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Monthly Archives: March 2006

Chocolate Salty Balls

March 13th, 2006 - 11:16 pm

South Park fans will cry:

Isaac Hayes says he can’t take it anymore. The acknowledged Scientologist says he has watched the hit animated show “South Park,” on which he voices the role of Chef, lampoon his religion one too many times.

So on Monday he quit the show.

Really, Chef is the moral center of the South Park crew – not that that’s saying a whole lot most days. So what will Parker and Stone do without him?

Check It Out

March 13th, 2006 - 11:11 pm

Real Clear Politics has a clean new design, and it looks like they’re now updating three times a day. As someone who relies on RCP a lot, I gotta love it.

Ghost Brigades

March 13th, 2006 - 10:50 pm

There are few pleasures finer than a novel where the author has enough Big Ideas to create an interesting, compelling, and exciting world. It’s even better when the author has enough small ideas to give you characters you can care about. Anyway, that’s what I thought about John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War when I read it last year.

So I have to admit to a little trepidation when I head John was writing a sequel, Ghost Brigades. Would he have enough Big Ideas left to expand on what had come before? Even if it didn’t, I figured it would still be lots of fun to spend a little more time in John’s world.

Well, Ghost Brigades was a lot of fun. Even better, John still has plenty of Big Ideas left to fill a second book. With any luck, he’ll have enough for a third and a fourth. I can’t wait.

PS After reading the acknowledgements, I have to add: You’re welcome, John!

Mail Bag, With Danish

March 13th, 2006 - 10:46 pm

Mark White tells me Chicago will host another pro-Denmark, pro-free speech rally at noon on Tuesday. Details here and here.

Whoa – I Mean, Whoa

March 13th, 2006 - 10:37 pm

Is the Koran unconstitutional in Germany? The story, via Jeff Goldstein, says:

The author of the indictment in Hamburg, Jutta Starke, says that the Quran was reported to the police two or three years ago, but that the report was dismissed on the grounds that it was a book of only historical interest.

“The events of the last months have made clear that the Quran isn

That’s Gonna Leave a Mark

March 13th, 2006 - 10:35 pm

Charlie Munn deconstructs media bias, so you don’t have to.

Required Reading

March 13th, 2006 - 10:28 pm

Writing for The Times, David Aaronovitch makes an interesting argument – that had NATO not intervened in the Balkans, the Anglo-American alliance would not have invaded Iraq. The stage for intervention was set in Srebrenica a decade ago:

All that remains for them [left-wing appeasers] to do is to spread as many rumours as they can that the forces of imperialism done the old boy in, and then they can get down to the business of pre-emptively defending Kim Jong Il, or posthumously rehabilitating Beria, or something useful like that. What I want to do, however, is to chronicle how the Serbian leader was responsible for the invasion of Iraq. Along a line of logic that runs, crudely, no Slobbo, no Bosnia, no Kosovo, no fashion for intervention, no Iraq.

Read the whole thing, especially the bit about Noam Chomsky and The Guardian’s memory hole.

McAfee Anti-Spreadsheet Protection

March 13th, 2006 - 9:29 pm

Oops:

A faulty batch of anti-virus definitions has led a number of of McAfee’s customers to inadvertently wipe popular programs such as Windows Excel and Macromedia Flash Player from their computer systems.

Inside a seemingly routine anti-virus update made available in the US last Friday morning, hundreds of legitimate programs were incorrectly identified as a low-risk Windows 95 virus and users were prompted to delete or quarantine them.

A lot of folks warned me off of Norton’s security suite – but I think I’ll stick with it for now.

Decision ’08

March 13th, 2006 - 9:17 pm

A blogger for President? I suppose it was inevitable.

Oh, That Incestuous Media

March 13th, 2006 - 3:56 pm

We don’t subscribe to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, our local paper, but occasionally the delivery guy will drop off a complementary copy. Last Sunday was one of those days; here’s an image of the front page. The image is pretty poor, but if you look in the top left-hand corner, you’ll see a very large, prominent blurb for a story titled “Monica’s Moving.” The extensive article inside (in the business section, no less) is about how Monica Kaufman, arguably Atlanta’s most recognizable local TV news host, has a $4 million house up for sale.

