"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."


Glenn Reynolds:

Barack Obama:
"Impossible to transcend."

Albert A. Gore, Jr.:
"An incontinent brute."

Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
"God damn the Gentleman Farmer."

Friends of GF's Sons:
"Is that really your dad?"

Kickball Girl:
"Keeping 'em alive until 7:45."

Hired Hand:
"I think . . . we forgot the pheasant."

I'm an
Alcoholic Yeti
in the
TTLB Ecosystem

Monday, May 30, 2005

The WABAC Machine

That is, of course, Mr. Peabody and his pet boy, Sherman. If you don't remember, never mind. Mr. Peabody is about to set the WABAC Machine (pronounced "Way Back") to transport himself and Sherman back in time for Sherman's edification. History via the WABAC never was quite what we learned in school.

There is a real world WABAC Machine of sorts. It is an archive of web pages from ancient times (as the Internet goes, that is). Enter any current web address, and it will spit out a list of archived pages. Want to know what InstaPundit looked like in August, 2001? Like THIS.

Here it is boys and girls, the Wayback Machine. Have fun.

Sunday, May 29, 2005


This HAD to happen

Owners sell naming rights, so there is created the "Jello Pudding Bowl." I learned this morning that Jack Daniels is sponsoring an Indy car:

[Although I'm not sure about the advertising strategy: If you show a beautiful woman drinking Jack, the message is "If YOU drink Jack, this will be your girl." In this instance, is the message "If YOU drink Jack, you'll be driving around at 120?"]

But I digress.

There's advertising on sports uniforms, there's advertising on busses and taxis and, of course, there's advertising on your shirt if you're idiot enough to be wearing one that says "TOMMY" on the front (unless your name actually is Tommy, of course).

So I suppose it was inevitable that someone would attempt to sell the right to put advertising on their baby. Not on the baby itself, of course, that would be stupid. But on the kid's clothes, shoes or hat. Hey, Shaq gets paid a bundle to wear a particular brand of shoes, why shouldn't I get paid so folks can see my cute kid wearing your hat? Not as much as Shaq, I guess, but something.

Well, see, there's an auction over on eBay:
This auction is for ad space on our newborn son for 1 month. By ad space I mean only on clothing/ T-shirts or any other type of apparel like hats, shoes....ect. You can also put your ad on a stroller or anything else that is baby related and send it to us. The winner of this auction will be responsible for making up and sending us the clothing and any apparel that we will putting on our son. The clothing will need to be 0-3 months boy summer clothing. WE WILL NOT TATOO ANYTHING EVEN TEMP TATOOS ON OUR SON SO DO NOT ASK. We will start the advertising on July 1st until the end of the month.
As the seller points out:
Now who doesnt look at babies? We all stare and look at newborns when we see them out in public and say how cute they are so by putting your ad on our infant you know your ad will be looked at! We will be all over PA, NY and NJ this summer. We will be visiting different beaches, theme parks, state parks, fairs and we have many other events planned for this summer. We will email the winner of this auction weekly photos for the month of July of different outings so that you can see we are out and about and our son is sporting your ad for everyone to see. We will also email you along with the photos a list of places we have been and dates.
There are a series of restrictions:






Inevitably, they add "SERIOUS BIDS ONLY." Of course.

Auction is HERE. Hat tip to TaxProf Blog, where questions regarding the tax implications will be discussed.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Do NOT try this at home

The BBC reports that two Star Wars fans are in hospital after their attempt to film a light-saber duel went awry. It appears our two nimrods were using fluorescent light tubes as their sabers. Not a bad idea, though prone to shattering and production of teeny, tiny sharp pieces of glass.

But our heroes were not content, and believed they would achieve a more realistic effect if they filled the tubes with gasoline.

And lit it.
On fire.
While holding the tubes.
In their hands.
They were correct, sort of.

I'm NOT making this up. Beeb story HERE, CNN story HERE.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

You Just CAN'T make this stuff up . . . .

I offer, without comment, the following quotation from an editorial in yesterday's New York Times:
There is absolutely nothing unfair about allowing a minority that actually represents more American people to veto lifetime appointments of judges who are far outside the mainstream of American thinking.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

So THAT's the problem!

I must apologize. A new study, reported HERE, explains why none of you understand what I'm saying. I am SO sorry.

Hat tip to Small Dead Animals.

The SCHOOL Made me DO IT.

Today's text comes via THIS article published yesterday in the London Daily Telegraph:

Three sisters have each had children while still at school, the youngest at the age of 12. Jemma, Jade and Natasha Williams, who receive benefits totaling more than £31,000 a year, are raising their babies alone after they became pregnant within three months of each other."
The sisters were aged 12, 14 and 16 at the time of their respective deliveries. There, I do believe, we have our problem in a nutshell, do we not? But our exposition is not yet complete. In a not so different context, I have asked "Where are their fathers?" In this instance there appear to be neither fathers nor husbands (although custom would call for a total of four males). But there is indeed a mother, now a grandmother thrice-over. The sisters

. . . live in Derby with their twice-divorced mother, who holds the education system responsible for their plight.

"If I could turn the clock back I would definitely prefer them to not have children as their education is so important.

"They've all ruined their lives because they are all too young to have children."

There is yet more detail that seems necessary before moving on. It appears it was the youngest sister, Jemma, who gave birth first, followed by her eldest sister, Natasha "who had already had two miscarriages and an abortion." The middle child, Jade, explained:

"It was just one of those things really. I wasn't using contraception and I suppose I just thought it wouldn't happen to me."
While no more is reported of Jemma's situation

Natasha said her pregnancy, while unplanned, had pleased her. "I don't really want to be anything but a full-time mum," she said.
Mrs Atkins, who had her first child at 20, said she was astonished that her daughters had become pregnant so young.

"It just doesn't seem possible," she said. "I was so shocked when I found out about Jemma. She thought I would hit the roof and didn't tell me for seven months. I only found out when I took her to buy a new bra and as she was being measured I saw her huge bump."

The cause of this calamity is clear to the mother:

"I blame the schools - sex education for young girls should be better," said Julie Atkins, 38. "More and more kids are getting pregnant younger and younger and sex education needs to start a lot earlier."
We may now pause for reflection.

What is one to make of Mrs. Atkins' suggestion that faulty sex education is to blame? One of the sisters explicitly refers to her knowledge of contraception, while another has already been pregnant three times (at age 16).

It thus seems beyond dispute that these sisters are already in possession of the knowledge that one might normally think would come under the heading "sex education." They clearly know where babies come from, two of three obviously know about contraception, in which context it is impossible that the third does not.

Is it nonetheless possible that additional "sex education" would have been of benefit? Do we think, for example, that additional knowledge of other sex practices might have helped, such as suggested HERE by Planned Parenthood? (Check out their "TeenWire" section, wisely reviewed HERE.) Or do we think that more discussion of the rightness of homosexuality, or the theological errors of Baptists, as suggested by Montgomery County (MD) would have helped?

Of course not.

What then is the answer to Mrs. Atkins' implicit question, "Why did this happen?" She herself suggests the answer, if unwittingly, when she says "she was astonished" and that "it just doesn't seem possible."

Strangely enough, the answer may be found, again unwittingly, on the blog of former AirAmerica person Lizz Winstead. She takes THIS opportunity to trash "abstinence only" sex education. But read carefully and, in particular, the comments. One sneers "Hell, I can't get them to sit down long enough for dinner or take the garbage out." May one speculate that the author of the comment, as well as Mrs. Atkins, might have taken the time to do so?

