The Countertop Chronicles

"Run by a gun zealot who's too blinded by the NRA" - Sam Penney of RaisingKaine.com

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

New UT President

As Glenn Reynolds could probably attest, things haven't been going so well in the University of Tennessee's search for a new president. Things finally appear to be changing.

I'm thrilled that Lamar Alexander was the president while I was there, sparing the students from this embarrassment, though I have to think this latest round of scandals is somehow related to the election of both a Democrat and a New Yorker as governor of the Volunteer State

A True Hero

This unidentified women is always free to stay with me and certainly earns a spot on my heros and tough guys board.
"She took three small glasses of hard liquor and, using a kitchen knife, sliced her abdomen in three attempts ... and delivered a male infant that breathed immediately and cried," said Dr R.F. Valle, of the Dr. Manuel Velasco Suarez Hospital in San Pablo, Mexico
If anyone has more information, please forward it.

Monday, April 05, 2004

"Lawless" John Kerry

Apparently, along with being a war criminal and a traitor, John Kerry is also a petty trademark infringer.

Site Problems

Apparently, there is some problem with the way this web page has been loading. I think it started the other night with my posting of the Wye River photos, but I am not sure. In any case, please bear with me as I try to work out the kinks today. I am still trying to put up the all new revised version of the Countertop Chronicles, but like everything else in the new economy, the most recent system update is plagued by unforeseen architectural (software) errors and their inherent delay.

That, and about 50 billion dollars, is all that separates Bill Gates from myself.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

The Retreat

Well, I didnt't get these up last night. Please excuse me. I ended up falling to sleep awfully early. Anyway, our retreat was at the stunningWye River Plantation. This historic property on the eastern shore is in a great location, completly removed from Washington, D.C. but only 70 something minutes away.

Its been the site of some famous events, like the 1998 Middle East Peace Talks and Elian Gonzalez's temporary reprieve from Castro. Most exciting for me though are that Paul Reed Smith guitars are made down the road. Hopefully, one day, I can justify the expense of getting one (or I will win one this fall)

Here's some of the pics. Sadly, unlike Glenn Reynolds, I can't afford a nice new Nikon D70. Still, my Kodak DX3900 still takes pretty decent pics for a point and shoot - and If I want something serious, I take out my Nikormat El and shoot Kodachrome 64.



I thought this was a great scultpture

Friday, April 02, 2004

I'm Back!!

Just spent an exciting couple of days on Marylands beautiful eastern shore. Sadly, it rained the who time but the beauty of the land was not lost. If you get a chance, read James Michener's Chesapeake.

Spent the time discussing various management things and also emerging issues we need to start tracking and covering. Two areas that piqued my attention were first, a forthcoming EPA attempt to define and/or regulate calculation of the "weight of the evidence" in conducting risk assessment or otherwise deciding where an agency will leverage its regulatory weight. I'll post much more this weekend on that. The other issue is one near and dear to Glenn Reynolds heart, nanotechnology.

I've got a couple of pics and will post them later tonite. I still need to unpack and shower. Till then ....

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Wictory Wednesday

While I'll be away plotting with other members of the vast right wing conspiracy over the next few days strategerizing over how to beat J. Forbes Kerry and his rich ketchup swilling, yacht sailing, leggo my ego waffling cronies into oblivion and end the liberal wing of the democratic party you too can do your part ...

Yes, You Too Can Work For The Cause and Together We Can Stop John Kerry.

Today is Wictory Wednesday. Every Wednesday from now till election day, I will ask my readers to volunteer and/or donate to the Bush campaign if they haven't done so already. And if you have volunteered and donated, then get a friend to join you. It's the only way to defeat the lying liberal media and their special interest pandering whores in Congress and in the Kerry Campaign.

If you're a blogger, you can join Wictory Wednesday simply by putting up a post like this every Wednesday, asking your readers to volunteer and/or donate to the president's re-election campaign.



Light Blogging

Sorry for the light bloggin today. I've been pretty busy preparing people for tomorrow's hearing on the new National Ambient Air Quality Standards before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Add to that the preparation for an upcoming major meeting of our membership with a print shop deadline of 5:00 pm today for all the materials, and I just haven't had the time to blog much.

I'll be traveling tomorrow and Friday, but hope to be able to make a couple of post's tomorrow evening. I enjoyed doing the Cherry Blossom photo blogging and will try to do some Eastern Shore of Maryland photoblogging when I get back (that's where I am headed).

In the meantime, there is lots of stuff already here for your viewing pleasure. I highly recommend a peek through the archives. You might also check out some of the other bloggers listed on the side.

Thanks for you understanding.

Good For K-Mart

Generally speaking, I hate K-Mart. As far as I am concerned, they singed a deal with the devil when they backed down in the face of the commie mommies and agreed to the fat bitch Rosie O'Donnel's demand that they leave the second amendment at the curb side.

However, apparently, there is a new team in place and they are the fiercely challenging overzealous tax authorities of cities (large and small) across the country. (WSJ, subscription may be required)
In a blitz of legal filings, Kmart has sued local governments from Anchorage to Palm Beach County, Fla. It has had the bankruptcy court issue hundreds of summonses in recent months and demanded swift responses from many small jurisdictions that often lack the funds or expertise to defend themselves in the Chicago proceedings.
. . . .
Government officials are fuming. "Fraud," cried Bibb County, Ga., in a court filing answering the lawsuit. Ventura County, Calif., called the suit a "shotgun" tactic designed to create "either a default judgment or a quick and advantageous forced settlement." Some jurisdictions have banded together to share the costs of fighting back.

By challenging parties in so many locales, Kmart is taking a big risk. While discount retailers normally bend over backward to keep up community relations, Kmart could end up engendering widespread disdain. Should Kmart ultimately prevail, many officials say, they will be forced to either cut back on local services or resort to tax increases.


Good for K-Mart. If you've got an online subscription, read the article. If not, pick up a copy of the journal at the newsstand (it'll be he smartest $1 investment you ever made). According to the article, the best defense the local towns seem to have is that they lack the resources to ascertain the proper valuation of the K-Mart property. Thats just too bad, isn't it.

They overcharge (ie: steal from) a vulnerable tax payer and now that they are challenged claim that they have neither the resources to defend themselves or to continue their current operations without the illicit gains.

Well, cry me a F'ing river. Perhaps they should consider cutting back on some other services (or even lower the local tax rates in the hope of attracting more employers) and living within their means.

Of course, now these officials are all predicting massive teacher layoffs because of the K-Mart tax challenges. What they haven't asked though is how much more money they would lose if K-Mart went out of business altogether and shut its doors (as has happened in many many other localities). Not only would they lose the tax on the value of K-Mart goods, they would also lose a substantial portion of real estate taxes on all other properties in town as the local real estate market was brought down with K-Mart, as well as losing the sales tax on goods sold and the income tax on the K-Mart employees. In fact, its a double hit concerning those unemployed K-Mart workers. In addition to losing income tax, the local communities would then have to fork over unemployment compensation to the unemployed as well as increasing the amount spent on welfare.

The problem here, as in so many areas, is that neither liberals nor local government officials think the law applies to them or their pet issues. Heck, they just don't think, period!

Me and Mr. Johnson

Tim Sandefur picked up the new Eric Clapton album, Me and Mr. Johnson and really likes it. I'm gonna second that recommendation. I dowloaded my copy from theiTunes music store last night and while I haven't listened to the whole album what I heard was Clapton's usual impressive self. I also downloaded a long time favorite of mine, Donald Fagen's Nightfly and listened to that instead. It jogged lots of memories of my many illicit Manhattan adventures. I can fairly say that for a period of time in the early 90s, when I spent considerable time prowling the nightclubs and jazz bars of Manhattan, the Nightfly was my theme song. Its incredible to think I haven't been in the City in over five years ... though I'll be returning (and blogging) during the upcoming Republican National Convention.

Fallujah Attack

Yahoo news is posting some very disturbing pictures of charred and mutilated victims of an attack in Fallujah. It seems the Fallujah Iraqis are quickly turning into the same barbarians that inhabit Mogadishu.

These pictures clearly show the faces of those in the crowd, and while we can't be certain of who actual undertook the attack, I see no reason for not rolling a division into Fallujah and silencing these terrorist barbarians for good, permanantly.