That’s a pretty good advertisement, don’t you think? Priceless, even, considering the AJC doesn’t sell advertising on that particular piece of Sunday front-page acreage. I mean, let’s say you had a house on the market. How much would it be worth to you to have it advertised for free on the front page of the paper?

Of course, you or I wouldn’t get that kind of special treatment. You have to, er, know somebody to get your for-sale listing put up that prominently. And here’s a kicker that somehow made it past the legal and ethical guardians at the AJC–Kaufman and the paper’s editors all work for the same conglomerate, Cox Communications. Nope, no conflicts of interest there!

But hey, I’m sure I’m just being cynical. No doubt everybody involved are all unselfish guardians of the public good–and of what we ought to know about. And clearly, we didn’t need to know that Kaufman works for the AJC’s owners, since that little fact isn’t mentioned in the article.

Ah, what’s to get upset about? Since when do “journalists” have to live by the same rules as the little people?

Passing the Buck

March 13th, 2006 - 10:58 am

Bob Novak writes that

Two Senate incidents during the week pointed to the failure of congressional Republicans to fulfill commitments of fiscal restraint. At their weekly luncheon meeting Tuesday, GOP senators were told there was not enough support for restrictions on spending to pass a budget this year and there would be no attempt. On Wednesday, the party’s Senate leadership beat down opposition to more money from the federal government to pay citizens’ home heating bills.

Republicans obscured these incidents by shoving to make sure Democrats did not get ahead in playing to public hysteria over an Arab-owned company managing U.S. ports. Terrified by the prospect of a midterm election disaster, Republican lawmakers stoked public discontent with the Dubai ports deal rather than contemplate their own failures.

If the Republicans lose Congress this year, they’ll have earned it.

Watch Out For That Tree

March 13th, 2006 - 9:31 am

George Clooney: A DUPE WHO IS WRONG AGAIN.

Nekkid Time

March 13th, 2006 - 9:27 am

Who says art history is boring?

Home At Last

March 13th, 2006 - 9:23 am

Finally, VP is back up and running. Can’t tell you how frustrating it was last night, having paid my renewal fee but still unable to blog. When you’ve gotten used to yelling back at the news on your blog, losing it is like going from the really high-quality heroin to stuff cut with Ajax.

Lemme go find a clean needle and I’ll be right back.

Friday Recipe

March 9th, 2006 - 10:25 pm

This one is all Melissa’s, so it’s no surprise it involves lamb. Since you’ll use a slow cooker, it’s also easy to make and even easier to serve. And…

It Tastes Like France

At least that’s what Melissa said when she tried it.

You’ll need:

A leg of lamb
2 cloves of garlic, cut in half
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 sprigs of rosemary
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
8 sprigs of thyme
4 slices of thick bacon, chopped
2 yellow onions, quartered
1/2 bag of baby carrots
2 cups dry red wine
2 cups beef stock

Get started cooking after breakfast, then forget about it for a while.

Carefully open the plastic the leg of lamb is packed in, and pour any liquid in the stock pot. Season the lamb with salt and pepper then set aside. Pour in all the beef stock and most of the wine, then add in the two cloves of sliced garlic. Crank up the Crock Pot to high and put the lid on top.

Fry the bacon in a skillet large enough to brown the lamb in. Scoop the crispy bacon into the stock pot, but don’t pour out the fat. Instead, use it to brown the lamb on all sides, about a minute per. As best you can without sending stuff flying everywhere, get the lamb into the slow cooker. Deglaze the pan with the leftover red wine, then pour all that into the pot, too.

Stir together the olive oil, parsley, rosemary, minced garlic, along with a little salt and a lot of pepper. Take half of the mix and spread it over the top of the lamb.

Now go do something fun for five hours, completely away from the kitchen.

When you come back, turn the lamb, cover it with the remaining mix, and add the onion.

Go away for another two hours.

Add the carrots. Pour some wine. Drink for 30 minutes.

For starch, you can throw some quartered potatoes in with the carrots. Or boil some egg noodles right before the lamb is done.