And THAT, of course, is precisely the problem.

And you know it.

(Hat tip to The Vestryman, who pointed out the article by gesturing wildly, eyes wide, while incapable of coherent speech.)

Phil Spector

If you are of a certain age, you cannot but know who Phil Spector is: The Righteous Brothers, Ike & Tina Turner, the Ronettes (not to mention the Teddy Bears); Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. You know, THAT Phil Spector. (If you weren't born until 1970, study HERE.)

Phil has had a touch of trouble with the law recently. AP story HERE. He's been in court, and it seems a pretty good bet that he's ignoring at least some of the advice his lawyers have been giving him:

I mean. Just LOOK at that stupid shirt, eh? What's the jury gonna think of THAT?

Hat tip to Wizbang.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Feet Don't Fail Me Now!

From the McMinnville Oregon NewsRegister (circulation 10,921, "Serving the Greater Yamhill Valley Area Every Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday") comes THIS story.

It announces a lecture (and booksigning, admission $7) by a Dr. Roger Leir. Dr. Leir will speak on new foreign surgical techniques.

Dr. Leir is a podiatrist, and says that in 1995 he removed a strange metallic device from the foot of a patient:

He subsequently has done surgery to remove 10 more objects which, despite analysis by some of the most sophisticated scientists in the country, continue to defy earthly explanation. At least one analyst compared the composition of the object to that of a meteorite; others have pointed out metallurgical anomalies.

Dr. Leir believes they were implanted by aliens (no, NOT Canadians). No longer content with tiny little cranial transmitters, alien impregnation apparently passe, those bastards have gone for the feet.

Some ufologists theorize the objects were implanted to control our behavior. But Leir said his best guess is that they are monitoring devices which keep track of genetic changes in human beings.

That certainly was my first hypothesis.

The New Plan by the extraterrestrials is cunningly subtle, and just crazy enough to work. Podiatrists now constitute our first line of defense against this ancient foe.

Dr. Leir:

SOLD! (out)

Seven Republican Senators have bound themselves to vote against two of the President's judicial nominees, the effect being failure of the Senate to confirm, in return for seven Democrats agreeing only to filibuster future nominees under "extraordinary circumstances." CNN story HERE. The usual suspects will hail this compromise as being in the grand tradition of the United States Senate. And they will be right: the tradition of the pork barrel, the secret deal, and racial segregation.

Let there be no mistake. The Republicans get nothing (as all of the nominees would have been confirmed had these senators voted for them), while the Democrats defeat two nominees and remain entirely free to filibuster, and make their dishonest case for that loathsome practice, in the context of a Supreme Court nomination. The deal includes no definition of what constitutes "extraordinary circumstances," and the leader of the Democrat Seven is former Ku Klux Klansman Robert Byrd of West Virginia, the most partisan hack in the Senate. When a Supreme Court vacancy does occur, you can bet the farm that whoever is nominated for the seat will be opposed by NARAL, NOW, People for the American Way, et al., who will trumpet apocalyptic imminence, freeing their paid-for senators to filibuster.

John McCain, of course, hopes that this helps to cement his credentials with lefty independents and non-psychotic democrats. Note to John: Those people don't vote in Republican presidential primaries, or contribute to Republican candidates. Alternative theory: this constitutes McCain's decision not to run for president, but to instead remain in the Senate, where his (and the Senate's) importance is enhanced by the corrupt bargain.

The big winner? As pointed out to us by our Democratic consultant ("The Banker") before the fact, this is the best possible outcome for Bill Frist. He makes no more enemies than he already has in the Senate, and has his campaign issue for the Republican primaries handed to him: "Elect me president, and give me more Republican senators. I did my best in the Senate, I fought the good fight, I took on Teddy Kennedy, The New York Times and Al Franken, but got stabbed in the back by wishy-washy 'moderates.'"

Number 2 winner? Senator Clinton. She has avoided blame from any side, and remains free to tack toward the center, while the faithful know better.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Rude Food

Rude Food is an English web site specializing in food -- actually mostly in brands of food -- that sound a bit off to the British ear. Most are foreign, including American. Many of the jokes are from the well, shall we say, "Benny Hill" school of English humor: bums, coq's, and the like. But as all are real products, I guess it says rather much about you if you think it's funny. I do believe I'll rate this one not entirely office safe.

There is, for example, this one:

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Now THIS is a Link Worth Having!

There's no such thing as a bad link. But some are better than others. Get mentioned by InstaPundit, and 100,000 hits may result: An InstaLanche. Glenn-boy has something like 140,000 hits per day.

But the New York Daily News has a circulation of over 700,000. So I'd say this is a link worth having: "Our Gal in Cyberspace," indeed.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Despicable! Shocking! Look! LOOK!

A few years ago a friend of mine (The Vestryman) remarked upon a phenomenon he had observed in movies, news reporting, and even in conversation. Someone might criticize a mutual acquaintance for having told a particularly crude or inappropriate joke. And then, just to make sure you got the point, repeat the joke. The occasion of our conversation may well have been the Nicholas Cage film "8MM" about the investigation of the making of a snuff film. Get it? That way, we can all feel righteous, or at least remote, while titilated by the very thing we're condemning. Pretty slick.

As everyone in the universe surely knows by now, the London tabloid "The Sun" acquired and printed pictures of Saddam Hussein in his skivvies. Of course, no respectable news journal would print such things. But as their publication itself is news, reporting that is a whole 'nother thing.

So in today's Washington Post, on page A13, right alongside a long story headlined "U.S. Officials Condemn Hussein Photos," you will find this photograph:

It most certainly IS NOT a picture of Saddam Hussein in his tidy whities. It's a picture of a guy LOOKING AT A PICTURE (of Saddam Hussein in his tidy whities).

And that's not the same thing at all.

Friday, May 20, 2005

I am NOT . . .

. . . . making this up:

I do not believe you are yet quite ready for the source of such knowledge. More to follow.


It is said that there is no culture here about. That there is politics. There is cute. There is strange. But there is no culture.

Herewith, culture:
Bonus money spin
Britney would not sleep with you
Lozenges for Sylvester

Spam Haiku. More HERE, from Ms. N.

Cal Responds to 9/11

The University of California For Those Unable to Gain Admission to Stanford has announced that budget constraints require it to cut Arabic language classes. I'm not making this up. Hat tip to Mossback Culture.

[UPDATE - No, #1 Son did NOT steer me to this one.]

A Religion of Peace

Imagine, just for a moment, that an American or British cleric announced that the Church of England, or the Methodists, would one day rule the world.

And that Muslims would then "not enjoy a life of tranquility under our rule," but that the world would be relieved of these Muslims, who are treacherous by nature.

And then imagine that the sermon was broadcast over the BBC or PBS.

Imagine. If you cannot imagine it, then consider carefully WHY you cannot do so. Who is different from whom, and why are they different? Do we, for some reason, expect more of the Methodist, or of the BBC, or of the West? Why?

I know what I think. You should think what seems best to you.