UPDATE - Glen Reynolds agree's that these barbarians are intent on turning Fallujah into Magadishu. However, as he points out, theirs a new sheriff in town and he ain't about to back down. Instead of parking a U.S. division in Fallujah, he makes a much better suggestion. End the infrastructure repairs and send a division of Kurds in, giving them free reign to do what they want. Hey, I guess thats why he's the professor and I'm not. He's just that much smarter than I. Wish I had thought of that idea.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Diabetes Breakthrough

If it pans out, a recent medical breakthrough might eliminate the risk of type 1 or juvenile diabetes through a simple vacine. This would be a tremendous advancement in the fight against thiss terrible form of the disease, that effects over 1 million of the 13 million diabetes sufferers.
"We believe this is the most promising compound to date for preventing type 1 diabetes," says researcher Yousef Al-Abed, PhD, an associate investigator at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Research Institute in Manhasset, N.Y., in a news release. "If it works, it will be especially beneficial for young people, who often have a difficult time managing their diabetes with daily insulin injections."


Hellish Randy Barnett Book Review

Tim Sandefur's review of Randy Barnett's book is brilliant.
I’ve been asked to review Randy Barnett’s new book, and it’s hell. Not because it’s a bad book, but because I consider everything he says to be such plain common sense that I can’t think of anything more to say!

Exactly

Free For Better Sales

Larry Lessig is guest blogging at Gelnreynolds.com and discussing the economics of giving away his book for free.
The argument is simple. We'll see if it is right. The basic assumption is this: (a) ebooks are a poor substitute (just now) for printed books. If that's true, then there are only two numbers you need to think about to decide whether giving a book away for free makes sense: (1) those who would have bought the book but won't because the book is now free, and (2) those who would never have seen the book had it not been available for free, but now because they see it, and given assumption (a), they buy it.

The only question a publisher needs to decide is whether (2) is greater than (1): If there are more who will buy it because they see it because it is free and will now now buy it because it is free, then making it free makes sense for the publisher.


I think this model is correct, and has been proven correct in the music business by recording artists like the Grateful Dead, Phish, Widespread Panic, etc. The so called hippy bands of course were not selling records per se, but rather seats at their concerts. By allowing fans to record and trade their concerts they greatly expanded their audience, resulting in more ticket sales (at higher prices) as well as more of all the products you sell at a concert - t-shirts, programs, food and drink, and not incidentaly CD sales.

Tear Down The Walls

and move them back 30 feet. Stuart Miller thinks this would Triple the Excitement of the game by returning athleticism and strategy to the game and end the spate of steroid assisted bulking up and sheer overpowering homerun hitting we have seen in recent years.
To trade homers for triples means returning to the ballparks of yore, stretching more than 450 feet to center field and 400 in left and right center. Creating cavernous ballparks would improve the game in other ways. Teams would covet faster outfielders to cover the extra ground, producing more truly heart-stopping catches — most outfielders today never see the opportunities that made Willie Mays famous. (Mays was more than 450 feet from home plate when he made "the Catch" against Vic Wertz in the 1954 World Series.) The emphasis on speed would also translate into more steals and more hit-and-run plays — and thus even more excitement.

With longer fences, pitchers would challenge hitters more while batters, unable to simply jack the ball out, would shorten their swings — resulting in far fewer strikeouts and walks and far more action.
Yes, I say. Yes!

Another Good D.C. Restaurant Post.

The Post's new Reliable Source (ie: Gossip Monger) Richard Leiby is reporting that Chris Rock and an old school hip hop entourage (Doug E. Fresh, Little Vicious, Nelson George and Grandmaster Flash) were spotted eating at Ortanique after filming an HBO Special at DAR Constitution Hall.

Ortanique is one of downtown D.C.'s great restaurants. The Hors d'ourves are exquisite, the wait staff is great, and the bar ladies are both very attractive and very creative. My wife loves their cranberry layered martinis.

If your in town, try to check them out. They have been very helpful to the Taste of the South event over the years. For what its worth, so has Calhoun's On The River in Knoxville, which should be of interest to all the Instapundit folks.

Union of Food Shoppers

More important to Washintonians than the forthcoming Condi Rice testimony, coming Cicada Armageddon, or Cherry Blossoms is today's union vote by Giant and Safeway Workers. For those outside the beltway, the two major grocery stores in the region are shut down till about 3:00 p.m. today so their employees can vote on either a new contract or whether to go on strike.

The grocers are looking to cut costs so they can compete with other alleged non union groceries in the area.

Leaving out the fact that most people work in the middle of the day and shouldn't be grocery shopping (and those that don't could always have gone yesterday or can go this evening) people around town have been stocking up on supplies like the blizzard of the century is about to hit. Actually, they appear more frantic over this short shut down than they did when we were hit with a hurricane last summer or the 3 1/2 feet of snow last winter.

John Tant is generally torn on the issue. If they do vote to strike, it sounds like Safeway or Giant may pick up another customer.

This of course, for me at least, all begs the question of where are these other grocery stores located.

I live in McLean where we have two Safeways, a Giant and a Gourmet Giant all within 2 miles of each other. That's where I shop (we are partial to Safeway because we like their employees better). There are dozens of other Giants and Safeways between here and DC and throughout the entire Inside the Beltway Region (many more Safeways it seems).

I know there is a Harris Teeter on North Glebe Road in Ballston, but thats almost a 30 minute car trip for me. Likewise, there is a Shoppers Food Warehouse at Seven Corners (behind the home depot where the snipers struck) That is also a good 20 minute car ride in traffic. John mentions Food Lion. The only one I know of is about 35 minutes away in Sterling, VA. Its prices for baby food are about 40% cheaper than they are in McLean - hence, I used to drive out there every Saturday. The boy is old enough to eat table food now, so thankfully I don't have to do that anymore. I've heard of Wegmans, but have no idea where it is.

If you know of other, non union supermarkets within a reasonable distance of downtown McLean, please let me know. I want to see if their prices are really that much lower, and if so, would love to save some money.

Condi Rice

OK. So, in case anyone hasn't gotten it yet, I fully support President Bush in all his responses to the war on terror so far. I sleep well at night, and don't worry for my families or my life, because I am secure that George W. Bush is doing what is right and necessary to defend the country from terrorists. Sure, more can and probably ought to be done, but I am confident he is doing all he can do and working to clean up the whole mess.

With that out of the way, even though I support him I also maintain a sense of humor. I think his skit on weapons of mass destruction was hilarious and the anger it has engendered on the left is even more amusing. Along those lines, of laughing when we all need to step back and laugh, I recommend you check out this Fark Condi Rice page. Boy, does she look pissed!

More Attacks On Mann

David Legates has another excellent article up on Tech Central Station once again detailing the faults with Michael Mann's and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on climate change.

The environmental scaremongering is just getting to be soo over the top this year. At least I am not the only person who has to deal with these left wing lies. Althouse is reporting that the National Organization of Women has also resorted to overthetop hyperbole.

Monday, March 29, 2004

D.C. In The Spring

I forgot to add this last picture. Its the D.C. Skyline at about 5:00 this evening. No, I didn't use photoshop or anything. That is what it really looked like. All I did was crop out some of the sky above and patio below to get the panoramic effect. It was truly an amazing day.

Cherry Blossom Time Is Here

As I stated earlier, today was absolutely gorgeous. Defiantly another one of the ten best days of the year. At lunch time it was clear and sunny, in the upper 60 to low 70s, with just the slightest of breezes. Tired from a hectic morning, I decided to take a stroll across town and check in on the action at the White House (where the new NATO members were being introduced) as well as checking out the Cherry Blossoms. I left the office, dressed in my suit but without the jacket, and armed only with my digital point and shoot camera, took these pictures.


This is at the corner of 16th St, N.W. and H. St. This fully bloomed cherry tree is in the front yard of the Hay Adam's hotel. The Hay Adam's is one of the more famous hotels in Washington, hosting foreign dignitaries and leaders of industry since the early 1900s. That's St. Johns Church in the background. It was built in 1816 by Benjamin Latrobe who also designed the White House. Every President since Madison has worshipped here, and I work with a women recently elected to the vestry who tells me she sees the President (and the previous Bush) quite often at Sunday Service. Lafayette Park and the White House are just across the street to the right.


On one side of Lafayette Square are various executive offices such as the Council on Environmental Quality, Office of Faith Based Initiatives, and the Office of AIDS policy. The block also houses the Renwick Gallery and Blair House. The other side houses the red brick building of the Court of Federal Claims and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. I spent an inordinate amount of my time in private law practice in this building. Its the most unique, and I think civilized, bar in D.C. and maybe the Country (I am not a member of the Supreme Court yet, so i can't compare to that).


LaFayette Park itself was very nice.


I mentioned earlier that President Bush welcomed the new members of NATO to the White House. Of course, whenever there is any event at the White House there is someone to protest it. These guys are Albanians ticked off at Fatos Nano,the current Albanian "leader for life" who led Albania out of the civil war the followed the fall of communism. Of course, according to them, he did so with his fist and by suppressing Albanians freedom of speech, and apparently freedom of photography as well. In any case, they were some of the better behaved protesters in D.C. this week.