Turn off the crock pot and serve. It’s gonna be messy, but it’s gonna be good.

Yech

March 8th, 2006 - 9:35 pm

Well, that sucked.

A bad cold combined with a couple other things, all minor, kept me feeling like crap for a few days. Learned that while Mucinex is great for my lungs, it doesn’t do much good for me other places. Nothing like adding a little dehydration to the mix. My voice was so bad, I scared the baby.

Now I just gotta play catch up…

Notice

March 5th, 2006 - 10:20 pm

Everybody had lots of fun Oscar-blogging – you can still read it here. But I’m beat, and am gonna take my Nyquil (not the wussy new kind) and go to bed.

Notice

March 5th, 2006 - 12:51 pm

Woke up Friday and coughed up an entire mouthful of pencil erasers. The cold I thought I’d fought off twice already came back with a vengeance. But I’ve found a way to put my foul mood to good use: Liveblogging tonight’s Oscars.

The fun starts tonight at 8 Eastern, with The Manolo, Jeff Goldstein, both Gay Patriots, Andrew Leigh, Roger L. Simon, and myself.

TV Time

March 2nd, 2006 - 9:58 pm

I’d just love to blog tonight, but the third season of Newsradio arrived earlier today.

Crunchy Consternation

March 2nd, 2006 - 3:01 pm

NRO recently launched a new blog to promote and discuss Rod Dreher’s book Crunchy Conservatives. I confess up front that I haven’t read the book, and after reading the blog, I don’t have any particular plans to do so. Without going into Goldbergian levels of analysis and/or taxonomy, the “Crunchies” seem less like brave new ideologues than scolds looking for an ideology that fits their personalities and preferences. To put it another way, they remind me an awful lot of the people who join a homeowners association so they can force their neighbors to cut the grass more often.

But that’s not the point of this post. Sorry.

No, in this case I was really inspired to write after seeing this letter to the Crunchy blog:

If you believe that consumer purchases should reflect something more than selfishness, your second biggest consumer purchase (after your house) should be of an auto produced by an industry on which hundreds of thousands of Americans and large sections of America depend.

Now, I’ve read and heard stuff like that before, and I’m sure you have too. I used to believe it myself; I’ve owned four Ford cars, and I specifically avoided “buying foreign” when I went shopping for them. They were all fun cars (well, okay, the LTD that was handed down from my mom, not so much), at least for the first few years.

But funny thing, every one of those Fords started living up to the reputation of “Fixed Or Repaired Daily” right around the 70,000 mile mark, and the repair costs started escalating geometrically until they literally weren’t worth owning any more, generally before 120,000 miles or so.

The transmission on the last one, a 1995 Thunderbird, started skipping just a couple of thousand miles shy of the end of my extended warranty. So I took it to my then-local dealership, located in Panama City, Florida (I won’t name it here, but the first of two surnames on the sign rhymes with “crook”). The service manager came back to me and said, “The work you need ain’t covered by the warranty, it just needs a transmission service. $275 will get you new transmission fluid and you’ll be out of here.”

I shook my head, took my keys from him and never set foot on the premises again. Then I asked around for an honest transmission guy, to get a second opinion. The owner of that shop sent one of his mechanics to test-drive my car, and before it was out of sight asked me about my problem. After I described it to him, and without my ever telling him I hadn’t come to him first, he asked me three questions: “Did you go to the dealership? What did they tell you? Do you have any warranty left?”

When I answered, “Yes,” “service the transmission,” and “couple of thousand miles,” he nodded and said, “They’re tryin’ to screw you.”

“See all those cars up on my racks?” he said. I looked. They were all Fords–Crown Victorias, a Mustang, another T-Bird. “They’ve all got the same transmission as your car, and it’s a real good transmission–except for the torque converter. Those are crap. They wear out early, and it messes up the whole rest of the transmission. If you’d just gotten that service, the new fluid would have made the torque converter expand, and it’d mask the real problems for oh, two, three thousand miles. Then you’d be outta warranty, and your transmission would still be shot. The dealer figured you’d either pay him a couple of thou’ for the repairs, or trade it in for a new car.”