Last Friday, May 13, Palestinian Authority television aired a sermon by Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris. Sheik Mudeiris touched on many subjects:
Allah warned His beloved Prophet Muhammad about the Jews, who had killed their prophets, forged their Torah, and sowed corruption throughout their history. With the establishment of the state of Israel, the entire Islamic nation was lost, because Israel is a cancer spreading through the body of the Islamic nation, and because the Jews are a virus resembling AIDS, from which the entire world suffers.
A secular history lesson is also provided:

Ask Britain what it did to the Jews in the early sixth century. What did they do to the Jews? They expelled them, tortured them, and prevented them from entering Britain for more than 300 years. All this was because of what the Jews did in Britain. Ask France what it did to the Jews. They tortured them, expelled them, and burned their Talmud, because of the civil strife the Jews wanted to spark in France, in the days of Louis XIX. Ask Portugal what it did to the Jews. Ask Czarists Russia, which welcomed the Jews, who plotted to kill the Czar - so he massacred them. But don't ask Germany what it did to the Jews. It was the Jews who provoked Nazism to wage war against the entire world, when the Jews, using the Zionist movement, got other countries to wage an economic war on Germany and to boycott German merchandise. They provoked Russia, Britain, France, and Italy. This enraged the Germans toward the Jews, leading to the events of those days, which the Jews commemorating today.
And, of course, this religious inspiration, informed by history, commends a future course:

We have ruled the world before, and by Allah, the day will come when we will rule the entire world again. The day will come when we will rule America. The day will come when we will rule Britain and the entire world – except for the Jews. The Jews will not enjoy a life of tranquility under our rule, because they are treacherous by nature, as they have been throughout history. The day will come when everything will be relieved of the Jews - even the stones and trees which were harmed by them. Listen to the Prophet Muhammad, who tells you about the evil end that awaits Jews. The stones and trees will want the Muslims to finish off every Jew.
From MEMRI, click HERE.

The Democrats said . . . .

Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Delaware) March 19, 1997: “But I also respectfully suggest that everyone who is nominated is entitled to have a shot, to have a hearing and to have a shot to be heard on the floor and have a vote on the floor.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) September 11, 1997: “Let’s bring their nominations up, debate them if necessary, and vote them up or down.”

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts)February 3, 1998: “We owe it to Americans across the country to give these nominees a vote. If our Republican colleagues don’t like them, vote against them. But give them a vote.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) May 10, 2000: “The Founding Fathers certainly intended that the Senate advise as to judicial nominations, i.e., consider, debate, and vote up or down. They surely did not intend that the Senate, for partisan or factional reasons, would remain silent and simply refuse to give any advice or consider and vote at all.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) 5/14/97 : “It is not the role of the Senate to obstruct the process and prevent numbers of highly qualified nominees from even being given the opportunity for a vote on the Senate floor.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): “It is our job to confirm these judges. If we don’t like them, we can vote against them.” (Congressional Record, 9/16/99)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): “Our institutional integrity requires an up-or-down vote.” (Congressional Record, 10/4/99)

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA): “[The filibuster process] is used … as blackmail for one Senator to get his or her way on something that they could not rightfully win through the normal processes.” (Congressional Record, 1/4/95)

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA): “I urge the Republican leadership to take the steps necessary to allow the full Senate to vote up or down on these important nominations.” (Congressional Record, 9/11/00)

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA): “We owe it to Americans across the country to give these nominees a vote. If our Republican colleagues don’t like them, vote against them. But give them a vote.” (Congressional Record, 2/3/98)

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA): “It is true that some Senators have voiced concerns about these nominations. But that should not prevent a roll call vote which gives every Senator the opportunity to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ ... Parties with cases, waiting to be heard by the federal courts deserve a decision by the Senate.” (Congressional Record, 9/21/99)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT): “I hope we … will accept our responsibility and vote people up or vote them down. … If we want to vote against them, vote against them.” (Congressional Record, 10/22/97)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT): “Now, every Senator can vote against any nominee. … But it is the responsibility of the U.S. Senate to at least bring them to a vote.” (Congressional Record, 10/22/97)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT): “ "I have stated over and over again … that I would object and fight against any filibuster on a judge, whether it is somebody I opposed or supported …” (Congressional Record, 6/18/98)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT): “[E]arlier this year … I noted how improper it would be to filibuster a judicial nomination.” (Congressional Record, 10/14/98)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT): “[I]f the person is otherwise qualified, he or she gets the vote. … Vote them up, vote them down.” (Congressional Record, 9/21/99)

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV): “[W]e should have up-or-down votes in the committee and on the floor.” (CNN’s “Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields,” 6/9/01)

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY): “[W]e are charged with voting on the nominees. The Constitution does not say if the Congress is controlled by a different party than the President there shall be no judges chosen.” (Congressional Record, 3/7/00)

Carl Levin (D-MI) "If a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate is prepared to vote to confirm the President's appointment, that vote should occur." (Cong. Rec., 6/21/95, S8806)

Compiled by Free Republic.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


OK, I admit it, I ran across this site because Sullivan posted a link to it, and, well, I was over there to check out the bitch slapping, and I feel really bad about it: PostSecret.

When the Elephants Fight . . . .

. . . . the grass is trampled. These singing, happy grasses will be quiet, until grokking in fullness is.

Meanwhile, those not so faint of heart may wish to follow the Blog Smackdown: Glenn Reynolds v. Andrew Sullivan, on what constitutes torture, or something like that.

Instapundit gets 145,000 hits per day. Sullivan's blog gets 45,000. I get 23.

I'll be quiet now.

Revenge of "Mother Goose"

Our Boston correspondent writes to remind us that we live today in a sea of data. These very words are recorded somewhere, perhaps copied somewhere else, and may never be wholly obliterated. There are WebCams we can use to watch people walking down a street thousands of miles away, we can tune in to a radio station on the other wide of the world. We carry phones that connect us to everyone, and a call may be answered by another digital device, and our mundane "Home soon, Hon" recorded for later retrieval.

At the same time, life continues to play out with its ancient rhythms and themes: The mother defending her children, the little old lady who fights back, the careless jerk who gets what he deserves. Which brings us to our story for today.

It seems an otherwise ordinary fellow, operations manager for a Dallas Jack in the Box, was stuck in traffic when it became clear that he would be late for a meeting. So he punched up his cell phone, and called his boss to tell him. His boss did not answer, but our hero began to leave a voice-mail message. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Just as he was about done with his explanation of his tardiness, there was an accident on the road right in front of him. Rather than hang up, he proceeded to record a play-by-play.

No one was hurt (well, no one who didn't clearly deserve it), and the recording is otherwise office-safe. It's a riot, click [HERE].

Hat tip to Uncle Michael.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Think Carpetbaggers & Reconstruction

One needs to read Tom Friedman. Notice I didn't say one needs to agree with him, at least not all the time. But by NYT standards he is wildly rational.

Today's column is [HERE], and is titled "Outrage and Silence." It contrasts the Muslim world's loud outrage over a (false) Newsweek story of Koran desecration with its bizarre silence when it comes to terrorist murder:

Yet these mass murders - this desecration and dismemberment of real Muslims by other Muslims - have not prompted a single protest march anywhere in the Muslim world. And I have not read of a single fatwa issued by any Muslim cleric outside Iraq condemning these indiscriminate mass murders of Iraqi Shiites and Kurds by these jihadist suicide bombers, many of whom, according to a Washington Post report, are coming from Saudi Arabia.

The Muslim world's silence about the real desecration of Iraqis, coupled with its outrage over the alleged desecration of a Koran, highlights what we are up against in trying to stabilize Iraq - as well as the only workable strategy going forward.

