Saturday, July 29, 2006

An Immodest Proposal

Forty-five years ago this past May a young man from Massachusetts stood before a joint gathering of the House and Senate and challenged America to go to the moon. The timing was crucial. The Soviets had placed the first human being in orbit in January and the United States had countered with the sub-orbital flight of Alan Shepard just a few weeks prior to the President’s speech. Now it is time to take longer strides,” Kennedy said, “time for a great new American enterprise--time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth.”

Kennedy didn’t just tell Congress that an American astronaut will go to the moon, he laid down the gauntlet for every American to pick up.

First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations--explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon--if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.

Kennedy’s confidence in the ability of the Nation to achieve this daunting task was not boastful, but plainly spoken:

I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshalled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment.

Recently I have had occasion to think of President Kennedy’s challenge as I have grappled to understand the troubling path upon which we Americans find ourselves. Tyrants in the Middle East and South America are holding the United States hostage to their oil, while the swiftly rising economies in China and India gobble ever more of the precious stuff. The Wall Street Journal recently featuresd an article about how melting ice packs and glaciers will cause earthquakes as the surface crust rebounds from the sudden loss of pressure. They are now growing strawberries in Greenland. A doctor friend of mine recently dumped his year-old Lexus and bought a Prius, telling me that he “had to do something about global warming for his kids’ sakes,” and this lady fears the heat wave in San Francisco is the beginning of the end. What used to pass for the irrational, it seems, is becoming the commonplace. But something clearly needs doing.

In 1961, Kennedy saw the challenge as space. Today, I see that same sort of challenge here on Earth. I propose that we adopt Kennedy’s model and challenge the Nation to, by 2016, develop the mechanisms and support structure to replace the internal combustion engine. Not only are we up to the challenge, I dare say that we are the only nation capable of meeting it. But to do it will require a truly national effort.

First, we must regrettably halt our space program for the time being. Space isn’t going anywhere. Mars will wait for us while we fix things here on Earth. Instead of building space stations and manned rockets, NASA and it engineers will be turned to developing an alternative energy source to power land based vehicles. Although hydrogen comes first to mind, the wizards at NASA will be given free rein to develop alternative fuels and power plants, much like Kennedy had promised them in 1961.

The goal here is not only to develop an alternative source of power, but to also make it practical and affordable. (General Motors has been working on hydrogen-powered cars, but how much of that crippled giant’s resources can possibly be going towards such efforts?) NASA has exactly the kind of experience and personnel to bring this new technology to fruition. Funding the project will be the savings generated by halting in manned space exploration, and whatever resources this Nation is willing to muster to achieve this extraordinary goal. Once the power source is designed and tested, the technology will be made available to manufacturers world wide. Call it America’s gift to the planet and a finger in the eye of the oil tyrants.

The project encompasses far more than just designing an inexpensive power plant, however. Technologies must be developed to produce the fuel for the vehicles in a manner that does not just shift energy consumption. Currently, most hydrogen is produced by using natural gas, although other methods are being studied. NASA’s experience and bankroll would go far to accelerate these studies.

Of course, there would have to be some serious effort placed in developing the infrastructure to deliver the alternative fuels to market. Currently there is a single hydrogen pump at a Shell station in Washington, D.C. (can you guess why?). But a Nation that built the interstate highway system can surely devise a method to pump hydrogen from production to distribution. Petroleum companies might be given a stake in the production of the fuel thereby generating their interest in supplying the marketplace. Automakers too, must see reward in the development of the technology. I place sufficient trust in capitalism that these things will sort themselves out once it’s known that the change is coming and there is no turning back.

I realize that the challenge I speak of is daunting, but again I am reminded of Kennedy’s words to Rice University in 1962:

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

We must choose to challenge ourselves again. To do great things "which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth. " We must choose to do these things to save both our liberty, and our environment. I believe that we’re up to the task. Someone just has to put it to us.

I'm looking for that someone.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Powers That Be

Friday, July 28th, 2006, is the 7th annual System Administrator Appreciation Day. On this special international day, give your System Administrator something that shows that you truly appreciate their hard work and dedication.

Let's face it, System Administrators get no respect 364 days a year. This is the day that all fellow System Administrators across the globe, will be showered with expensive sports cars and large piles of cash in appreciation of their diligent work. But seriously, we are asking for a nice token gift and some public acknowledgement. It's the least you could do.