Cherry Blossom time is also the official start of the tourist season. I was thrilled to see my first D.C. Duck Truck of the summer today. My son's 2nd birthday is in a couple of weeks and along with a trip to the zoo (which we do rain or shine), if the weather is nice were going to take him on a D.C. Duck ride. Sshh, don't tell him, its a surprise.


Of course, summer time and tourist season also means hordes of school kids, bad dressers, tour buses, incredibly bad dressers, and tour buses. Ask any Washingtonian what they dislike most about D.C. and the tourists are bound to be at the top of their list. I myself don't dislike them, and am thrilled that people from all over the country can so easily travel to the seat of their government and petition it for change or simply look at the national treasures we all own. In recent years, D.C. has emerged as a world class destination city, along with Paris, London, Rome, New York, and L.A. The mix of visitors from all over the world gives it a vibrant feel and for that I am thankful. What I don't like though, are the vendors hawking overpriced tourist trap crap and the really bad dressers. D.C. has enough bad dressers on its own, we don't need anyone else wearing sneakers, knee high socks, dumb and loud t-shirts, or obnoxious flower patterns.

The actual cherry blossoms are gorgeous.


The Tidal Basin

There were a large number of people out on paddle boats in the Tidal Basin. I've always wanted to kayak into there during the peak (and on the 4th of July), but I guess I will have to wait till next year.


Not a lot of people have seen this yet. Its the new World War II monument. Its set to open Memorial Day weekend. At this point, I was running behind and didn't have time to get closer shots. If its nice later this week, I'll try to post some. I wasn't happy when they started construction of this memorial. Like many others I had my doubts about the location and its impact on Lefant's grand design. However, from what I have seen, they really have created a fitting monument.


Haskoli Islands

I had someone from the Haskoli Islands visit today. Cool. Literally.

I've always wanted to go to Reykjavik and with the great rates on weekend packages that Icelandic Air is running out of BWI, it might be something the wife and I do this summer. Hmmm. . . .

I know my cousins in Sweden keep telling me how pretty it is.

In D.C. Area, It's the Day Of the Cicada

It seems like every D.C. Metro Area blog has something to say about the coming Day Of the Cicada. You will not see anything here until the predicted day does indeed arrive.

Ghost Worlds

The New York Times has a great story on the New York Subway Systems Ghost Stations, abandoned subway stations along active lines.

Its an interesting story, about something I knew existed but hadn't thought about in years. It certainely brings to mind the Lux Luthers underground lair in the first Superman movie.

Cherry Blossom Time

Yes folks, tourist season is official upon us. The Cherry Blossoms bloomed over the weekend and are at peak level right now.

Its a gorgeous day here in D.C. and I just spent the last hour walking from my office down to the tidal pool and back. I took about 40 pictures along the way on my digital camera and will post a nice assortment of them tonite, once they are downloaded to the mac. I can't really import the pictures onto this computer.

Tarazet

And you thought Jeff Soyer (aka Alphecca) only posted about guns and the Upper Connecticut River Valley of Vermont. How wrong you were. Jeff is truly multidimensional, and his latest blog, Tarazet is a treasure trove for pet lovers throughout the blogsphere. Check it out!

By the way, the weekly check on gun bias inthe media should be up.

The Green's Real Agenda

The market leaders in the Doomsday Scare Environmental Fund Raising Industry like Greenpeace, the rascist Sierra Club, the extortionist Natural Resource Defense Council, and their partner of the last 15 years the Democratic Party, are all trying to sell their new fund raising scam to average American's ie: President Bush's proposals are destroying the environment and only the Doomsday Scare Environmental Fund Raising Industry cares enough to save you from Armageddon (and terrorist attacks and economic collapse).

Well, it seems to me that President Bush must be doing something right when the worst criticism the New York Times can raise in its lead editorial is that both of Bush's recent air pollution proposals are ambitious (mercury "seems impressive" and IAQR is "generally a good proposal") but ultimately flawed because they don't push utilities to the brink of bankruptcy fast enough.
The administration's proposal aims at a 30 percent reduction in power plant emissions by 2010 and a 70 percent reduction by 2018, mainly through a market-based trading system that would let companies choose to reduce their own emissions or to buy credits from other companies. . .

These targets seem impressive. . . . .

Mr. Leavitt has also discovered that even the target of 70 percent cannot be achieved because of quirks in the proposed trading system. So he is now promising a new or amended version. By all accounts, he is going about it the right way (consulting his experts, for once) and asking the right question: what can industry reasonably be expected to achieve with current technologies without going broke? And what he's likely to find is that the power companies can afford bigger reductions on a quicker timetable.
First, industry really can't achieve greater reductions because the technology simply doesn't exist. While its true some plants can achieve a 90% reduction of mercury emissions from the national average chemical and engineering quirks prevent the same reductions from being realized across the industry. The problem is that the boilers at power plant are designed with little tolerance for changes in fuel sources. Before construction begins an analysis of the fuel source (focusing on the specific seam of coal to be used) is undertaken and the boilers are then designed around the heat charecteristics of that coal. To acheive the 90% reductions extra low sulfur coals need to be used ... this is the cleanest of the clean coals and is not only much rarer (one of the lingering Clinton conspiracy theories, that seems to play out, is that designation of the Escalante National Monument in S.E. Utah prevented access to one of the worlds largest supplies of low sulfur coal. Industry, for all intents and purposes, is now dependent for purchase of their low sulfur coal upon the same Asian businesses men who provided the political donations that were the source of much concern during the Clinton Gore years) but much more expensive. It burns at a different temperature than the vast majority of US fired plants and simply cannot be used absent the construction of new boilers.

That of course leads to the second point. Cost. Sure, the power industry can always afford new facilties, especially when those costs are passed directly onto consumers. It seems to me the better question here is what can the American public and economy afford. I think we will see that costs in excess of 19 billion a year are too much.
The same message applies to the other proposal on Mr. Leavitt's desk, a rule aimed at major reductions in sulfur dioxide, a component of acid rain, and nitrogen oxides, which contribute to both smog and acid rain. This is a generally good proposal. The Adirondack Council says that the reductions the plan calls for a "70 percent drops for each pollutant by 2015" will end the scourge of acid rain in the Adirondacks.

This would be a huge achievement, but here again the cuts could be faster and deeper.
Again, this begs the question, how much can the American public afford. If it was as easy as the Times claim, don't you think President Clinton and his environmental pal Al Gore would have proposed anything close to it? Nope! The truth is that the Interstate Air Quality Rule is the most ambitious clean air proposal EVER proposed and calls for far greater reductions than even the original Clean Air Act.

Bush's legacy ought to be one of making the hard calls and realizing great environmental improvements. NRDC has already admitted that the diesel sulfur rule is the most important air program since lead was removed from gasoline and catalytic converters placed on auto exhaust systems. However, the Doomsday Scare Environmental Fund Raising Industry can't afford to tell the truth because that just might cut into their multi billion dollars a year profits. Rather, like the executives of Enron they continue to spin a web of lies, deceit, and half truths, all in the name of tricking more and more dollars out of the average American consumer.

Monday Song Lyric

Next to Caruso, Luciano Pavarotti is often considered one of the greatest tenors in opera. So, even with his well known faults (he is lazy, arrogant, a glutton, and rumored to be unable to read music) his impending retirement is big news in music circles. In honor of that retirement (set to come on his birthday, October 12, 2005) he has embarked on one last world tour, visiting the opera houses of the world that love him best. This month, he paid a found farewell to New York City's Metropolitan Opera where he revised the role of doomed painter Mario Cavaradossi, the hero of "Tosca.'

I've long thought Tosca to be Giacomo Puccini's masterpiece (though Turandot gives it a run for the money). Since its premier in January of 1900 at Rome's Teatro Costanzi Tosca has become one of the most treasured opera's, entertaining audiences again and again with its story of love, intrigue, revenge, murder and revolution. The opera centers around the jealous love between the painter Mario Cavaradossi and Tosca, the famous opera singer. When Tosca overhears Cavaradossi's discussions with Angelotti, a a long lost friend who, because of his revolutionary political ideals is in hiding, she becomes convinced that Cavaradossi is having an affair behind her back. Soon, Angelotti must run and hide once again, and in the process Cavaradossi encounters his long time foe, and rival for Tosca's love, Scarpia. Scarpia, sensing the opportunity, further feeds the flames of jealousy between Cavaradossi and Tosca. Eventually, Scarpia has Cavaradossi arrested for hiding Angelotti and soon schedules his execution, offering Cavaradossi life in exchange for Tosca becoming his lover. She agrees, Scarpia promises a staged execution with rifles firing blanks, and once Scarpia tries to embrace Tosca she stabs him with a knife, killing him. The Third Act opens at dawn on the day of the execution with Cavaradossi final thoughts for Tosca (E lucevan le stelle). Soon they reconnect and she tell Cavaradossi that the execution will be staged with the riflemen firing blanks. However, once the riflemen arrive they shoot with live rounds and Scarpia's double dealing is revealed to Tosca who soon runs from police investigating Scarpia's death to the highest platform of the castle where she challenges Scarpia in the afterlife.