Friedman goes on to make a point that I, at least, had not previously understood. I certainly knew that Sunnis and Shia believed each other to be fundamentally in error with respect to various important theological questions. I certainly understood that, since this split has ancient roots, it has become not only a religious dispute, but a cultural and political fight. But I guess I naively supposed that the proper analogy was to Anglicans and Methodists fiercely disputing over John Wesley. Friedman says that's about as wrong as one could be:
Religiously, if you want to know how the Sunni Arab world views a Shiite's being elected leader of Iraq, for the first time ever, think about how whites in Alabama would have felt about a black governor's being installed there in 1920. Some Sunnis do not think Shiites are authentic Muslims, and are indifferent to their brutalization.
That creates, as Friedman points out, rather a steeper hill to climb than I had completely understood. It has certainly long been clear that the road would be hard on the political side:
At the same time, politically speaking, some Arab regimes prefer to see the pot boiling in Iraq so the democratization process can never spread to their countries. That's why their official newspapers rarely describe the murders of civilians in Iraq as a massacre or acts of terror. Such crimes are usually sanitized as "resistance" to occupation.
The whole column is worth study. Go ahead: Buy the darned NYT, and tear Friedman's column out right away, so no one sees you with the rest of the paper.

Star Wars

I suppose it was inevitable. The intersection of two lumbering strains of American popular culture: Star Wars Gangsta Rap. No, really!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

"My Daddy's Name is Donor"

As nearly as I can tell, "Family Evolutions" is not a hoax. (To be completely honest, when first I saw it I assumed it WAS a hoax.)

Available are T-shirts for little tykes:

and other threads for the whole family. I don't think there's anything to say. Hat tip to Dawn Eden.

Digital Diary

It turns out it was a donor digit. The found finger in the cup of Wendy's chili was not only a hoax (as we have known for some time) but the item itself came from a friend of a friend.

For loyal readers who have missed the denouement of the "Wendy's Finger Caper," we briefly recapitulate. Last month a woman from Las Vegas (why does that somehow seem important?), Anna Ayala, was arrested for fraud, having claimed in March that she had bitten down on a human finger while sampling tasty tidbits of chili at a San Jose (why does that somehow seem important?) Wendy's. Not so, said the cops, and now they've zeroed in on the source of the central character in this morality play. San Jose police Chief Rob Davis now says:
The finger that a woman said she found in a bowl of Wendy's chili came from an associate of her husband who lost the digit in an industrial accident, police said Friday.
And more:
The man is from Nevada and lost a part of his finger in an accident last December, Davis said. His identity was traced through a tip made to Wendy's hot line, he said. He said authorities "positively confirmed that this subject was in fact the source of the fingertip."
One can only speculate on the nature of the conversations between husband and wife, and the negotiations with the item's original owner, that caused the thing to make such a long strange trip.

"Honey, I'm home.
"How was your day, baby? Same old same old?
"Pretty much. Bobby chopped a piece of his finger somehow.
"Really? Did you bring it home?
"Of course? Do you think I'd forget a thing like that?
"Sorry, hon. What should we do with this one? Use it to scare the kids again? Or is it big enough for a dog treat?
"Nahh, remember: Trixie wouldn't even eat that ear I brought home last week. Hey, I know, let's claim it's yours, and you lost it in an elevator door! Then we can get a lot of money from the building owner!
"Hey, great idea. But wait: What if somebody rats us out, and then the cops count my fingers?"
"Bummer. Waitaminit! I've got a better idea! And this one's just crazy enough to work . . .

The latest news release is [HERE].

Monday, May 16, 2005

Think this is easy?

Even my old friend the New York Times doesn't think it's easy! Read about the trials and tribulations of a volunteer guest-blogger, titled "Blogging, as in Slogging."


A Good Point

I couldn't figure out what Professor Reynolds was getting at in the first paragraph, but it gets a lot clearer in the second:

I want to add that I don't think there's anything immoral about flushing a Koran (or a Bible) down the toilet, assuming you've got a toilet that's up to that rather daunting task, and I think it's amusing to hear people who usually worry about excessive concern for religious beliefs suddenly taking a different position. Nor do I think that doing so counts as torture, and I think that it debases the meaning of "torture" to claim otherwise. If this had happened, it might have been -- indeed, would have been -- impolitic or unwise. But not evil.

And anyone who thinks otherwise needs to be willing to apply the same kind of criticism to things like Piss Christ, or to explain why offending the sensibilities of one kind of religious believer is "art" while doing the same in another context is "torture." If, that is, they want to be taken at all seriously.

From InstaPundit. (Hey! I just thought I'd steer a little traffic his way.)

Well, maybe she has a jingle . . . .

One of my most faithful correspondents, ShortTimer, sent me an email today that said something like "Hey, how come Dawn Eden has a frickin' JINGLE, and YOU DON'T?"

Well, of course, I didn't believe him. I mean, even Glenn Reynolds doesn't have his own jingle. What blog has a JINGLE?

But she does, of course, HERE.

But ShortTimer remedied the deficiency. Since his talents are strictly non-musical, he has instead provided a limerick:

There once was a gentleman farmer,
Who was neither a tiller nor charmer.
But he's writing a blog
That's dispelling some fog,
'though sometimes he's quite the alarmer.

"Doubting Rationalist"

Yesterday's Washington Post (Sunday, May 15) included this article by reporter Michael Powell: A long feature piece on Professor Philip Johnson.

Johnson received his bachelor's degree from Harvard College, graduated first in his law school class from the University of Chicago, and then clerked for Earle Warren, Chief Justice of the United States. In 1967, as the Post puts it, he "went west to Berkeley, where he would gain international renown as a teacher of criminal law and legal theory." He is now Professor emeritus of Law at the University of California at Berkeley.

And, oh yes, Professor Johnson thinks evolution is a crock:

"I suppose you think creation is all about unguided material processes, don't you? Well, I don't have the slightest trouble accepting microevolution as the cause behind the adaptation of the peppered moth and the growth of finches' beaks. But I don't see that evolutionists have any cause for jubilation there.

"It doesn't tell you how the moths and birds and trees got there in the first place. The human body is packed with marvels, eyes and lungs and cells, and evolutionary gradualism can't account for that."

As the Post goes on to explain:

For centuries, scriptural literalists have insisted that God created Heaven and Earth in seven days, that the world is about 6,000 years old and fossils are figments of the paleontological imagination. Their grasp on popular opinion was strong, but they have suffered a half-century's worth of defeats in the courts and lampooning by the intelligentsia.

Now comes Johnson, a devout Presbyterian and accomplished legal theorist, and he doesn't dance on the head of biblical pins. He agrees the world is billions of years old and that dinosaurs walked the earth. Evolution is the bridge he won't cross. This man, whose life has touched every station of the rationalist cross from Harvard to the University of Chicago to clerk at the Supreme Court, is the founding father of the "intelligent design" movement.

Intelligent design holds that the machinery of life is so complex as to require the and -- perhaps subtle, perhaps not -- of an intelligent creator.