Mr. Kanamit, Evil System Adminstrator courtesy of Attaboy.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

How To Impress Girls

Take them out and treat them to a nice dinner. And then commit social suicide. Really.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

To Another Red-Haired Leo On Her Birthday

"You'd find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair," said Anne reproachfully. "People who haven't red hair don't know what trouble is."
-Anne to Marilla in Anne of Green Gables

"While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats."
-Mark Twain

To one who has long provided me with the best reason to give up early, and often, I wish the happiest of special days.

You are without a doubt the biggest pain in the neck that I have ever known. Mostly because you're righter than me.

And I'm altogether better for the experience.

Happy birthday, Red.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

And Thereby Justice Might Be Had

BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 23 — Saddam Hussein was hospitalized this morning, fed with a tube and given a battery of tests to ensure that he could stand trial later this week despite a hunger strike that began July 7, Iraqi and American officials said.

Although it is both my personal passion and my professional commission to see that justice be served, I have little patience for court room antics that purposefully derail the focus of the trial from "issues of fact" to a hunk-pile train wreck of dubious "issues of personality."

In a word, screw Saddam and his diet. If he wants to defend himself against the murderous charges leveled against him, I would suggest that he present evidence of his innocence in open court. There is no requirement that he be kept alive against his wishes simply so that the punch-list of horrors alleged by belatedly righteous nations can be completed with full decorum . Self-induced euthanasia is well accepted in certain western nations, and I see little reason to save even a single breath in the lungs of a man against whom there appears overwhelming evidence that he and his sons and minions committed unspeakable acts of torture, murder, and genocide of thousands of innocents and political detractors. That worthless piece of skin has yet to exhibit even a scintilla of remorse, and yet still blames other nations and creeds for his dispicable deeds. So much for the mercy rule.

You don't want to eat, Saddam? Fine, you miserable *&^%. The torment that awaits you is reflected in the death grin of your victim, above. You can choose to die by your own hand, or await the same penalty to be delivered and carried out by a jury of civilized beings. I could care less how or when you die, because your fate is sealed. You are a dead man, pig, and we're just going through the motions to reassure ourselves that we are better than you. But don't piss me off with pointless courtroom theatrics, because I'll pull the damned feeding tube myself, and then televise on YouTube your last gasping moments before you descend into Hell.

Immoderate as these remarks may be, I wish the world to be washed clean of you and yours. Your decision to spare us your further presence by starving yourself is the only respectable thing that you have ever done.

Don't let my morals stand in your way.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The End of Times

Creator of the Philly Cheesesteak Dies

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Harry Olivieri, who with his brother Pat was credited with inventing the Philly cheesesteak in 1933, had died. He was 90.

Despite a heart condition, Olivieri had showed up at Pat's King of Steaks almost every day until about three years ago. He died of heart failure Thursday at Atlantic City Medical Center in Pomona, N.J., his daughter Maria said.

Harry and his older brother opened a corner hot dog stand near south Philadelphia's Italian Market in 1930.

Three years later, they made the first version of the sandwich that helped put the city on the street food map. Tired of hot dogs, Pat suggested that Harry go to a store and buy some beef. Harry brought it back, sliced it up and grilled it with some onions.

The brothers piled the meat on rolls and were about to dig in when a cab driver arrived for lunch, smelled the meat and onions and demanded one of the sandwiches.

Harry sold the cabbie his own sandwich in a transaction the brothers counted as the birth of
Pat's King of Steaks.

Cheez Whiz was added to the steak and onions starting in the 1960s, and provolone, American cheese and pizza sauce later became options in the concoction along with various condiments and side dishes.

Pat Olivieri died in 1970. Harry's son, Frank, now runs the restaurant.


And thus, America, as so often in this marvelous land, history is made...simply, and by desire.

Thank you, Harry. You gave me more yums than you can imagine.

Rest in peace, with onions.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Perfect Storm: Viagra, Plumbing and Homonym Abuse

The New York Times :
“We used to do his and hers bathrooms, but now couples want to share a bathroom because they’ve found that it’s where they can catch up while getting ready for work or winding down after a long day."

Ah, togetherness.


For thou not farther than my thoughts canst move,
And I am still with them, and they with thee;
Or, if they sleep, thy picture in my sight
Awakes my heart, to heart's and eyes' delight.

Sonnet XLVII

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Divorce, New York Style

Corner of 47th & Broadway. A 12' x 24' black & white billboard that
catches your eye for the simple fact that it has no neon lights,
nor fancy logos, just these words:

Hi Steven:

Do I have your attention now?
I know all about her, you dirty, sneaky,
immoral, unfaithful, poorly-endowed slimeball.
Everything's caught on tape.

