 am

About ten weeks ago, I waxed enthusiastic here about the new “Battlestar Galactica” series that’s running on the Sci-Fi Channel. The first season of “BSG” is wrapping up with a two-parter, and Part I airs tonight.

If you’ve been watching the show all along, you probably don’t need me to tell you not to miss this one. I’ve already seen both episodes, and together they make up the best movie that I’ve seen in at least a year, give or take “The Incredibles.” Not the best TV show, mind you–although “BSG” is, in my opinion, the best thing on television–the best movie.

For those of you who haven’t been watching, you’re missing out on the most intelligent dramatic series that’s running today. If you want a comparison, “Battlestar Galactica” is for televised science fiction what “Hill Street Blues” was for cop shows. It redefines the entire genre for a grown-up audience. Even better, Sci-Fi is going way beyond the call of duty with additional content at their web site, including deleted scenes , making-of features, and even full-episode podcast audio commentaries from series creator Ronald Moore–the kind of stuff you’d normally have to wait for (and pay for) in a DVD set.

If you haven’t been tuning in, Sci-Fi will be re-running the entire first season starting on April 8th. If you’re sick of bad TV, but haven’t tuned in to “BSG” because you remember the ultra-cheesy 1979 series, do yourself a favor and warm up your TiVo/ReplayTV/VCR to catch the repeats.

Season Two premeires in July, and that won’t be a moment too soon–you’ll see why I say that after Part II of the season finale airs next Friday night.

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Mail Call

March 25th, 2005 - 10:14 am

One of my office-mates who’s in the Air Force Reserve got called up early this year to spend a little time in the big sandbox. He mailed me this patch last week, apparently it’s rather popular among the US troops:


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Required Reading

March 23rd, 2005 - 10:30 pm

Ever since I saw Boogie Nights way back when, I’ve been a fan of Don Cheadle. But that’s not why his WSJ op-ed (co-authored with John Prendergast) is today’s Required Reading.

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New Blogs

March 23rd, 2005 - 10:21 pm

OK, so Watching America isn’t exactly a blog, but it’s a damn fine resource – and one you should be using.

What MEMRI does for Arab-language news about everything, WA does for all foreign-language stories about the US. They have stuff you won’t see translated into English anywhere else.

Check’em out already.

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Eagle Eye

March 23rd, 2005 - 10:11 pm

Max Boot argues in favor of ending academic tenure:

[Ward] Churchill and his professorial colleagues are beneficiaries of the most ironclad protection for mountebanks, incompetents and sluggards ever devised. It’s called tenure.

To fire a tenured professor requires a legal battle that can make the Clinton impeachment seem like a small-claims dispute. Even if there is clear evidence of wrongdoing, professors are entitled to endless procedural safeguards against being fired.

The University of Colorado wanted to offer Churchill a generous financial settlement to leave voluntarily, but that idea has been torpedoed by regents angry at the idea of buying off this buffoon. An epic struggle looms in which Churchill and his numerous faculty defenders will nail their colors to the mast of “academic freedom.”

I’m still agnostic on the issue. Now that we have 24/7 news and a growing blogosphere to help keep it honest, I worry less and less about entrenched institutions. Universities can keep tenure if they so choose – but they can no longer avoid close public scrutiny and loud public derision.

And for now, that ought to do.

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March 23rd, 2005 - 9:56 pm

If you don’t already know, Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash 4.0 is a done deal. Andy just told me we’ve got the deposit and the bartender — now all we’re waiting on is news about Jeff’s hookers.

I’m kidding about that last point, I think.

Anyway, mark your calendars for April 2nd, and set your bar tab to “stun.”

Full details here, and you can RSVP here.

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Here Ya Go II

March 23rd, 2005 - 9:43 pm

One mo’ time, we’re going to try to link to working versions of those color WWI battlefield photos. David of Poiema Design was smart enough to save all the pictures on his own hard drive, and public-spirited enough to post them on his own website.

Here they are. Enjoy.

And thanks, David.

UPDATE: Calvin von Weissenfluh, a reader here and one of my favorite email correspondents, also saved the images. He’s sending them to me in a Zip file. So if David ever gets tired of playing host, I’ll gladly take up the slack.

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Two to Go?

March 23rd, 2005 - 9:22 pm

Tuesday’s post about rubella’s North American extinction caught the attention of a reader at the National Institutes of Health. Sarah Miers sent me a press release detailing some of NIH’s work against the avian flu:

Fast-track recruitment has begun for a trial to investigate the safety of a vaccine against H5N1 avian influenza, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced today.

Sites in Rochester, NY, Baltimore and Los Angeles will enroll a total of 450 healthy adults. The clinical sites are part of the NIAID-sponsored Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units (VTEU).

“While there have been relatively few cases worldwide of H5N1 avian influenza infection in humans, the public health community is concerned that the virus will develop the capability of efficiently spreading from human to human and thus create a risk for a worldwide pandemic,” says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.