Johnson is no snake-handler from the piney woods.
Johnson and his followers, microbiologists and geologists and philosophers, debate in the language of science rather than Scripture. They point to the complexity of the human cell, with its natural motors and miles of coding. They document the scant physical evidence for the large-scale mutations needed to make the long journey from primitive prokaryote to modern man.
And astoundingly, The Post doesn't pull any punches respecting the religious views of those who belittle the movement:
William Provine, a prominent evolutionary biology professor at Cornell University, enjoys the law professor's company and has invited Johnson to his classroom. The men love the rhetorical thrust and parry and often share beers afterward. Provine, an atheist, also dismisses his friend as a Christian creationist and intelligent design as discredited science.
And a little later:
Provine's faith, if one may call it that, rests on Darwinism, which he describes as the greatest engine of atheism devised by man.
Johnson, who came to Christ as an adult, came also to Darwinism late in life:

"I realized," he says, "that if the pure Darwinist account was accurate and life is all about an undirected material process, then Christian metaphysics and religious belief are fantasy. Here was a chance to make a great contribution."

Most interesting is The Post's explanation of the difficulties of evolutionism:

It sounds so tidy. But evolutionary theory -- like most scientific theories -- trails behind it no small number of unanswered questions, lacunae and mysteries.

Darwin, for instance, noted that different species tend to have similar body features, and attributed this "convergence" to a common ancestor. But that often isn't the case. The complex eye of a squid and a human are nearly identical yet lack a common genetic inheritance. The renowned biologist Simon Conway Morris has found many such examples in nature and proposed that it's "near inevitable" that species converge toward an intelligent "solution" to life.

Morris's theory treads a touch too close to Heaven for many biologists.

Then there's the inconvenient fact that most species evolve little during the span of their existence, which leaves the mystery of how to account for evolutionary leaps. The late biologist Stephen Jay Gould speculated that species become isolated and mutate in revolutionary transitions of a few thousand years. That remains a controversial explanation.

"Some biologists still argue that you can get to high evolutionary forms purely through natural selection," says Theodore Roszak, a noted historian of science. "That involves more faith in chance than religious people have in the Bible."

Just so. Read the whole thing.

Contributions Accepted

Many blogs accept contributions, often via PayPal, to help with expenses. Here we are more ambitious. Send this (shipping address provided upon request):
This is, of course, the Lego model of an Imperial Star Destroyer: More than a yard long, nearly two feet wide, made up of over 3,100 pieces.
Order [HERE].

Voters to Senate: VOTE!

By all accounts, the great Judicial Confirmation showdown will commence some time this week, and reach a climax next.

This is not about limiting debate. Every senator should be given whatever amount of time is necessary to say anything relevant. Twice. Three times.

This is not about the qualifications, ideology or religious views of any of the nominees who have so far failed to get a vote. Every senator should decide whether to vote for or against each nominee, and should use such criteria as seem best: temperament, scholarship, experience, philosophy, ideology, sex, religion, race, height, weight, eye color.

This is about the fact that the President of the United States is entitled to appoint federal judges, and the Senate is entitled to reject or confirm those appointments.

The President has appointed, and it's time for the Senate to vote.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

When I Grow Up

I aspire to receiving email like [THIS]. Yes I do.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Bert needs your help

Bert Krieger of 6/12 Mallam Crescent in Alice Springs (Australia you ignorant buffoon), placed this personal advertisement in Wednesday's edition of the Alice Springs News, which bills itself as the largest independent newspaper in the Northern Territory (circulation 11,400):
I believe someone in this town is talking very dirty about me. Is there anyone who can let me know in writing, who the person is, and what they are saying about me, so that I am able to defend myself. In advance I would like to say Thank you for your Cooperation.
If you know anything that might ease Bert's mind, drop him a line.

Of course I'm not making it up, click [HERE] for the online front page (there's a rather nice pic of Alice Springs right there at the top), and then [HERE] for the "classified adverts."

One can only lament that such advertisements would appear to be impractical here in Washington.

The New York Times, Astrology, & Why John Bolton is a Psychopath

No! Really! You could look it up [HERE] at PowerLine, from the Weekly Standard.

Tom Friedman is Flat

At least according to Minuteman over at JustOneMinute:
"He Lost Me With 'Hello'"

And WHAT was your point?

Mickey Kaus is hyperventilating, having discovered that Ken Starr appeared on Nightline back in April and, with respect to use of the filibuster, said
Well, the Senate has the raw power and has, in fact, used it once famously, in the process of considering the proposed elevation of Abe Fortas to the Chief Justice-ship. But I think it's imprudent and unwise for senators to invoke this important device.
He also said, about the wisdom of doing away with the filibuster altogether,
I'd be very cautious about getting rid of it. I think that the filibuster rule's a part of our traditions. But I think it needs to be, like a lot of tools in the tool chest, very cautiously used.
So: Judge Starr appears to think the filibuster ought not to be abolished, but it ought to be used "very cautiously."

While I'm always pleased to know what Ken Starr thinks about most anything, what does this have to do with whether Gloria Borger and CBS performed stupid editor tricks with their tape of an interview with Starr?

The answer, of course, [drum roll, please] is NOTHING AT ALL!

Actually, what Kaus really seems to be excited about is having documented an instance in which Rush Limbaugh has not only exaggerated, but done so at some length, and with considerable pomposity. This angle might be turned into a continuing series of articles: Paris Hilton's sex life; John Kerry's wit; the President's oratorical skill.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Spelling Counts

We have posted here, Charles Johnson has posted here, PowerLine has posted here. The long and the short of it is that, in a story fronted by Gloria Borger, an interview with Kenneth Starr was edited so as to make it seem he was saying something he was not saying.

The question before the house is whether this was done on purpose, or otherwise.

We have perhaps a more moderate view, since we know Ms. Borger very slightly. This should come as no surprise. If one is a permanent resident of Washington, an upper-middle class professional, of a certain age, with children of a certain age, then one will necessarily cross paths at schools and Little League games with folks like Ms. Borger.

But because we know her slightly we are perhaps more willing than others may be to see her as a real person, rather than a faceless political operative, a cog in a great corporate conspiracy. Of course, it is possible that Ms. Borger is a fool, a hack, or possessed by demons. But we think she is not.

This lapse by CBS and Ms. Borger differs in an essential element from, for example, RatherGate, or the CBS story of missing explosives in Baghdad. In those stories the structure of the situation made it clear that there existed no individual who was in a position to authoritatively deny the truth of the story as reported. In the present case Judge Starr can (and has) denied that he said what the edited interview has him saying. Ms. Borger, of course, was entirely aware of this fact. It is simply silly to suggest that she would approve the bizarre editing of the piece that actually occurred. To think otherwise, one must assume that Ms. Borger concluded that neither Judge Starr, nor anyone in a position to call upon Judge Starr, would notice. This is absurd.

The problem is one of proofreading. Without knowing, of course, we are nevertheless confident that after the interview was taped, and edited, and various fact checkers, producers, writers, sound editors and the like had done their work, and the introductions and additional voice-overs and such had been written and recorded, one critical thing did NOT happen: Ms. Borger, as the face of the piece, did not sit down, well-rested, with enough but not too much coffee having been drunk, and view the entire story exactly as it would air and determine that it should be released as her work.

And we come now to the point of this lesson. We have been treated recently to lectures from the usual suspects as to ethics in the blogosphere. The NYT explained that we needed to get serious. Cal Thomas suggests that what we do "diverts attention" from "real and serious" journalism.