Your (soon to be ex-wife),

P.S. I paid for this billboard from OUR joint checking account.

Well, I guess nobody needs to tell her to grow a pair....
Five'll get you ten, this poor schmuck's office is located
across the street from the billboard!

UPDATE: OMG, OMG. It's gets worse. OK, so it turns out the slimeball was cheating on her with her BEST FRIEND (tacky, very tacky) but don't you guys find this "proactive" approach a tad extreme? (A show of hands will suffice) Can she get away with this legally?

(posted by Portia)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

How Hot Is It?

I'll tell you how hot it is. So hot that this afternoon both heels of
my sandals sank into the molten asphalt waiting at the corner
for the light to change. So hot that I saw two fire hydrants fighting
over a dog. So hot that this photo makes me want to unbutton
my blouse that has no buttons. Damn, he's HOT. I mean, damn, it's HOT.
So hot that sometimes wearing nothin' can be a real cool hand.*

Next question.
* Cool Hand Luke

(Posted by Portia)

Dog Days

Today's weather:
Statement as of 3:42 AM EDT on July 18, 2006
... Heat advisory remains in effect from noon today to 7 PM EDTthis evening... The hot and humid airmass will remain in place across the midAtlantic region today. Temperatures are expected to top out in the upper 90s over the advisory area... with a few spots reaching100 degrees. The combination of these hot temperatures along withthe increase in humidity will produce heat indices between 105 to110 degrees during the afternoon and early evening hours.

Hot dog.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Gulliver's Travails

Hi. I'm Francys Sudnicka, Miss Poland 2006.

spd rdr asked me to take time out from my busy posing schedule and stand in for him today. He wants me to broach a subject that has been bothering him for some time, but that he is loathe to discuss openly. After several hours over coffee and chrust he convinced me that as a gorgeous woman it was up to me to bring this story to the attention of Heigh-ho's vast and intelligent readership. So let's get to it.

Unless you get all of your news from the Food Network, you've probably figured out by this time that the reason the U.S. is in Iraq is not about WMD's or oil, and not primarily about democracy, although these objectives are extremely important to the overall mission. If you've looked at a map of the area and allowed yourself to think honestly about the broad strategic objectives that the United States should be pursuing, you've probably have long since stuck a push pin into Iran.

Go ahead, say it out loud. It's all about Iran, and it always has been. Duh.

Nestled between Iraq and a hard place named Afghanistan, Iran is the head of the snake. A proud member of the Axis of Evil, Iran has been giving the world fits since 1979 when the Islamic Revolution ushered in what has slowly become World War III. It's no secret that as long as the mullahs hold sway over the Straits of Hormuz the world's supply of oil is permanently at risk. It's also no secret that an Islamic state flush with cash can threaten U.S. interests both at home and abroad without ever appearing to do so.

Yeah, yeah, it's building a nuclear weapon. So what? Pakistan's got one. India's got one. Israel's got one. How much different will the world be if Iran gets one too? Does anybody really believe that Iran is going to wipe Israel off the map with its first nuke? Nah, Iran's best weapon is oil, and it knows it. So with direct confrontation off the table, the subtlety of international terrorism has long been Iran's state policy.

But terrorism can only be so effective. Sure Iran can funnel money and weapons to "insurgents" in Iraq and Afghanistan to keep the U.S. occupied in an increasingly factionalized struggle. Yep, it can outfit Hamas and Hezbollah with enough rockets and explosives to provoke Israel into finally kicking the dog on the eve of the G8 Summit. But the effects of these destablizing efforts remain regional. There is nothing that Iran can do to reach out across the ocean and strangle the Great Satan. Even if it could smuggle in a nuke and have its proxies detonate it in Times Square, Iran knows that the U.S. would retain its capability to retaliate. And Iran knows that a pissed off America can be a very dangerous thing -particularly when there's a whole bunch of them on either side of you - with guns.

So what is the snake to do? Slither, and strike at the ankle. Here's where it gets interesting (I hope).

Last summer I was housing/entertaining/feeding what felt like several hundred law student friends of daughter #1. I think some of them are still here. Anyway, I got into a discussion with one bright young man who was going for his joint J.D.-M.B.A. at UVA (I said he was bright). We were dicussing what changes the war in Iraq has wrought on the geopolitical landscape and petro-nomics. Not long into the discussion, he brings up the Iranian Oil Bourse. "What the hell is that?" I inquired. "Bourse," he explained, is French for an exchange, like a commodities market exchange. In this case the commodity is oil.