Good to know.

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Car Talk

March 23rd, 2005 - 9:09 pm

I told you things were bad at GM, and now it looks like they might retreat even further:

GM’s Buick and Pontiac are both “damaged brands” due to lack of investment over the years, and GM is working to correct that with an array of new vehicles coming to market, Lutz told a Morgan Stanley automotive conference in New York.

But if some of its brands fail to meet sales projections, “then we would have to take a look at a phase-out. I hope we don’t have to do that. What we’ve got to do is keep the brands we’ve got.”

Full story here.

If I had to guess, I’d say Buick should be the first to go. The median age of Buick buyers now stands at, I think, 807 years old. But there are still one or two Pontiac buyers sober and under the age of 40.

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The More Things Change

March 23rd, 2005 - 12:23 pm

Just because a madman gives up his nukes, doesn’t make him any less mad. Here’s the latest from Muammar Gaddafi:

Speaking at the Arab League summit meeting in Algiers, the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi defended Syria’s role in Lebanon, saying Damascus should be thanked for what he called its sacrifices in Lebanon.

“Syria should be rewarded because it sacrificed for the sake of civil peace in Lebanon,” Gaddafi said at the annual summit of the 22-member Arab League.

And the Soviets restored civil order in Czechoslovakia, too. Some sacrifice.

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Linky Love

March 23rd, 2005 - 12:18 pm

What made conservatives blogs more influential in last year’s election than their liberal counterparts? It’s all in the hyperlink:

“Who were the bloggers writing about?” asks the new report, “The Political Blogosphere and the 2004 U.S. Election: Divided They Blog, from Intelliseek’s BlogPulse project.” It answers its own question, “Curiously, 59 percent of the mentions of John Kerry came from right-leaning bloggers, while 53 percent of the mentions of George W. Bush came from left-leaning bloggers.”

The study was conducted by Natalie Glance of Intelliseek, a marketing intelligence firm in Cincinnati, and Lada Adamic of HP Labs, the main laboratory for Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto, Calif. It showed that of the 1,494 most influential blogs, during the two months leading up to the election, 759 were liberal in worldview, while 735 were conservative. The conservatives, however, showed a “greater tendency” to link to other blogs than did the liberals — on average 15.1 links per conservative blog to 13.6 for the liberals. That made them more powerful agents of persuasion.

Who says Republicans don’t know how to share?

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Out There

March 23rd, 2005 - 10:45 am

Way out there:

Astronomers using NASA’s newest space telescope have for the first time glimpsed the faint light from planets outside our solar system.

Indirect detection methods have found evidence of at least 152 planets orbiting stars outside our solar system, but the first light from two distant worlds is a key step in understanding the character of such bodies.

“It’s an awesome experience to realize we are seeing the glow of distant worlds,” says David Charbonneau of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “We’ve been hunting for this light for almost 10 years, ever since the first extra-solar planets were discovered.”

Maybe NASA ought to stick to probes and space telescopes, and leave the manned missions to the private sector.

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Here Ya Go

March 23rd, 2005 - 9:01 am

I’ve seen a lot of searches in my activity log for those color WWI photos I linked to a while back. If you’re still looking, here’s the link again.

UPDATE: Sorry, but it looks like Big D and Bubba took down the pictures. A shame, too.

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Here We Go Again

March 23rd, 2005 - 8:51 am

Another fake memo? Powerline has the details.

(Hat tip, Jim Geraghty.)

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Time Tested Solution

March 23rd, 2005 - 12:29 am

In the years before Napoleon dismantled it, Voltaire quipped that the Holy Roman Empire was “neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.” Well, of course not. It was an amalgamation of independent German kingdoms, fiefdoms, and statelets, lightly bound together by a powerless Grand Moose or whatever with no revenue, army, courts, or police.

Much the same goes today for the United Nations. It is neither united, nor nations.

Oh sure, there are quite a few honest-to-goodness real nation-states in the UN

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Required Reading

March 23rd, 2005 - 12:05 am

Deepthink stuff from Phil Carter, on the “convergence of crime and war.”

Read it, then read this.

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March 23rd, 2005 - 12:02 am

Finally, a trial worth watching:

PARIS Senior allies of President Jacques Chirac and a member of Paris’s Olympic bid committee are among 47 defendants accused of rigging public works contracts for kickbacks in a major political corruption trial opening Monday in France.

The trial, expected to run through July, implicates four former ministers and spotlights one of several party funding scandals that have come to light from Chirac’s tenure as Paris mayor from 1977 to 1995.

Already I’m feeling all tingly inside.

More seriously, Chirac’s 18 year tenure just absolutely smacks of a theme I’ve been pounding on lately: Entrenched majorities make for bad government.

Even more seriously, hey, they’re all like French and stuff.

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Nobody Wins III

March 22nd, 2005 - 11:05 pm

How bad are things in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe? Some blacks are pining for the days of white rule:

Binga, Zimbabwe

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