We think that CBS needs to get serious. The piece you are reading now has a single author. It is either correct or not correct, useful or not useful, biased or not biased. In that, it is typical of the blogosphere. There is only one Instapundit. There are only three writers at PowerLine. There is only one Little Green Football. But the piece run by CBS is the work of a large number of editors, writers, producers, fact-checkers and, finally, "talent." Ms. Borger is "talent." In the final analysis, she can apologize and explain that the editing mishaps were committed by others, who were not aware of the entire situation, with everyone working under extreme time pressure, and that all concerned are ever so sorry if anyone has been misled.

But at one end of the blogosphere Professor Reynolds is wholly responsible for what he posts, and at the other end, we are wholly responsible for what you are reading.

The vast corporate media empires need to take a lesson from the blogosphere. Perhaps, at the end of every story (as there is at the end of every political commercial paid for by the candidate) there should be included a straightforward, declarative statement: "I’m Gloria Borger, and I’ve approved this report as my own work." There would then be no doubt who to blame, or who to praise.

Because spelling counts.

What's Right With Kansas?

A fellow named Thomas Frank wrote a book last year titled "What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America."

His thesis – like that of the rest of the Democratic Party – was that, since it is obvious that ordinary people (farmers, factory workers, small businessmen and the like) should vote for Democrats, there is some sort of deception involved when enormous majorities of Kansans vote for Republicans. The egregious Molly Ivans simpered
I promise y'all, this is the only way to understand why so many Americans have decided to vote against their own economic and political interests.
Over at Blackfive, a miliblog, not usually home to this sort of thing, a response has been posted. Go over and read it HERE.

CBS News: Again?

It appears likely that CBS has AGAIN been caught dishonestly manipulating the news. If you have to ask who benefits, then you haven't been paying attention. The network that brought us "fake but accurate" memos about the President, now has aired an "edited" interview with Ken Starr. I guess that makes it accurate but fake.

The controversy surrounds a piece by Gloria Borger, broadcast Monday, May 9. It is alleged that CBS edited an interview with Ken Starr so that he seems to be sharply criticizing the Republican move to change Senate rules so that the president's judicial nominees can be voted on. Starr now says this is not true, and that he was in fact condemning the current practice of opposing judicial nominees on the basis of their ideology. If you watch the interview, it seems odd on its face. The quote alleged to have been taken out of context leads the piece, but a later quote from Starr clearly places him in favor of an up or down vote.

This is the blogosphere, so don't take my word for it. The CBS video is [HERE], and Rush Limbaugh says he has an email from Starr, which he discusses (need I say dramatically and at length?) and quotes from [HERE]. Of course, Karl Rove may have edited the video that seems to have been posted by CBS, and Limbaugh may have been distracted, and actually received an email from Ben Star, the manager of the local Pizza Hut. But I don't think so.

Alan K. Henderson beat PowerLine to this story, though not by much.

[UPDATE] Judge Starr also sent an email explanation to Ramesh Ponnuru at National Review Online. Read it [HERE].

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Air Jesus

Available HERE, via The Corner at NRO.

United Nations v. Blogosphere

What happens when the UN gang that couldn't shoot straight sets its sights on a blogger? It produces Roger Simon's very first 50,000 hit day.

Here's the lame UN release (You've got to love the picture at the top of the page. I think that second Land Rover still has Jersey plates on it).

Here's the story from Captain's Quarters.

This Election News Just In!

I know. You're tired of hearing about the election. Hell, I'm already tired of the NEXT election.

But still, from our "Who stole what?" department, comes
this story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. You may recall that the Democratic presidential candidate (whoever that guy was) only won Wisconsin by about 11,000 votes. Well, it seems that in Milwaukee (where that guy was credited with 71% of the votes) the number of ballots that were counted exceeded the number of voters who actually voted on election day by about 4,600, that 200 felons voted (that's illegal), and at least 100 people voted twice.

Oh yes: and these "irregularities" are from the 70,000 voters who registered on election day, not the other 200,000-some Milwaukee voters.

Sigh . . . . .



From today's edition of the Stanford Daily, comes this headline (the lead story, complete with picture of concerned students):

Students mark Nakbah, Palestinian catastrophe

Yes sir, right there at the top of the page. And what, you might ask, is "Nakbah?" To what Palestinian "catastrophe" does it refer? To the decades of kleptocratic dictatorship by Arafat? It is well for you to ask since, were you to rely upon your own knowledge, or even a graduate degree in history, you'd come up short.

“Nakbah is the most important date on the Palestinian calendar,” said sophomore Omar Shakir, co-president of the Coalition for Justice in the Middle East, or CJME, during the Nakbah Day event held yesterday in White Plaza, as part of Palestinian Awareness Month.

The student group said on its Web site that the event was to commemorate the destruction of Palestinian society and the dispossession of the Palestinian people by Zionist forces in 1947-1948. Nakbah means catastrophe in Arabic.

And there you have it. As you know, in 1947 the United Nations partitioned the British Middle East Mandate so as to create an Arab State (Jordan) (despite the fact that there existed at that time several Arab states) and a Jewish State (Israel), to provide a homeland for those Jews who had somehow managed to avoid being murdered by the the Nazis, the Soviets, the Turks, the French, and anyone else who happened to be around.

One must assume that the "catastrophe" lay in the fact that when all of the Arab countries in the region attacked Israel, this time the Jews refused to lay down and die quietly. How impolite of them. How dastardly. Israel fought back against the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon when they launched the attacks that were to be, in the words of Azzam Pasha, the Secretary-General of the Arab League .
. . a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.
At Stanford yesterday there was, at least, a small counter-rally, but I fear its members had themselves already bought too much nonesense.
One of the students, sophomore Lyuba Wolf, said, “We’re not here to protest the existence of a Palestinian state or Palestinian dignity. This is a distortion in that it portrays Israelis as oppressors and Palestinians as innocent victims, when in reality the situation is much more complicated. We just want to give people a chance to see some of the nuances of the situation.”

Sorry, Ms. Wolf, you were doing fine there for a while, but then the wheels came off: the situation is not really very complicated, and there are few nuances.

A Palestinian catastrophe, indeed. Read the whole thing HERE. There was free falafel.

A New Gift Idea

I'm quite used to cartoon characters and their use in branded merchandise: the Mickey Mouse lunch box, the Homer Simpson t-shirt, the Rocky & Bullwinkle toilet seat. You know, that kind of thing.

But I was unfamiliar with the concept of the lovable parasite.

Yes indeed. "Parasite Pals" brings you a cute little blond girl named "Holly Hostess," (get it?) and her four buddies: Blinky, the eyelash mite; Zzeez, the bedbug; Dig Dig, the head louse; and, my personal favorite, Tickles, the tape worm. Here's Tickles, in a nice embroidered patch:

Here's another patch of Tickles, well, in situ:

There are coin pouches, note paper, key chains, all sorts of fun stuff. Why, there's even a Dig Dig (the head louse) compact and comb. How sweet.

All right here, in macromedia flash, at Parasite Pals.

Islam & Martin Luther

Begin with The Whig Interpretation of History, move on to a consideration of the relationship between the Renaissance and the Reformation, and arrive with few delays at the conclusion that Islam in the 21st Century could use a Martin Luther.

Useful thinking today from Samizdata, read the whole thing, [HERE].

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I Feel so USED . . . . .

One of Jean Shepherd’s stories relates his emotional whiplash when, as a child, he waited anxiously, day by day, for the mailman to bring his long-sought-after Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring.