Currently oil contracts are primarily bought and sold on New York's Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and London's International Petroleum Exchange (IPE). No matter where oil is traded, however, it's always done in U.S. dollars. The Iranians were proposing to open their own oil bourse where trading for oil would been done in Euros rather than dollars. In this manner, he explained, the Iraninas could manipulate the exchange rate to weaken the dollar while at the same time insulating themselves from the damage that would be inflicted on the U.S. economy. Our favorite South American Marxist would probably hold hands with the mullahs to exacerbate the problem. The real kicker, he explained, is that the rest of the world would probably join in the fun of kicking the dollar to the curb. And why not? Who stands to gain if America loses? Just about everyone.

Needless to say, I found this bit of news somewhat disturbing, particularly coming from a kid half my age wearing swimming trunks and sporting a tattoo of a bird on his back. How come I'd never heard of this "Iranian Oil Bourse?" I read the Wall Street Journal everyday, along with the New York Times and, occasionally the WAPO. I get U.S. News and World Report every week, and my wife gets Newsweek (which I had cancelled in a fit of pique). I'm was touch with the world, I thought, but this story had somehow eluded me.

A search of the internet didn't turn up much at that time, only that the Iranians had announced that they were planning to open their borse (IOB) in early 2006. But I kept looking for stories on the thing and slowly but surely items began to emerge on the net, and in the most unlikely places. Gradually, the specter of a nuclear Iran seemed less threatening to me than the prospect of an economic world war with Islamofacism.

I am not to go into detail about the possible impact the IOB could have on the U.S., and the world's, economies. You should read some of the articles referenced here and decide for yourself whether or not this thing has got legs. There's plenty to argue about. Some believe that the invasion of Iraq was precipitated by Sadam's sudden switch to oil for euros. Other's believe that war with Iran is inevitable should the IOB open in September (the new target date). If you discount the moonbat Bush hating rhetoric and stick with economics, I'd say the chances are good that something is about to break, and soon.

What bothers me is that you can't find the story anywhere in the main stream media. It's as if someone's put out a gag order. Go ahead, check the archives of the Times, the WSJ and the WAPO. I did. Nothing. I repeat nothing to be found. What the hell is going on here? Even if the threat to the U.S. economy is completely overblown, then why isn't that worth a few lines in a paper of record? Why is this not news?

I'll leave it to you to come up with your own conspiracy theory. In the meantime, watch your back, America. And your ankles.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I've Been Busy...Really

I realize that in the short time I've been Guest Blogging here at Heigh Ho that I've quickly picked up some bad Blogging habits like throwing up pictures of family pets when you can't find two words to string together or forgeting to post altogether because the sun might be shining.

Well, I'm adding another bad habit to the mix: Too busy. Yep. The Guest Blogger who is suppose to help out when the Blog Owner is too busy to post is herself now too busy to post, and the Blog Owner is too busy to even notice that the Guest Blogger is too busy to post. In other words, the back-up needs back-up.

In between staying abreast of the Eugenics movement, and doing the day thing at the office, which lately has become a night thing too, I've been dodging suicidal doctors who want to gas me, dimwitted terrorists who want to turn part of Manhattan into Venice, gossiping with my girlfriends about how butt-ugly Baby Cruise must be for "TomKat" not to let anyone (zip, nada, zilch not even his fellow aliens) see the kid and wondering aloud if there really even is a Baby Cruise, doing whatever I can to stay the hell away from men who haven't yet mastered the art of multitasking, and all the while trying to find time to get pumped for the girl-on-girl Mud nee Jello extravanganza with the Blog Princess that's to be scheduled as soon as hell freezes over, or I spring for someone to paint the mud on my body instead.

We know all this fun can't last forever, so at the first hint of a reprieve, I promise to resume my unscheduled, intermittent and don't count on me pattern of back-up Guest Blogging, which should be just about the time I head off for vacation. Phew!

Until then, I expect thatany week now the Sole Proprietor of this Establishment will crawl out from under the pile of papers he was spotted this morning cooing incoherently to no one in particular about the charms of "Special Legislation." Well, if anyone can make blog-worthy "pillow talk" out of that topic, it's the spd meister, aka Herr Commerze. We await your colorful commentary, mr. rdr.

Barring that, there's always the possibility one of us (gee, who might that be) will live-blog tonight's MidSummer Classic, which rarely ever is (classic) unless of course, both sides run out of pitchers again, at which point, the game would be Classic FUBAR. We await still more of your colorful commentary, mr. rdr.