In honor of this great opera, and Pavarotti's retirement, today's Song Lyric is that recollection of Tosca by Cavaradossi, one of opera's most famous arias.
Tosca
E lucevan le stelle ed olezza
By Giacomo Puccini


Italian

E lucevan le stelle ed olezzava
la terra, stridea l'uscio
dell'orto, e un passo sfiorava la rena...
Entrava ella, fragrante,
mi cadea fra le braccia...

Oh, dolci baci, o languide carezze,
mentr'io fremente
le belle forme disciogliea dai veli!
Svani per sempre il sogno mio d'amore...
L'ora e fuggita...
E muoio dispertao!
E non ho amato mai tanto la vita!

english translation
And the stars shoned and the earth was perfumed.
The gate to the garden creaked
and a footstep rustled the sand to the path...
Frangrant. she entered
and fell into my arms...

Oh soft kisses, oh sweet abandon,
as I trembling
unloosed her veils and disclosed her beauty.
Oh vanished forever is that dream of love,
fled is that hour,
and desperately I die.
And never before I have loved so much!

Saturday, March 27, 2004

John "Goon Squad" Kerry

Its pretty early in the election season, but already the Democrats are resorting to their usual tactics. Looks like John Kerry and his union friends called the goon squad out on
Matt Margolis
at a recent Bush Event in Boston. Matt suggests you donate $104 to the campaign, I second that.

Friday, March 26, 2004

a la Carte Cable

Is al la Carte Cable in the future?
"When I go to the grocery store to buy a quart of milk, I don't have to buy a package of celery and a bunch of broccoli," McCain said in an interview on Wednesday. "I don't like broccoli." He argues that it's not an either-or situation for cable companies: They could continue to offer packages for consumers who wanted them and a la carte for other viewers.

In the interview, McCain said he probably would propose an amendment this year -- it could be attached to an authorization or spending bill, he said -- requiring cable companies to offer a la carte programming.

Hmm, I sure hope so. If it is, we may all have Janet Jackson to thank.
The industry is also under attack from people upset about content they consider indecent. Government decency rules and fines apply only to channels broadcast over the public airwaves, not to cable and satellite television, because courts have reasoned that subscribers elected to receive them. But McCain, FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps and others have proposed extending the FCC's enforcement powers to cable channels because the industry does not give consumers enough options to drop individual channels they find objectionable.

The cable industry opposes the move. As an alternative, the cable industry's major trade group, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, said earlier this week that the nation's cable companies would give consumers -- at no cost -- the equipment needed to block unwanted cable channels in their homes.

. . . . . .

Lautenberg applauded the cable industry's decision to pass out free channel-blocking hardware, but said that's not enough.

"The logical next step," Lautenberg said, "is to relieve consumers of the burden of paying for channels they don't watch."


We can only hope. I pay close to $80 a month for a load of crap on Cox Cable. All I really want is the four networks, the weather channel, foxnews and discovery (so I can watch Orange County Choppers). I probably would also keep AMC and the other free classic movie channel (Turner Classic?) but could care less about MTV and VH1 and Lifetime and Oxygen and CNN and MSNBC, etc. etc. etc. Unfortunately, in order to get Fox News I need to buy one of the premium packages, subjecting me to ridiculous charges. Its just not available a la carte (is this part of the great left wing conspiracy???)

Now, its true that I generally despise government regulation in all forms.
"It's far too presumptuous to tell an industry how to market its product," said Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), another committee member.
However, the cable universe is different. For one, in most areas cable operators still maintain a monopoly. I have to get Cox. I can't get Time Warner cable. I can't get Jones. I can't get anything else. I tried both DirectTV and the Dish Network. Neither will work in my neighborhood (no clear path to the satellite through trees my wife won't cut down). So I am left with a monopoly that subjects me to outrageous pricing and forces me to subsidize channels I neither approve of politically or have any desire to watch. As far as I am concerned, Congress needs to break them up further.

How Much Are You Worth

The New York Times has an interesting article in the Sunday Magazine on the value of life.

Its something that has been at the forefront of regulatory reform here in DC for a number of years and is vital to the proper completion of a cost benefit study. The Times Article isn't perfect, but its got enough information to give you a general sense of whats involved.

It quickly mentions the difference in regulatory value between senior citizens and the working young. This was the source, and continues to be the source, of some heated political discourse here in DC.

Anyway, its worth a quick read. I'm going to post more on it on Monday.

One Nation Under WHO?

John Tant, in his usual eloquence, is offended by the offended.
I find it offensive that a tiny minority wants to change it. I find it offensive that a few people want to change something that's stood for a fair number of years and is a part of our national tradition. Why is someone else's offense placed over my own? And where's the constitutional guarantee against being offended anyway?

Well put.

International Asian Art Fair

We are going to miss it this year, but if your in Manhattan I highly recommend a visit to the Asia Week events and especially the International Asian Art Fair at the Seventh Regiment Armory.

Its always been one of my favorite art happenings.

A Sensible Post, For A Change

No, thats not a comment on the quality of my blog postings. It refers to today's Oil for Fraud? editorial in the Washington Post. Its about time that this long discredited paper actually print an editorial that approximates the truth.
In recent congressional testimony, the General Accounting Office said it has evidence that the government of Saddam Hussein also profited from the program, through the imposition of "surcharges" on suppliers. Several months ago, an Iraqi newspaper also claimed it had documents proving that oil money had found its way to others. Among them, the newspaper alleged, were French and Russian politicians and parties; a pro-Hussein member of the British Parliament, George Galloway; the PLO; and, most damagingly, Benon Sevan, director of the oil-for-food program. Finally, Cotecna, the company chosen by the United Nations to inspect goods being imported into Iraq, had not only been previously implicated in bribery scandals, it was also the former employer of Kojo Annan, the son of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.
The Post's editorial gets better.
Mr. Annan has denied any wrongdoing. Nevertheless, the secretary general, who has openly called for the United Nations to play a larger role in postwar Iraq, had not attempted to investigate the press reports -- allegedly because Security Council members France and Russia were privately blocking him. This week, Mr. Annan has let it be known that he would like to reverse course and launch an "independent" investigation. According to spokesmen, he is scheduled to reveal some of its details today.
And the piece de resistance
Mr. Annan owes it to the Iraqis to make this investigation real and thorough. If the United Nations cannot disprove its critics -- and punish wrongdoers, if any -- it will be harder to trust the organization to manage humanitarian and peacekeeping missions in the future
Sure, I don't think they are hard hitting enough. But lets look at the strides that have been made.

1) They now, albeit reluctantly, seem to acknowledge the credible reasons for the Bush Administration's reluctance to allow any UN role in Iraq.
2) They reveal, in plain detail for their readers, anti qar and liberal left darling George Galloway's utter lack of veracity.
3) They expose France and Russia and the International Community's shocking indifference to the fate of the Iraqi people.
4) They paint liberal left hero Kofi Annan to be the lying, cheating, scoundral he is.

While I undoutably am in favor of much harsher punishment for wrongdoers than the Post, their simple call for punishment of senior UN officials is nevertheless admirable (especially in light of how much it must pain them to state)

Green Flash

At NASA's Astronomy Pic of the Day Page.
It's actually from the 21st ... but whats a few days in cosmic internet time.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Bigger And Better Things

Well, maybe. David Lee Roth, who apparantly will not be part of the Van Halen reunion tour this summer is moving on to bigger and better roles starting with an appearance, along with Frankie Valli on this seasons Sopranos.

Rrrroooooollllllll Tide Rolll

Bama beats 'Scuse 80-71

Roach Attack!!!!!

Roaches, thats what my in-laws call Damn Yankee's who moved to Florida and unable to take the heat, headed to the mountains of North Georgia and Tennessee. Of course, if you didn't know, a Yankee is anyone from up north (A Damn Yankee is someone from up north who won't go back) Supposedly, I get a free pass because I have manners and the right "spirit." Plus I'll eat grits at any meal.