When it finally arrives, Shep waits with barely-controlled excitement for that evening’s radio broadcast, at the close of which will be delivered the secret, encoded message. This he painstakingly works out with the Decoder Ring, only to be crushed and outraged when it turns out to be “Drink More Ovaltine.” “A lousy advertisement!”

The Bovine Blog, listed to the right, included daily postings of what I thought rather clever entries ostensibly by Millie the Cow. Now I discover that the blog and the web site to which it links is a lousy ad! And for the Maryland Lottery, to boot! Oh shame! The humiliation!

I still think it's pretty clever.

[Yes, I know this story is included in the movie “A Christmas Story.” That movie is a compilation of Shepherd’s stories (few of which actually had anything to do with Christmas), many taken from his book “In God We Trust – All Others Pay Cash.” Some of us, however, heard it from the master himself. I over WOR radio in New York, more or less 45 years ago.]

Monday, May 09, 2005

Pizza for Peace, man . . . .


Our British cousins at the BBC bring us this story from our mutual cousins down under:
A two-day prison siege in Australia has ended after inmates agreed to exchange their hostage for a delivery of pizzas.
It seems a group of 20 inmates at a maximum security institution took hostages on Saturday (a guard and "other prisoners" [during the war, we were ALL Swiss]).

To make a long story short, they traded the guard for the delivery of 15 pizzas. While they had initially issued a list of 24 demands,

Once the inmates . . . had eaten their fill, they let the other hostages go.
Completely understandable.
There are few things I would not do for 15 pizzas.

Driver's Ed

When I was in High School, there was a course called “Driver's Ed” that pretty much everyone took, mostly as Juniors. [YES, it was indeed some time ago; NO, no horses were involved; YES, I think that's where they put the damned apostrophe.]

The purpose of the course was not complex: Before long a horde of new drivers would be licensed to operate motor vehicles on the public thoroughfares of the Garden State. The Powers that Be thought (correctly) that the High School was a good place to teach these hooligans something about the safe operation of automobiles, as well as the rules that limited what one could and could not do once a license was issued.

The community (through the legislature) had determined that one could not be licensed to drive before reaching the age (as I recall) of 16. It was presumably thought that, before that age, one was insufficiently mature to be anything but a danger to one’s self and others. And the course was given only to students of about that age.

I don’t recall anyone suggesting that 12-year-olds should be given the course since, well, we all know that they’re going to be driving anyway, there’s no way to stop them, so we’d just better make the best of it and teach them how to be stupid carefully. I also seem to recall that the course was exclusively about the proper operation of an automobile, kept within the limits of its intended purpose.

There were no lessons, for example, on the best way to minimize casualties if you decided to drive on the sidewalk, instead of in the street that had been provided for that purpose. Similarly, there were no lessons in making high-speed jumps off ramps, or driving in reverse at 35 miles per hour, or steering with your knees while not spilling your beer. If any of these was part of the curriculum, I was absent that day.

I’m pretty sure we didn’t have a course in Sex Ed. We did have auto shop.

What's That Class About?

Let's try a thought experiment. Imagine you are in a large High School, and you stick your head into first this classroom, and then that one. How will you know what class is being taught in each? Well, if there are equations on the board, with x's and y's, and an axis on which a line has been drawn, I'd bet on algebra. If there's a discussion of the Constitution, then go with American History or Civics. It's really quite easy: You know what the class is about based on what's being taught. It's a matter of content. Similarly, if you were asked to design a course outline you'd need to know what the class was supposed to be about, since the curriculum would be quite different depending on whether you were to be teaching Differential Calculus, The Art of the Souffle, or Small Unit Tactics.

Which brings us to today's topic: "Sex" education. [I see I now have your full attention.]

Here at the Center of the Empire, there has been a flap in nearby Montgomery County (MD) over a proposed new sex education curriculum. WaPo stories (registration required) are HERE and HERE. In granting a preliminary injunction bringing the new curriculum to at least a temporary halt, the Post reports what the judge found:
"Defendants [the school system] open up the classroom to the subject of homosexuality and specifically, the moral rightness of the homosexual lifestyle," the judge wrote in a 22-page opinion. "However, the Revised Curriculum presents only one view on the subject -- that homosexuality is a natural and morally correct lifestyle -- to the exclusion of other perspectives."
He also pointed to another angle taken by the new course:
"The Revised Curriculum notes that 'Fundamentalists are more likely to have negative attitudes about gay people than those with other religious views.' The Revised Curriculum also paints certain Christian sects, notably Baptists, which are opposed to homosexuality, as unenlightened and Biblically misguided," he wrote.
The school system's attorney didn't see what all the ruckus was about
. . . because parents who opposed the new curriculum could opt out of the unit and choose an alternative curriculum for their children.
We'll have to remember this attorney's name when someone next proposes a voluntary prayer each day before school, and each child is given the opportunity to opt out.

We now know part of "what's the course about?"

Dawn Eden provides us with more information regarding what some authorities believe should not be included. In "Abstinence - Real Scary, Kids," she has collected excerpts from "SIECUS" (the "Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States") a fellow traveler of Planned Parenthood.
SIECUS argues:
In recent years there has been a proliferation of curricula used in abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Many of these curricula are designed to control young people’s sexual behavior by instilling fear, shame, and guilt.
It goes on to cite several examples of what it seems to feel are outrageous attempts simply to terrify our teens. Remember, these are quotations from abstinence programs, chosen by SIECUS to prove their point -- that such programs have been put together by moonbats. My favorite is this terrifying selection:

Question: "What are the risks of being sexually active?"

Answer: "Teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, low self-esteem, loss of reputation, feelings of being used."

Seems about right to me. But think more carefully. The society that's ever so careful to give the same trophies to both the winners and the losers of the soccer game, lest the losers' self-esteem suffer, also tells us that it's silly to worry about a young women who graduates from High School having had three or four different sex partners.

So now we've got quite a good idea of what’s being taught: homosexuality is a natural and morally correct behavior, some religious groups have some really wild ideas about sex (and they've got their theology wrong, to boot), and there's really nothing at all negative, let alone scary, about promiscuous sexual behavior.

These are all (I suppose) defensible propositions, but they certainly have little to do with "sex" education.

Instead, of course, these matters properly belong in a course on morality. If you stuck your head into a classroom and overheard such discussions, you’d know that you had come upon a course in ethics or morals: What's right, what's wrong, and how do we tell the difference?

Do you think it's the place of the State, which compels your child to attend public school, to require your child to study the State's version of morals?

I didn't think so.

[UPDATE] More on SIECUS HERE. This is a wild bunch, boys and girls.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Athletes on Drugs! BOO! HISS!

We all know that use of steroids -- or other "performance enhancing" drugs -- is bad. It's "bad" because it's unnatural. It causes the athlete to acquire extreme abilities, via an artificial route. It is thus not the same as nutritional supplements or an exercise routine.

How about glasses? If Pete Rose's eyesight is only 20/40, can he wear glasses to correct his vision to 20/20? Can he wear glasses to correct his vision to 20/15? What if his vision, when corrected, is actually better than normal (like that of your humble and obedient servant)?

What if you've got a torn ligament in your left elbow? Is it permissible to have surgery (how about experimental surgery) to correct it? Of course it is! We're not rubes here! That's "Tommy John" surgery, and it's now more or less routine.