But hey, no pressure buddy, I'm way too busy to read what you post this week anyway.

For those who can't get enough Film Noir edginesss reading the Daily News, there's a marvelous exhibit Unknown WeeGee, that just opened at the Int'l Center of Photography in NY, showcasing 100 or so of the photographer's works, many that have never been on exhibit before including the hilarious Showgirl Backstage featured above. It runs through August 27.

(Posted by Portia)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Campioni Del Mondo!*


* Sorry spd. Shootout or not, I couldn't let that dreadful picture below be the only image to celebrate Italy's World Cup win.
Bravo, Italia!

Another Sign of the Apocalypse

Just when you think you've finally heard everything, along comes another swift kick in the nads to convince you that the world is mad.

July 9, 2006
F1 Driver Montoya to Drive in NASCAR
Filed at 11:57 a.m. ET

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) -- Juan Pablo Montoya is leaving the elite Formula One series at the end of the season, bringing star power and international appeal to NASCAR.

Great career move, J.P. Here's your new ride.

So long Monte Carlo!

Hello Talladega!

And say goodbye to your F1 pit babes...

...and hello to your new female fans.

Juan Pablo, you are without question the stupidest man alive.

Just remember to profusely thank everyone on the Chip Gannassi Racing No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Team for working so hard to put a great car together for you today.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Today's Lesson

3:48 PM Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY.

The World (current HH readers excepted) could learn a thing or two by watching the "rules of engagement" in play at Dog Beach. Just a thought

(posted by Portia)

Friday, July 07, 2006

Understanding Londonistan

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Britain's rude awakening to the wolf in its midst. One would have thought that after the horror and alarm 7/7 the Brit's would have taken strong steps to root out the radical clerics preaching hate and martyrdom from the mosques of Whitechaple and Leeds. But that is not the case. It appears that our cousins have allowed themselves to be cowed by the threat of political backlash.

The British Left has joined with the jihadis to block key provisions of Tony Blair anti-terrorism campaign. As Melanie Phillips has written in her book truly frightening book "Londonistan," "The Islamic jihad has turned into the armed wing of the British Left." By fervently bowing before the altar of multiculturalism, Briton's head is now upon the block. It's a form of cultural suicide.

How Britain got to this point is a lesson in national complacency, and one that must be well heeded by this country. Melanie Phillips observes that Britain allowed itself to lose control of its borders, and those who questioned the immigration trends were silenced with cries of "racism."

"The prevailing culture of non-discriminatory entitlement and minority rights meant the courts came to thwart all government attempts to enforce immigration controls. At root was the judges' belief that the citizens of the world were entitled to exactly the same rights as the citizens of Britain. The result has been the deconstruction of British citizenship and the loss of sovereignty over national borders, laws and values."
How quickly has the face of Britain changed? Last year it was reported by the Hindustani Times:

More people in Britain attend mosques than the Church of England. It is for the first time that Muslims have overtaken Anglicans. According to figures 930,000 Muslims attend a place of worship at least once a week, whereas only 916,000 Anglicans do the same. Muslim leaders are now claiming that, given such a rise of Islam in Britain, Muslims should receive a share of the privileged status of the Church of England.
The sensibility of the First Amendment's separation of Church and State could not be more clear, could it?

But what is even more alarming is the nature of the message being disemminated to a million British Muslims every week. As Amir Tehari writes in today's Wall Street Journal (sorry, subscription required - email me):

"We have more religious freedom in Britain than in any Muslim country," says Aazam Tamimi, a pro-Hamas British Islamist. "Our grievances against Britain are not religious but political." And that is the heart of the problem. Convinced that they can never agree on a common understanding of Islam, Muslim sects in Britain have sought unity based on a political program: Islam, in its broadest expression in Britain, is a political movement. It has adopted part of the anticapitalist discourse of communism, adding to it some anti-Semitic and anti-Christian themes of Nazism, and completing the mix with Third-Worldist lamentations against racism and imperialism. This Islam is an ideology masquerading as a religious faith.

Few sermons delivered at British mosques deal with theology, and none allows God more than a cameo role. Instead, they rage about Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya, Kashmir. They are designed to portray Muslims as victims of a great "Judeo-Crusader conspiracy" led by the U.S., with Britain, Australia, Denmark and Israel, to name but a few, acting as its minions.
The Islamofacist "big lie" is evidently having some effect:

The Pew survey echoes the results of a YouGov poll last year, which showed that 6% of British Muslims, over 100,000 individuals, believed that the 7/7 attacks had been justified. In the same poll, 24% said they were prepared to help terrorists, if needed, while 56% said they understood the reasons for the attacks. More importantly, 1% -- some 16,000 -- said they were prepared to join terrorist operations in the name of Islam. That a significant number of would-be terrorists might be present within the Muslim community in Britain is the main hypothesis of the so-called Rich Picture undercover operation launched by British intelligence in the wake of 7/7. According to intelligence sources quoted by the British press, some 8,000 persons, all "British born and bred Muslims," are under investigation as "al Qaeda sympathizers."