Anyway, as far as I can tell, the latest news fom otherwise reasonable and fiscally prudent Walker County, Georgia must be a sign of an attack since NY and LA style gun lock distribution programs appear to be all the rage and have the dedicated support and resources of otherwise reasonable public safety officers.

Now, I don't have too much of a problem with people who want to use a gun lock to keep their kids from getting hurt. However, I haven't seen a gun lock a 5 year old couldn't defeat so it seems to me the more prudent thing to do is to put your guns in a safe and keep the ammunition in a seperate place (except of course the one holstered on your hip). Regrardless, any time the law enforcement authorities get caught up in this "gun safety" nonsense and waste tax payer money on non issues I get ticked off. Is there an epidemic of kids killing themselves with their parents handguns, like the media would have you believe. Well, this quote about sums it up (and remember, Walker County is the largest in the state of Georgia)
“I think that this is a most important program, and I was tickled to death to be a part of it,” Chickamauga Police Chief Jerry Parrish said. “This is a good way to help protect children. About 10 or 12 years ago there was an accidental shooting here involving a juvenile resulting in a death.”


yep, one death in 10 or 12 years. This is truly an epidemic that requires the full time dedicated effort of our police force in resolving. Meanwhile, guys like Ray Brent Marsh run fraudulent crematoriums 200 yards from Chickamauga and the police don't find out for years.

The Worst Cookie I've Ever Eaten

Is the Alternative Baking Company's Peanut Butter Persuasion. It is an absolute abomination. Foul. Its should be cast off with the doo doo in my son's diaper genie.

This cookie is so F'ing disgusting, I took one bite and kept chewing and chewing and chewing. I couldn't bring myself to swallow it and then ungraciously decided to spit it out into the trash receptacle on on the corner of 18th and I Street, N.W. here in DC (above Farragut West Metro). So, then, whats the deal? Here's the deal. Its a fricken Vegan Cookie. If you look on the back, it says so in small print in the middle of a long paragraph describing how good it is and why its the best cookie on the planet. No dairy, no eggs, no honey, no refined sugars amongst other much needed ingrediants.

Of course, if I saw it was made by the Alternative Baking Company I would have looked more closely (or just turned away in disgust). Rather, the top of the package just has a funky picture of some guy and says its the Peanut Butter Persuasion Cookie. The Box it was in had no indication of its surprise either. It was simply labeled ABC Cookies.

Yuck.

End result, La Prima gets my $1.99 plus tax for the friken cookie and loses a customer.

I'm so disgusted I'm going next door for a cheese burger! Hopefully made with some Sea Beef

More Mercury

Bob Ferguson just published a great white paper debunking environmentalist claims about the health impacts of mercury.

This whole debate is fraudulent political theater. Bill Clinton and Carol Browner had 8 years to do something, but didn't act until 36 hours of Al Gore lost . . . and at that point they made a finding that contradicted EPAs and the Federal Government's own studies finding that there is no risk of harm from mercury ingested through the consumption of fish. Zip, Zero, Nada. Not at the levels of consumption that American's consume fish.

But wait, you say, what about the much publicized health advisory? Pure hogwash. EPA's reference does is 5 times more stringent than the World Health Organization's recommend consumption rate and over twice as stringent as what the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at CDC rates the risk.

Look for a much more complete analysis of this matter, including a detailed description of why the Clean Air Act does not allow EPA to regulate power plants in the manner the enviros are demanding, after my comments are officially submitted to EPA later next month (I don't want to give the other side a heads up, ya'll understand that, right?)

Gun Fighting

If your itching for a gun fight, just remember to bring a real gun. Otherwise, even those without guns will be able to smash your head in.

I'm gonna add J.R. Coy to my running list of men amongst men. Even though he would have provided a better service to society by packing heat and permanalty taking care of this guy when he first presented the threat, I appreciate his initative and refusal to back down. I also like the idea of hitting a goblin multiple times with a sledgehammer.

9/11 Hearings

Well, there isn't really a whole lot I can add to the issue. As usual, Peggy Noonan outclasses all other commentators with her thoughtful and serious piece on the hearings today. Peggy clearly understands the importance of the issues and avoids engaging in harsh attacks. She doesn't think the hearings were the right thing to do at this point, but appreciates the respect exhibited by each of the witnesses to their close knit fraternity. As Stuart Benjamin points out, the witnesses all know facts, and were shaped by knowledge, that cannot be disclosed for security reasons and is not possessed by the vast vast majority of commentators. Peggy too seems to understand this and avoids laying blame for specific actions based upon specific intelligence. Everyone has a reason for their actions and the rest of us will never (and can never) know all that went into their decision.

However, if overall blame must be placed, Peggy reserves it for Bill Clinton for creating an atmosphere where long term serious risks were not examined and the focus was on the immediate gratification of sugar coated pet issues. But his fault goes beyond this and reallylies in his lack of moral compass and failure to take risks and do the right thing, polls be dammed, ie: exhibit real leadership
It was a failure of imagination, a failure to envision that a terrible thing could happen, that a particular terrorist group meant to do what it said it would do. There was a sunny and empty-headed assumption that America would stay lucky; after all, we'd been lucky since terrorists hit the World Trade Center in 1993, and that wasn't so bad--just a handful killed. It was a failure to take our enemies seriously. All of us each day have so much we want to do, but the terrorists each day wanted to do one thing: get America. That was an advantage. There was a pass-the-buck mentality that prevails in government, with everyone quick to go on record warning of a threat and then letting the warning itself act as a replacement for action.

And to make it all worse we had, from 1993 to 2001, an essentially unserious president who had no clue what to do with the power he had accrued, or even the popularity, and who squandered both in a need for personal drama and trauma. He had eight solid years to move, but he did not do the hard things he had to do. He left it for the next guy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Tarazet

Alphecca's new blog Tarazet is up and running ... sort of. Looking forward to many tales of political intrgiue involving cats and dogs living in somewhat discordant harmony.

I am still trying to figure out some of the software changes I want to implement here. When its all done though, I'll let you know.

Yet Some More Anti Cleveland Bias

Eugene Volokh asks why so few countries use brown or orange on their flags and wonders if they are just "cross culturally ugly or non-patriotism-inducing colors. Hmm, I don't know. I do know the good folks of Cleveland seem to enjoy them just fine. I don't think any one ever accussed Cleveland Brown fans of not being fierce defenders of their team. In fact, from what I understand, the colors are actually an integral part of that bond.

For what its worth, according to this page 4.69% of nations (or 9) have flags with brown in them and 4.69% of nations (or 9) also have flags with orange in them. While certainly not the most popular colors, they are nonetheless fairly well represented, with 18 countries total containing at least one of the colors.

Countries with Orange include India, Ireland and Armenia ... all nations with very patriotic citizens.

While Andorra sports brown on its flag both Mexico and Zambia also include the color and make up for poor Andorra's lack of overt patriotism (poor Andorra is the country my grade school geography teacher insisted did not exist and was simply a flaw on the map - when I corrected him in front of the class he was less than pleased with me).

So you see, I just don't believe the myths about brown and orange. They are used and they are loved colors.

The Face Of Media Bias

Mark Krikorian makes an interesting point in the Corner on the importance of the Bob Edwards Story (Bob, host of NPRs morning news show just lost his job ... the Washington Post ran the story prominently on the front page).
the idea that this story was important enough to put on the front page speaks volumes about the provincialism of the Post's editors. All the people they talk to think it's an important story, but how about the story on the possible grocery strike (on the front of the Business section) or, heck, something from the Sports page. I couldn't care less about sports, any sports, but it's a lot more important to more people (even in Washington) than who's reading a script on public radio.

Sea Beef

I was talking to our Food person today and the subject of healthier and leaner choices of beef came up (she is concerned with obesity lawsuits). I suggested a campaign to increase consumption of Manatees, better known as sea cows. Apparently though, I was too late as it appears Cattle of the Sea has already cornered the market.

Mmm Mmm Mmm. Imagine. The taste of beef with all the benefits of a diet rich in seafood.

Wictory Wednesday

Don't Get Mad. Get Even!

You Too Can Stop John Kerry.

Today is Wictory Wednesday. Every Wednesday from now till election day, I will ask my readers to volunteer and/or donate to the Bush campaign if they haven't done so already. And if you have volunteered and donated, then get a friend to join you. It's the only way to defeat the lying liberal media and their special interest pandering whores in Congress and in the Kerry Campaign.

If you're a blogger, you can join Wictory Wednesday simply by putting up a post like this every Wednesday, asking your readers to volunteer and/or donate to the president's re-election campaign.