Well, what about having similar surgery, in the absence of a defect, that makes those ligaments stronger than they otherwise would be?

Enough. WIRED has been there ahead of me, and it's worth reading, HERE.

Coin Shrinking?

Is it possible to make coins shrink by subjecting them to a strong magnetic field? That's sort of what I thought, too. That means that the Coin Shrinking & Can Crushing web site is a hoax, right?

If you're smarter than me (and that includes everyone reading this) prove to me that it's not true. Please.

eBay Comes Through

When I say "runaway bride" you know what I mean. [Unless you are so admirable a person that it is very unlikely that you would be reading this in the first place.] I mean Jennifer Wilbanks, about whom stories continue to be written, including this one, moved by the AP mere hours ago.

Do yourself a favor. Go to eBay and search for "Jennifer Wilbanks." No, wait, I've done it for you: CLICK HERE. Be patient. Don't be misled by the T-shirts and bumper stickers (although some of those are slightly clever): There's toast; there's cookies; who knows what will be there when you check.

Breathe it all in, contemplate, and then consider how lucky you are to be an American.

[UPDATE] Welcome Dawn Patrol readers. In the interest of full disclosure, please be aware that I have installed software that permits me to use your monitor to observe you. So you may wish to reconsider that rather unattractive bathrobe.

Not News: NYT Clueless

Today in the New York Times, Adam Cohen holds forth respecting ethics in the blogosphere. The problem is not so much that one disagrees with his conclusions, as it is that his conclusions are irrelevant, since he doesn't seem to know much of anything about the blogosphere or how it works. Not surprisingly, I'm not the first person to notice this.

Professor Reynolds will direct you, from [HERE] (second entry).


I've heard of "extreme skiing." And I suppose that any society that could conceive of "American Idol" is capable of making any sport "extreme." [For example, speed skating over a course blocked by land mines; golf with automatic weapons.]

But I had not heretofore know of "extreme ironing."

Friday, May 06, 2005

I Sat in the Back

If you sat in the front, then you're not going to understand what I'm talking about.

Throughout my 20-year academic career I always sat in the back of the class, if there was any way to engineer it. The world is divided into two groups: Sane, calm well-adjusted people like me, and those over-caffeinated, hand-waving, know-it-all teacher's pet types who jostle each other to sit in the front row. If you don't already know this, then you are in the latter group.

Mine is a mixed marriage, but my sons are split, 2 - 1, in favor of sane.

The ideal situation is a large lecture, the larger the better. Hardly anyone gets called on, there are always plenty of volunteers, the professor can't really see the back row anyway, and we can doze off in peace.

The front-row weenies and the professors (virtually all professors were, of course, front-row types) now think technology has come to their rescue. But they only think that because, well, because they are front-row weenies.

As reported [HERE], students can be issued hand-held devices that permit them to respond to questions:

The new technology isn't all that new, because it has been used for years in audience participation programs designed to evaluate entertainers and products and politicians and stuff like that, but it's pretty new to education. It allows teachers to pose questions and get immediate feedback from the entire class, and none of the students need to worry about exposing their ignorance.

The heart of the technology is a "clicker," very similar to the remotes we use to run our television sets, which sends student responses by infrared signals to a computer system that displays the results instantly.

"I display a question on the screen, and the students all start to click in," says psychologist Jeffrey Henriques of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. "Within about a minute I've gotten responses from about 200 students."

Henriques is sold on the technology because now he can tell instantly if any of those 200 faces are backed by a brain that is engaged, or if any of the students are understanding his lectures.

First, take note of the fact that this professor-promoter is from Wisconsin at Madison. A front-row sort of school to begin with. Second, observe that this entire system depends upon an unproven -- and erroneous -- assumption: that students will push the button for the right answer.

Sorry, but there is simply NO chance that is going to happen. You see, if the professor thinks we understand what he's talking about, he'll move on to more stuff, probably even more boring than the current stuff. And if he moves on, then there'll be even MORE stuff on that stupid exam.

So this system is doomed to failure, or destined to produce frustrated lecturers who can't understand why nobody gets it.

[Oh yeah, you're thinking that each device will also send a signal that tracks WHO keeps giving those bogus wrong answers, aren't you? We've already been there. See, there's this techie guy back at the dorm who can modify the things so that the system thinks my silly answer is really coming from that way cute girl down there in the front row.]

Scary Pictures

Below are links to two satellite pictures taken at night. Both show the Korean peninsula, one with a somewhat wider view than the other. My research department was assigned the task of verifying that these had not been photoshopped. They can't find anything to suggest that the pictures are a hoax, or otherwise don't show what they appear to show.

Your assignment for today is to look at both pictures, and look particularly at North Korea. If the utter darkness there doesn't scare you, then you're just not paying attention.

Korean peninsula [HERE]
Korean peninsula, wide view [HERE]

Thursday, May 05, 2005


James Lileks is having a down day, and wanders therefore back to his youth, hanging out and listening to the basement band of the cool, older boys who had guitars. But that was a while back:
Whoever lives in that house today has no idea. This is why I don't believe in ghosts: if they existed, they wouldn't float down the hallway weeping or make the walls drip with blood - they'd wake you up, whisper "come here" and bore you with a story about how little Jimmy used to sit in front of the window, here, and wait for the mailman when he sent away his boxtops for something. That's the stuff ghosts would want you to know about.
He's right about ghosts, you know, but he's not really quite old enough to see them yet, or know their actual habits.

Here at the Farm there are ghosts now, and I can't but wonder if only I can see, and whether they'll persist when I'm gone. They only appear when everything is just right, and only dimly then.

When it's Spring, but the day is cold and overcast, and light rain is blown by the wind, down there by the road you can sometimes see what seems to be the shadow of a man and small boy, wet and frozen, digging a hole to plant a tree. There's no tree there, but they seem intent. Then they trudge over by the pond, quickly dig another hole, and shove some sticks into the ground, right where that big lilac bush is growing now. But if it's sunny, and if it's warm, there's only the lilacs and the open field. A trick of the light, no doubt.

On Summer evenings, walking up the hill to the house, when it's not quite full dark, there's sometimes a glimmer of light on the porch (a candle on a low table, I think), with an older man to one side, and another, different, boy as well. But even the twilight is almost gone, and it's hard to see. Is the boy shuffling cards in the darkness, and laughing about the score of a game they're pretending to play? Surely one of them should have won by now. But the light and shadows have deceived you again, and no one is really there. Are they?

And some ghosts are there at full noon, in the glare of the sun, by God. When it's so hot the sweat trickles into your eyes, and the rising heat makes waves in the air. In the heavy hot silence down by the pond, you maybe hear a splash, and turn to look. The sun's on the water, the sweat's in your eyes, the air itself is playing tricks, but there's another boy again: this one small and delicate, with hair so pale he can't be real. He's got a fishing pole, and turns when you look, and cocks his head just so, and shades his eyes against the glare. Did he say something about "the mood of a fisherman?" Or you had that thought, or the wind sounded funny. But the little boy winks and smiles, and he's gone too.

I think it's not just me. I think the place itself remembers.

I heard a line of poetry a long time ago, and I've never been able to find it again. I have no idea where or who it's from, but I'm sure it's right: "The stones themselves have their biographies, which we cannot read." But sometimes maybe we can.

Darth Vader Has a Blog


Who knew? Could I make this up? I could not:
The Darth Side