So as England mourns it's murdered citizens today, it would be wise for we as Americans to reflect on the hard lessons learned, and no doubt to be learned again, by our Cousins across the Pond. The War on Terror is not a war against Islam, it is a war against a political shadow-state masquerading as a religion. But once entrenched in a free society, the virus is difficult to eradicate without damaging the host. We must guard against those who would use our freedoms to destroy them.

I hope Washington is paying attention.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Happy Birthday, Son

These last 24 years have flown by me. When did you become a man? When did you grow so much taller and stronger than me? Where'd you get that tattoo!

Happy birthday, rdr, jr. And although you are on the other side of the world protecting the interests of your nation, you are right here beside me. Always.



Quit My Bitchin'

I've always whined (quietly, and to myself) that my damned fingers are too short to really play, much less master the guitar. That's bullshit, of course. My fingers are too long to really play, much less master the guitar. Or something.

But now shut my mouth, and witness what is means to think outside the inside.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Beloved Leader Lights Fuse, Runs Away

The world is abuzz with the mumblings of diplomats, all of whom are "deeply concerned" about our little North Korean friend's recent bottle rocket display. The U.N. called an emergency meeting of the Security Council this morning, and then promptly adjourned for lunch (no kidding). But there's an awful lot of hand wringing going on, and it's all Bush's fault according to Molly Ivins, who still holds the honor of being The Worst Columnist Ever.

Naturally, being the good investigative pajamalist( (c), dude, like copyrighted, man, 4-eva) that I am, I wanted to get both sides of the story before I went off half-cocked on a unintelligble rant. So off I went to the Korean Central News Agency of the DPRK in search of the "inside" story of the missile launch and some insight as to what passes for grey matter over there these days.

I was disappointed. The Central News Agency had nothing on the big story. Nothing at all. To be sure, they offered plenty of the insane haranguing about U.S. Imperialist warmongering. Here's today's favorite :

The United States does not want peace at all, but only seeks to oppress
other countries and dominate the world by force. With nothing the U.S. imperialists can cover up their criminal nature as a chieftain of aggression and war and an enemy of peace. The U.S. should stop at once such reckless moves of seriously threatening and destroying the world peace and stability and accelerating new arms race.
"With nothing" we can cover stuff up? Wha??? We can't even keep a secret that there's a secret.

But there was nothing from the Central News Agnecy about how North Korea was suddenly going to transform the world into a peaceful pasture of subserviating dolts by the selective application of a mushroom cloud somewhere near East F*cking Atu-Atu in the Aluetians, even if they could get the damned thing off the launchpad. So no news is good news from North Korea, I guess. But this little item caught my eye:

Berkeley University of California Professor and His Party Arrive Here
Pyongyang, July 4 (KCNA) -- Professor of Government Emeritus of
Berkeley University of California in the United States Robert A. Scalapino and his party arrived here Tuesday.

"What's a Berkeley prof doing in North Korea?" I wondered. Instantly went to the Berkely Faculty website and looked up Professor Scalapino. Here's what I got: Nada. The guy doesn't have a bio, he isn't teaching any classes, and if you're thinking about contacting him, forget it. The man has no email address. At this point, I began to suspect that something wasn't quite jake here. A Political Science professor in North Korea without an email address??? Sounds like the CIA to me.

I googled his name in the hopes of finding some incriminating evidence that I could sell to the New York Times. Uh oh. It was worse that I thought. The guy apparently takes this Asia stuff seriously and even spends his vacations in commie garden spots like China, and the USSR/Russia. Then he comes back and writes more books, that is, when he's not clueing in Congress or bitch-slapping the U.N. I'll bet his frequent flyer miles are totally awesome.

But as I still I have no proof that Prof. Scalapino is a commie spy or a CIA agent posing as a commie spy, there is no way this story is ever going to get printed in the Times.

Unless, it's a secret.

But I'd be careful about what I say over there, Doc.
You know, like Times Select.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Foverever

"The Second Day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. . . . It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.... I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of light and glory; I can see that the end is more than worth all the means, and that posterity will triumph."