Tuesday, March 23, 2004

John "Fat Cat Friend" Kerry

According to this Fundrace Index John Kerry, on average, gets the largest contributions from the wealthiest americans. Man of the people, my ass. Bush, on the other hand comes in number 2 behind Howard Dean on recieving small contributions from all over America. Kerry, for what its worth comes in number 5 on that list, behind Wes Clark but in front of John Edwards (who's bank account consisted almost solely of $2k contributions from lawyers)

Marvelous Myths

I haven't spoken to my friend Sallie Baliunas in some time, but was thrilled to read her piece on Marvelous Myths and the attempts to describe some allegorical anti industrial importance to the Lord of the Rings over at Tech Central Station. With the Climate Change debate certain to heat up in the coming weeks (John McCain is planning his latest campaign in conjunction with the release of a new science fiction movie on a climate change induced holocaust) I am sure I will get a chance to discuss this with her.

Powell on al Qaeda

After Madeleine "Malpractice" ALbright testified that the Clinton Administration did all it could against al Qaeda, Colin Powell gave his thoughts on the subject.
"We wanted to move beyond the roll-back policy of containment, criminal prosecution and limited retaliation for specific terrorist attacks. We wanted to destroy al Qaeda," Powell said.
I think that pretty much settles it right there. Powell has drawn a clear line in the sand between the harmful policies of Clinton and Albright and the intent of the young Bush Administration.

Tax Refund Time of the Year

Glenn Reynolds has an excellent post about spending his tax refund. He is also posting how his readers intend to spend theirs. It makes for a fairly interesting peek inside the average American household, though I want to point out some things.

First, he indicates that he is lucky to live in a place where housing costs are low. Yes indeed. Living in McLean, VA I have watched the value of our house double in the last five years, but along with what has been a spectacular increase in my net worth on paper, I can barely afford to provide for my family day in and day out. On my salary anywhere else in the nation (well, not in New York or LA or SF or Chicago or Boston) we would be living high on the hog. Here in DC, we just get by and can just barely afford the luxury of my wife raising out children. The high salaries and high housing prices have effected all other aspects of the local economy resulting in tremendous increases in prices for all goods. Heck, even a big mac costs close to $5 at the local Mickey Ds. Its one of the reasons the wife and I have been looking into moving somewhere south and rural (escaping from the metrosexual liberals is the other reason). That said, even with my salary, having a stay at home mom and children quickly brings the per capita income for our modest family into the range reader Jeff Redman talks about (well, I am slightly higher, but not by much). Yet, contrary to Redmans assertion, we are going to receive a healthy refund this year (helped, admittedly, in part by expenses related to my job change and other professional expenses).

Second, I am heartened that along with mass consumer spending, most of the commentators seem intent on saving the money as well (I always consider paying down high interest loans (like credit cards) a form of saving, as long as the individual doesn't turn around and build the debt back up. Paying off student loans also counts).

That leads me to my third comment. April 15 is not only tax day, it is also Buy A Gun (BAG) Day (I like to add, to Piss Off Chuck Schumer, but that's just me). Since my son's birthday falls only a few days before (and he's only 2 so he won't mind the wait) I think his gift will come from this catalogue, and be a few days late.

Bush's Fear

Andrew Sullivan talks about something that I've long worried about - The Churchill Paradox. It befell his father (in part) and the early capture of Osama will certainly remove the overriding reason to keep him in office over anyone the Democrats might nominate.

Is it enough for them to delay Osama's capture (or to withhold information on it if he was captured)? I do not know, and I certainly don't think it was the agenda when we responded in Afghanastahn or Iraq, however at this late stage of the game . . .

So who IS this Clarke person?!?

The-Crease has a great one -two punch today. First they lay out all thats wrong with Kerry's spending (see my previous post) and then John Tant comes right back with a fisking of Clark!

You find them in every organization, although how easy it is depends on the size of the organization. You know the type. They are the obnoxious people who think they are smarter than everyone else, that they know all and see all and are the only ones that truly understand what's going on. They are the ones that think the boss is a moron and they could run the company better than he can. They are the ones that come up with the most inane ideas, but should one happen to work by blind luck, they laud themselves as a genius.


Read the whole thing!

How much will John Kerry cost America?

At least $1,699,282,000,000

The Crease has an incredibly complete breakdown of the numbers.

However, there are two VERY EXPENSIVE items that are missing from the list.

First, the cost of ratifying the Kyoto Treaty on Climate Change or otherwise enacting some climate change regime here at home - A good analysis of the cost is here. The official estimate of $450 billion a year was made by the Energy Information Administration, an independent arm of the Department of Energy and is the reason why Clinton was never able to get any senator to ratify Kyoto.

The list also doesn't include the cost of implementing the MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology "including prohibitions on such emissions") standard on mercury emissions from power plants that the enviros are attacking Bush about. The cost there is at least 19.3 billion a year.

Together that adds another $469.3 billion a year to the cost of a Kerry Presidency for a grand total of

$2,168,582,000,000

Monday, March 22, 2004

Who Are The Real Nazis

The left, while calling for the destruction of Israel and constantly celebrating whatever tragedy befalls the Jewish people, loves to call the Bush Administration America's Nazi Party.

Perhaps they should look in the mirror instead.

PETA, for their part, is doing what it can to desensitize and trivialitize the horrors of the Holocaust through their new Holocaust On Your Plate campaign.

Racist Environmentalist

Seems the Sierra Club, long ago hijacked by crazy looney left wing democrats, is is veying to replace Pat Buchanan as mouthpiece for the forces of hate aligned against poor imigrants.

Actually, considering the elitist history of the Sierra Club, and the Democratic Party's long (and long hidden) history as the Party of the Klan, Cross Burnings, Lynchings and Outright Racism, this shouldn't be too surprising. Still, its amazing how much the Sierra Club has deteriorated in the 15 years since it decided to forgoe its non partisan roots and become simply a mouthpiece for the Democratic Party.

Monday Song Lyric

In light of Buckethead's departure, I was going to focus on a Guns and Roses song today. Instead, after reading (and blogging about) Douglas Wolk's Slate piece on Fleetwood Mac I thought I would remind him again why the late 60s band was so much more important than the california sunshine easy listening cheese mac of Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham.

I mentioned this in my earlier post, but here are the lyrics to Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac classic Black Magic Women.
Black Magic Woman
Words and Music by Peter Green


Got a black magic woman
I got a black magic woman
Yes, I got a black magic woman
Got me so blind I can't see
But she's a black magic woman
And she's tryin' to make a devil out of me

Don't turn your back on me baby
Don't turn your back on me baby
Yes, don't turn your back on me baby
You're messin' around with your tricks
Don't turn your back on me baby
'Cause you might just break up my magic stick

break:

You got your spell on me baby
You got your spell on me baby
Yes, you got your spell on me baby
You're turning my heart into stone
I need you so bad, magic woman, I can't leave you alone


Yes, I need you so bad
Well, I need you darling
Yeah, I need you darling
Yes, I want you love me
I want you love me
Whoa, I want you love me, ah
Whoh, yeah
Oh, whoa, baby
Yes, I need your love
Oh, I need your love so bad
I want you love me

Traiterous Left

Not grumpy enough for a Monday morning? Want to be pissed off? Go read James Lileks observations on the Movement to Reinstall Saddam.

God Help Us If Kerry Wins.

Richard Clarke's Legacy of Miscalculation

George Smith takes Richard Clarke to task over the failure of his intelligence and cyber defense careers.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Fleetwood Mac

Douglas Wolk asks the question Why is Fleetwood Mac the least influential great band ever? over at Slate.
Rumours (Warner Bros., 1977) is one of the best-selling records ever, recently certified at 19 million copies and counting in the United States; Fleetwood Mac (Reprise, 1975) and Tusk (Warner Bros., 1979) went multiplatinum, too. "Landslide," "Never Going Back Again," and "Dreams" have been radio staples for decades. And yet almost nobody has tried ripping off Fleetwood Mac's basic sound and style—even unsuccessfully. Dozens of hit records have been derived from Led Zeppelin and Shania Twain and Michael Jackson; the only Fleetwood Mac pastiche that comes to mind is the Magnetic Fields' 1999 joke "No One Will Ever Love You." Bonnie Tyler and Courtney Love have tried to evoke the white-winged-dove essence of singer Stevie Nicks—but Stevie Nicks is not the same thing as Fleetwood Mac.
While I agree with Wolk that no one is ever going to try to mimic the sorry lot that were the mid 70s easy listening muzak Fleetwood Crap, I think he is simply wrong to charecterize them as the least influential great band.
While I am glad to see he acknowledges their rich, pre mid 70s cheeseball music past, his appreciation for it is questionable.
They'd started out as a straight-up British blues-revival band, a sort of cut-rate Cream. (The band's first single, back in 1967, was "I Believe My Time Ain't Long," a verbatim rip-off of Elmore James' "Dust My Broom.") Over the next eight years, they drifted into psychedelia, had a huge U.K. hit with an instrumental called "Albatross," lost their first three singer-guitarists, respectively, to burnout, madness, and a cult, gained singer-keyboardist Christine Perfect (subsequently McVie), and burned through a few more frontmen.
Cut rate Cream? Rip Offs?? Come on, what is this guy smoking ... or snorting? This description completly misses the importance of the early Fleetwood Mac and why the 70s easy snoozing version pales in comparison.