He handed me back my keys and said, “Go to another Ford dealer, get them to fix it right, then come see me in a couple of years when it fails again.”

So I did, and the transmission failed again, right on schedule, and I’ll never pay another penny to the Ford Motor Company. I bought a used Lexus instead of fixing the Thunderbird, and it is still running like a dream, tens of thousands of miles after all my previous cars would have needed four-figure repairs.

Sorry, guys, but the reason Ford and GM are losing business is because their cars suck, pure and simple. Not only are they ugly and uninteresting (the Mustang and Corvette excepted–and what does it say when they’re both decades-old designs?), they’re also built to break down. Intentionally.

Deciding not to buy a crappy product that’s backed with dishonest service doesn’t make anybody unpatriotic or ‘selfish.’ It just means we aren’t saps.

Quit making cars that suck, quit looking the other way when your dealers rip off customers, and maybe–maybe–we’ll reconsider. Until then, you’ve got nobody but yourselves to blame.

Since He Asked…

March 2nd, 2006 - 12:00 pm

Michael Barone has a long post today on the possibility of prosecuting reporters and/or publishers for violating the Espionage Act:

Part of me says that a prosecution of the Times and its sources would be fully justified… That part of me also tends to think that the Times, in its contradictory stances on the Plame and NSA disclosures, has been acting out of malicious political motives and in reckless disregard of the real security interests of the United States. So a prosecution would be a fair comeuppance. But part of me is also genuinely queasy about the prospects of prosecutions of the press, queasy about the possibility of selective prosecution if not now then in the future, queasy about giving prosecutors the task of determining which secrets are essential to the national security and which are just the results of casual overclassification, queasy lest the government by overclassification enforced by prosecution should unduly restrict the flow of information to the public.

The answer when there are grave risks on all sides is that everyone should act with caution and restraint. The Times hasn’t. It has recklessly brought this peril on itself. But that doesn’t mean that the government shouldn’t act with caution and restraint. I’m glad the decision isn’t mine to make. What’s your call?

I’m glad you asked. Here’s my call, from about five months back:

Speaking as just one of the multitudes of “little people” with security clearances who’re regularly reminded of the severe legal penalties for just making an honest mistake in failing to protect classified information (never mind deliberately revealing anything), I can’t say I feel any sympathy for the bigger wigs in D.C. who just as regularly commit violations that would put me in jail.

The law applies to everybody equally–or at least it ought to. Pat Leahy, Dick Shelby, Sandy-freakin’-Berger and everybody who works for them ought to face the same jeopardies I do when it comes to protecting this information, and if Jack Shafer and “national security reporters” don’t like it, tough.

You want to try and change those laws and/or their penalties, go right ahead. It’s a free country. But don’t sit there and tell me the “big boys” deserve the special privilege they’ve been getting from federal prosecutors who don’t want to cross the press.

That goes for the “journalists” who knowingly publish classified information as well. The law is the same for everybody–or at least it should be. As I’ve said many times before, reporters are not superior beings. They are not entitled to a seperate set of rules from everybody else.

If the law applies to me, it damn well also applies to them.

About Time

March 2nd, 2006 - 10:01 am

Welcome to the Anglosphere, India.

Buyer’s Remorse

March 1st, 2006 - 10:05 pm

Apple hasn’t even announced their serious Intel-based desktop machines yet, but already I can’t wait to make the switch. If you want to know why I’m so anxious, here are my top ten reasons.

Technical Difficulties

March 1st, 2006 - 9:01 pm

If you’re wondering why VodkaPundit wasn’t working this morning, it was my fault. It seems I forgot to keep my contact information current with the company I have the domain registered with. Oops.

If you’re wondering why VodkaPundit still wasn’t working this afternoon, that wasn’t my fault. Getting my contact info updated was a simple process. And as I finished it, the registration guy acted immediately by taking the rest of the day off.

The only reason you can read this tonight is that the customer service rep took pity and extended my registration for a bit. In other words, the problem hasn’t really been solved and won’t be until the truant finally turns in his homework. Until then, VodkaPundit is relying on the kindness of strangers.