--John Adams to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776

"It appearing in the course of these debates that the colonies of N. York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and South Carolina were not yet matured for falling from the parent stem, but that they were fast advancing to that state, it was thought most prudent to wait a while for them, and to postpone the final decision to July 1, but that this might occasion as little delay as possible a committee was appointed to prepare a declaration of independence. The committee were J. Adams, Dr. Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston & myself. Committees were also appointed at the same time to prepare a plan of confederation for the colonies, and to state the terms proper to be proposed for foreign alliance.

The committee for drawing the declaration of Independence desired me to do it. It was accordingly done, and being approved by them, I reported it to the house on Friday the 28th of June when it was read and ordered to lie on the table.

On Monday, the 1st of July the house resolved itself into a committee of the whole & resumed the consideration of the original motion made by the delegates of Virginia, which being again debated through the day, was carried in the affirmative by the votes of N. Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, N. Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, N. Carolina, & Georgia. S. Carolina and Pennsylvania voted against it. Delaware having but two members present, they were divided. The delegates for New York declared they were for it themselves & were assured their constituents were for it, but that their instructions having been drawn near a twelvemonth before, when reconciliation was still the general object, they were enjoined by them to do nothing which should impede that object. They therefore thought themselves not justifiable in voting on either side, and asked leave to withdraw from the question, which was given them. The committee rose & reported their resolution to the house. Mr. Edward Rutledge of S. Carolina then requested the determination might be put off to the next day, as he believed his colleagues, tho' they disapproved of the resolution, would then join in it for the sake of unanimity. The ultimate question whether the house would agree to the resolution of the committee was accordingly postponed to the next day, when it was again moved and S. Carolina concurred in voting for it. In the meantime a third member had come post from the Delaware counties and turned the vote of that colony in favour of the resolution. Members of a different sentiment attending that morning from Pennsylvania also, their vote was changed, so that the whole 12 colonies who were authorized to vote at all, gave their voices for it; and within a few days, the convention of N. York approved of it and thus supplied the void occasioned by the withdrawing of her delegates from the vote.

Congress proceeded the same day to consider the declaration of Independence which had been reported & lain on the table the Friday preceding, and on Monday referred to a committee of the whole. The pusillanimous idea that we had friends in England worth keeping terms with, still haunted the minds of many. For this reason those passages which conveyed censures on the people of England were struck out, lest they should give them offence. The clause too, reprobating the enslaving the inhabitants of Africa, was struck out in complaisance to South Carolina and Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain the importation of slaves, and who on the contrary still wished to continue it. Our northern brethren also I believe felt a little tender under those censures; for tho' their people have very few slaves themselves yet they had been pretty considerable carriers of them to others. The debates having taken up the greater parts of the 2d 3d & 4th days of July were, in the evening of the last, closed the declaration was reported by the committee, agreed to by the house and signed by every member present except Mr. Dickinson. As the sentiments of men are known not only by what they receive, but what they reject also, I will state the form of the declaration as originally reported."

-Thomas Jefferson

Monday, July 03, 2006

No Flagging Spirit

I put up my new flag yesterday. It's an annual tradition that generally occurs on Memorial Day. My flag flys every day and one year is about as long as you can go before the flag starts to look worn. There is nothing that distresses me more than the sight of ragged-looking flag drooping and faded. I say that without any pride, but with only bewilderment at the casual disrespect so many Americans exhibit when displaying the national symbol.

And yet, so many of those same citizens feign outrage over the burning of flag as to urge the Constitution be amended to make that act a federal crime. Please. Don't trivialize the Constitution so. I find it just as distasteful to wrap one's self in the flag as a to trample it.

The American flag, like that of any nation, is a simple piece of cloth until it is imbued with a sense of national character and purpose, and thereby becomes a symbol of a common identity. Those of us who cherish the American flag do so because we recognize the shared values it represents, as do those who salute the symbols of any free state. Those who revile these same symbols do so because they reject the values expressed by the cloth, and wish the world to take notice of that fact.

But the values themselves are not contained in the cloth, so the anger represented by burning the flag in protest accomplishes nothing except to showcase the frustration of those incapable of mounting a effective argument sans inflammatory pyrotechnics. It's a photo-op, and nothing more.

On the other hand, when I gather up the retired flags I've carefully stored and take them to the VFW Post for disposal, those flags are burned with unheralded, but solemn ceremony. That act clearly reflects the national values invested in the cloth, values that I hold dear. The burning of the flag in such circumstances counts for something far more important than the shrill seconds-long exhibition of anger that is truly nothing more than a provocative act aimed at the TV cameras.