That original Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac is perhaps the most influential rock band outside of the Beatles. Without the smackdown Peter Green gave all his fellow mid 60s guitar peers rock and roll would not exist as we know it. BB King said of Peter Green, "He was the only man to ever make me sweat." Not something you hear about cut rate rip offs everyday.

In fact, the connection with Cream hardly strikes one as simply cut rate. Peter Green replaced God, Eric Clapton (also of Cream), in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and filled those shoes with enough grace and confidence to win over skeptical London blues hipsters and earn the title of greatest white blues guitarist ever. He then left to form the blues extravaganza known as Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, at the time the most popular blue based rock act in London (and Europe for that matter) though like many others they never really pushed themselves on the US (and certainly didn't push to sell albums like Clapton and Cream did). In fact, Clapton has relayed in the past an amusing recollection of meeting Peter Green some time after the Bluesbreaker years and telling him he would never be famous and sell alot of records if he didn't alter his appearance. Of coruse, Green was never interested in selling lots of records or being famous and the resulting fame he achieved had a horrid impact on his health and well being.

Who did he inspire?
Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac provided the inspiration and lubrication for Carlos Sanatana's career and his cover of the Peter Green song Black Magic Women made him a star and completly energized the woodstock generation in the states. Jimi Hendrix? Only after arriving in Peter Green's London did he learn how to turn his career on. The Yardbirds and Jimmy Page and Led Zepplin? All they wanted to do was play as heavy and hard as Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac.

Simply stated, All that is hard hitting and heavy blues based rock and roll from 1966 forward is influenced by the original and still the best Fleetwood Mac. And of course, Peter Green taught generations of rockers how to blow it all as well ... through drug abuse, nervous breakdowns, and running off and giving away all your money to weird cults.


Update: A reader emails to say Wham! and George Michael have sold nearly as many records and you would be hard pressed to find anyone citing them as an influence for anything. Good Point!

Richard Clarke

I watched most of the Richard Clarke interview on 60 minutes. It just strikes me as more of the general left wing smear campaign. He blames Bush for not focusing more on his pet issue within the first 200 days of the administration, but has NOTHING bad to say (and actually quite alot of good to say) about how he handled the situation when he worked for Clinton.

Sure, he claims he was also employed by Reagan and Bush I, but that doesn't mean he's not a liberal dem. Remember, Reagan was a Dem too once and back in the days of the Cold War party affiliation didn't matter like it does now ... Reagan was swept to power on the back of the Reagan Dems, so that connection isn't enough to not write Clarke off as a political hack. Plus, it turns out he teaches a class at Harvard with Kerry's top foreign policy advisor.

This guy shouldn't be getting 30 seconds worth of attention, leave it to 60 minutes to once again make something out of nothing. Still, the blame on Clarkes existance ultimatly rests with Bush. He still hasn't weeded out the Clintonistas within the administration. We have seen the horrible damage they continue to do to him on the environment front . . . Bush should have fired each and every one the day he took over. His failure to is going to cause alot more heatache between now and election day as other political hacks like Clarke come out and are spun as Bush insiders turning tale in disgust. watch, it will happen and let it be a lesson to future administrations.

Yellowhammered!!!

What a basketball weekend, with two number 1 teams falling to Yellowhammer State schools. First, he had the Alabama Crimson Tide ROLLLLLLLING over Stanford and today the University of Alabama, Birmingham BLAAAZED Kentucky to reach Sweet 16.

Generally, in all things Bama I say BUCK FAMA ... but with the Vols perenial no shows in the NCAA tourney I'm left rooting for our underdog SEC teams like Bama and Vanderbilt who shocked N.C. State to advance as well.

Good Job SEC! Good Job Alabama . . .

Ya know, the wife's been talking about moving there as well. . .hmmm. . . .

Nuclear Al Quada

So, Osama Bin Asshole is now claiming to have nukes. I guess I'm not surprised ... though I am surprised they haven't used them yet if they reallly have them. Of course, they are probably waiting for just the right moment. They do seem fairly deliberate in their actions.

All of this though begs the ultimate question ... if they have admitted to 9/11 in which airborne planes flew into buildings killing thousands of people, and now talk about having the ultimate weapons of mass destruction ... doesn't that justify our actions in the middle east so far and even more so, just how foolish does John "DYKWIA" Kerry feel after this exchange at the South Carolina debate
BROKAW:Senator Kerry, let me ask you a question. Robert Kagan, who writes about these issues a great deal from the Carnegie Institute for Peace, has written recently that Europeans believe that the Bush administration has exaggerated the threat of terrorism, and the Bush administration believes that the Europeans simply don't get it.

Who is right?

KERRY: I think it's somewhere in between. I think that there has been an exaggeration and there has been a refocusing...

BROKAW: Where has the exaggeration been in the threat on terrorism?

KERRY: Well, 45 minutes deployment of weapons of mass destruction, number one.

Aerial vehicles to be able to deliver materials of mass destruction, number two.

I mean, I -- nuclear weapons, number three.

I could run a long list of clear misleading, clear exaggeration. The linkage to Al Qaida, number four.

I Hate DC

Actually, I hate the people here in Northern Virginia. McLean in particular. While the wife and I love to eat at McLean Family Restaurant and go there too much, I have a tough time stomaching the average self important, full of themselves, northern virginian. The average one is bad enough, but here in McLean they tend to be rich beyond your wildest dreams which makes them even more annoying. The wives really send me up a wall and its got the wife and I looking for better places to raise our son. Anyway, after being subjected to the whench next to us at breakfast today, a move to New Hampshire as part of the Free State Project seems quite alright although in reality, we will probably move somewhere warmer, like Georgia ... the coast near Savanaha really excites me.

Takings: The Evils of Eminent Domain

The Future of Freedom Foundation has posted Sheldon Richman's Takings: The Evils of Eminent Domain online. I highly recommend it for anyone fighting excessive government action.

Buckethead Quits

Guns And Roses guitarist Buckethead is quitting the band after 4 years.

He's going to pursue his solo career (what career?). According to the Rolling Stone article, he was tired of delays and doing nothing over the last four years.

Well, I can understand that, and aside from 2 or 3 concert appearances in 4 years, I don't know what the band has done. I guess Axl Rose made so much money early on that he can hire these guys and pay them and then not do anything.

The rich are clearly different.

Buckethead, for his part, at least shows some sense of motivation and a desire to advance his career. Actually, he is a pretty good guitarist and was quite popular on the weird jam band heavy metal club circuit before joining GnR. He often plays with the Primus people. Hmmmm...maybe thats a good song lyric direction. . . .

Identity Hounds - Theft and Libel

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has an interesting article on internet identity tracking. They touch on the usual subjects, identity theft, increased risk of violent crimes from the data being freely available, etc. However, what struck me as most alarming was the on at least one companies report they list things such as sexual practices. For the guy the article was about, this company gave him a score of 73 and stated he had a "tendency to cheat." Of course, they guy was married for 18 years and while he claims never to have cheated, the reporting agency refuses to disclose how they created that profile.

This doesn't really surprise me, as the greatest use of this type of information is probably to assist private eye detectives in divorce proceedings. If you can come back with a reported "tendency to cheat" you creat more work for the private eye, who in turn uses you more.

Crunchy Conservatives

Sara Hempel directed me to this great Rod Dreher piece on Crunchy Conservatives. It accurately describes much of what my wife and I like (though she is more partial to AC/DC and Lynyd Skynyrd than to the jazz and bluegrass I listen to on public radio). Its sort of in line with my previous writings on the topic here and here.

The Oval Room

Sandefur flew from Sacremento to D.C. for the choclate bread pudding at the Oval Room. Hmm, its right across the street from me but I've never eating there. I did take a client to the Equinox the other day though. Rockfish on Pollenta. Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm. And its right next to the Oval Room.