Chistopher Hitchens, himself a naturalized citizen, writes boldly in today's Wall Street Journal of the "flag fetish" that has gripped the nation recently. (The link may only work for subscribers only. Sorry. Email me if you'd like me to send a copy.) Mr. Hitchens speaks for me:

I would perhaps be suspected of excess Fourth-of-July zeal if I said that the First Amendment is my life as well as the source of my living, but I swear that it would not be that far from the truth. No other country has such a terse and comprehensive statement of the case for free expression: considered important enough to rank first, and also to rank with the freedom of religious conscience. The jewel in the crown of the Bill of Rights does not say that Congress shall make no hasty or crowd-pleasing law abridging the right of assembly and protest. It stoutly insists that Congress shall make no such law.

Thus, it does not matter at all which opinion, or which "sensitivity," is being outraged. The uttermost limit of contempt for America, or American foreign policy, is evidently the vandalizing (and, mindful of the careful neutrality of the Constitution regarding religion, let us not say "desecration") of the stars and stripes. Shall we then say that expression is protected only until it reaches its symbolic limit? What could be more absurd? It is precisely because the flag is so important to some people that we must permit its trashing by others. To legislate otherwise would be to instate a taboo, and that is exactly what the First Amendment exists to forestall....

If I find that I have stuck a flag-stamp on an envelope and accidentally put it on upside-down, I admit with slight embarrassment that I now start over with a new envelope. Nobody would ever notice my tiny disrespect, but I still won't commit it. However, the whole case would be altered if I was told that I had to get it right. The flag would no longer stand for the constitutional spirit that gives it meaning in the first place. It may once have waved over hellish plantations but it was also defended to the end by the Maine regiment at Little Round Top. Without ambiguities and ironies, it would not be what it is. And ambiguity and irony are just what the flag-fetishists do not understand.

If they did have any concept of historical and political irony, they would surely be repelled by at least some of the senators who affected to take their side. You may believe if you choose that Hillary Clinton has abruptly decided to stand between her country's star-spangled banner and its unsleeping enemies. I cannot quite shake the feeling that she is instead putting the flag between herself and her potential critics. Is it this kind of degraded election-year parody that the sponsors of the proposal seriously wanted to encourage? In Iraq, our most desperate field of battle, our troops do not display the flag on patrol because they are in someone else's country. No thinking soldier needs to have this explained to him, or her. But in Washington, the alleged "defense" of the flag depends, for its swing-votes, on people whose very stock-in-trade is cowardice. That ought never to have happened, and is an insult to those who serve, and ought not be permitted to happen again.

It's easy enough to boast that "these colors do not run." However, those who mistake the symbol for the essence are manifesting not a show of spirit for the former but a pathetic lack of confidence in the latter.

The "flag burning amendment" is one of the most disgraceful and disingenuous piece of legislation that has ever burbled up from the cesspool of pandering politics.

Word to Congress: I don't need your laws to respect my flag. Forget symbols. You can't handle the symbols. Find some other institution where laws are necessary to garner the trust and faith of those deserving of your trust.

Like Congress.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Geeks Gone Wild

Every breath you take

Every change of rate
Jobs you don't create
While we still stagflate
I'll be watching you.

First you move your lips
And hike a few more BiPS.
When demand then dips
And the yield curve flips,
I'll be watching you.

Well, it seems those zany B-school types are at it again. For this year's Follies, Columbia Business School ("CBS") students put together this hilarious, "must see" music video sung to The Police's Every Breath You Take, lampooning their Dean, former Economic Adviser for the White House, Glenn Hubbard. You may remember Hubbard was on the short list a few months ago to succeed Alan Greenspan as Fed Reserve Chair but lost out to his friend Ben "Hot Seat" Bernanke. Very clever spoof.

Now if we could just get Bernanke to stop singing to the likes of "Honey Money" Maria Bartiromo, and quit with all this market-rattling straight talk. We need obfuscation, not overcommunication! Maybe Gentle Ben should learn a trick or two from his predecessor, Mr. Greenspeak, who who did not grant an interview with the press for the 18 years he was Chairman, and reportedly proposed to Andrea Mitchell three times before she understood he was asking her to marry him

Then again, "transparency" doesn't always mean clarity:

"Monetary policy is most effective when it is as coherent, consistent and predictable as possible, while at all times leaving full scope for flexibility and the use of judgment as conditions may require."

Much better, Ben.

(posted by Portia)