Educational Quagmire

Is the tide finally turning?

At least one paper knows where to lay the blame for suppresing conservative speach - right at school officials who prevented an anti gay speaker from making a presentation at a diversity forum. The school has been ordered to pay the students legal fees. Good. The Detroit Free Press sums it up nicely
The high school soft-pedaled its actions, arguing that it was interested only in exerting some control over the content of the discussion. The school's lawyer also said officials wanted to present a positive message and encourage tolerance.

Encourage tolerance?

You don't do that by suppressing viewpoints, even if those viewpoints themselves are intolerant. Choosing what viewpoints are acceptable, even with the best of intentions, defeats the purpose of an informational forum.

Schools should know better. Muzzling a viewpoint provides a bad civics lesson for students.

In this case, it provided a costly lesson for the school as well.

Those crazy Brits

It seems that a British Lesbian sold her virginity to pay for college.

Um...I always thought educational loan officers were a lot like pimps . . .this just further confirms that feeling.

Aren't we at 16 minutes yet?

Turns out that even horses don't like loud mouthed obnoxious worthless sluts like Paris Hilton. And this is newsworthy because?????

Local Blog Flavor

Something new I was thinking about adding to the page is a link to local blogs that best express all the flavors of Washington, D.C. Of course, on my blogroll I have the In My Neighborhood section where I link to the D.C. Metro Blog Map. They are both great resources (especially the blog map) but what I really want to do is take some time to point out local blogs that give a feel for D.C. to people that aren't necessarily from here or even have been here. And if they have, most people don't leave the well guarded federally controlled downtown area and miss lots of what makes the place unique. In that reqard, I am going to start with NOvaSlim. His topics aren't really my cup of tea, but froma design stanpoint, I find his blog well put together and something I hope to emulate when the overhaul finally goes up.

Beyond the visual sight though, Nova slim also fits represents another flavor - his is the only blog I could find thats from the heart of DC - anacostia. Well, its not really from there, in fact, i think he is from maryland, however, his metro stop = Southern Ave - is the closest I could get to Anacostia - the long neglected South Eastern part of DC - home to gangs, guns, drugs, and abject poverty and a place that Teddy Kennedy didn't want to fix the schools.

Check Nova slim out ... and check out some of his blog friends. It'll give you a great clue into what else is going down in DC outside of the federalais.

Hired Guns In Iraq

Esquire has a great article on civilian security contractors in Iraq. I used to represent some of these guys over here. They are as bad ass as this article makes them out to be.

My client at the time had the contract to provide construction security services for U.S. Embassies. Essentially, while the Marines guarded the base proper, my clients employees would guard any construction sites at the embassy as well as inspect and secure all building materials (and review building plans) It was pretty specialized work and historically required lots of super special secret security clearances. My client was a former marine special forces type . . . as were all his employees. He also had a number of former SeaBees and Army Corps engineer types on his staff.

Anyway, near the end of the Clinton Administration Madeline Albright designated a new contracting officer for this division and this guy (an african american fellow) decided that when the contract was renewed he would give it to someone with no security clearance or security experience (outside of providing rent a cop security for a local shopping center). In fact, he awarded it to a company that up to that point had provided janitorial and lunch room services for schools. His sole basis was that they were a minority contractor (and he assumed an air of moral racial superiority over my otherwise pigment challenged client). Of course, he was also good friends with the owner.

We challenged the award, had it thrown out, and then the same guy (with the permission of Albrights office) decided to change the contract requirements so that possession of security clearances were not required and the minimum experience factor dropped from 5-10 years to 1 year for non supervisory positions. We again challenged them, but lost in the court of federal claims based solely on the State Department wrapping itself in the American flag. The courts opinion was clearly wrong, but by that time, the client wasn't really interested in this contact anymore and had better things to pursue with his time, so we never properly appealed it.

Oh well, it would have been fun. To the best of my knowledge, btw, Heritage Services still has the construction security contract (though it should be coming up for renewal in a year or two).

Update: Someone asked why I mentioned the contracting officer was african american. Good point. I mentioned it because he decided to make the contract a minority set aside contract, a line I originally left out of the post. Nothing else was to be inferred from it. I've actually updated and corrected the error in this post. Unlike the New York Times I actually encourage commentary and am willing to correct my mistakes.

Good Ol' Fairfax County

Seems that the liberal twits who run Fairfax County have know decreed that the founding fathers were pure from sexual distraction.

Ummm, yeah . . . and its just a coincidence that the Father of the Nation George Washington seems to have slept in every historic home from here to Boston ...

And its not like this is even stuff thats gonna make Michael Powell ban it from the airwaves ... what the liberal twits on the Fairfax School Board are upset about is this exchange in the movie 1776.
Jefferson is balking at staying in Philadelphia to write the declaration and protests to Adams: "I've not seen my wife in six months."

Adams responds, "You write 10 times better than any man in Congress, including me. For a man of only 33 years, you possess a happy talent for composition and a remarkable felicity of expression. Now, will you be a patriot . . . or a lover?"

Jefferson, clearly preferring the latter, says he "burns" for his wife, at home in Virginia.
Ye Gads

Saturday, March 20, 2004

I hate the washington post

Its bad enough that the most blatantly racist paper in the world is only capable of half assed journalism, but this new F'ing registration crap simply blows. I HATE THE WASHINGTON POST.

Register, Register, Register and still I have trouble reading the F'ing articles (which I need to for work)

Crap!

Friday, March 19, 2004

Alex Kozinski

I'm working on a presentation I need to make next week on what weight of evidence means to federal regulators in deciding what they areas they will expand their authority into.

While doing some research, I ran into what is surely one of the coolest sites I've seen on the internet . . .The Unofficial Judge Alex Kozinski Site

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Three Card Monty

Three Card Monty is the game scamsters used to play on the street corners of Times Square - you know the one, where they show you three cards and mix them up. You pick one and have to find it. Well, sometimes instead of cards, they would use a coconut shell with some trinket under it (a rock or something) It seems Shell Oil was caught again hiding the goods - or in this case, claiming something was there when it wasn't. As I said yesterday, this is going to turn out to be as big, if not bigger, then Worldcom, Healthsouth, ImClone/Marth Stewart when its all over. Might even surpass Enron - especially if the administration ... come October ... is looking for an easy and painless way to stick it to oil companies and prove that they aren't in the petro industries back pocket.

If I was an executive at Shell, I would be protecting my assests and looking for a lawyer ... a good lawyer, not one of the big firm fools who charges alot but never gets anything done ... they need serious criminal defense attorneys.

The UN's Crime Against Humanity

The Wall Street Journal has a great Editorial on the Oil For Food Scandal at the U.N. It will be interesting to see what becomes of Henry Hydes investigation. I, though, am still convinced that everyone caught up in it (including lead crook Kofi Annan) ought to be arested by the U.S. military and given over to the Iraqi people to be tried for crimes against humanity along with Saddam and his local cronies.

Hopefully, this will spell the end of the farce that is the U.N.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Back In The Day . . .

they would hang you (if they didn't shoot you) for stealing someones cattle. In the new, progressively more wussy United States, we just call it an acceptable federal response to a grazing dispute centered on whether the federal government has yet again illegally taken someones grazing rights.
Authorities began rounding up some 400 cattle from Laney's 146,000-acre Diamond Bar Ranch last week after a judge found the rancher and his ex-wife, Sherry, in contempt of court for grazing cattle in the Gila National Forest in violation of earlier court rulings. . . . .

While many ranchers in the West lease federal land for grazing and other uses, the Laneys, who bought the ranch in 1985, do not hold a lease for the Gila land. They contend they have grazing rights based on historical use of the land predating the forest's creation in 1964.


Thank god there are still men out there willing to stand up for whats right and protect whats theirs.
It took four officers to wrestle a kicking Kit Laney, 43, to the ground Sunday night, according to a federal criminal complaint released Monday. . . .

Laney yelled profanities while charging his horse toward three Forest Service officers who were guarding an enclosure holding some of Laney's seized cattle.

The complaint said one of the officers injured his knee and shin when he was knocked off his feet.

Laney then taunted the officers and tried to remove fencing the government is using to temporarily hold his cattle, the complaint said.

"Whenever the officers approached Laney, he guided his horse in their direction, threatening to ram or trample them," according to the complaint.

Laney was also accused of using his leather reins to thrash one of the workers conducting the roundup. . . .

After Laney dismounted, one officer used pepper spray but Laney, wearing spurs on his boots, started kicking, the complaint said. Four officers finally subdued him on the ground.
Kit, if I was still practicing, I'd love to represent you. In the meantime, if you ever come to D.C. the beers on me.