Tuesday, October 31, 2006- - -
"Cross your path? You should be so lucky!"Mr. Wild-eyed Cat wasn't holding still for this photo, but it does catch his essential fuzziness.
Monday, October 30, 2006- - -
Counting unhatched chickens
Scanning the OpEds, I note a remarkable number of pundits performing autopsies on the still-writhing corpse of the Republican Party. The cause of impending death varies, but everyone seems assured that it's only a matter of time until the party is reduced to a chalk outline, their dogma run over by the Democrats' karma.
Over at Reason, David Weigel pegs the cause of death as a lack of self-criticism among the party faithful. Weigel is shocked, shocked, to discover that partisan politics is played by, yes, political partisans. Damn fool Republicans support the Republican Party because they think the Republican Party is better than the Democratic Party. Can you imagine that? Why, oh why can't they be more reflective and inward-looking like.. Markos Moulitsas. [No, I'm not making this up.]
M.E. Sprengelmeyer of the Rocky Mountain News sounds a contrary note, arguing that the Republicans' much-anticipated demise is due to an excess of intra-party squabbles. According to Sprengelmeyer, Ronald Reagan's famous 11th Commandment: "Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican" is being broken*. Centrists are dissing religious conservatives. The religious right think the moderates are in bed with the gays, figuratively, if not literally. Primaries have gotten so bloody that reconcilliation of all the factions before the general election has become impossible.
Through all this, I keep flashing on that scene from Monty Python where the plague victim protests that "he's not quite dead yet!" as he's being pitched onto the corpse wagon. Having pretty much determined that there's really not a dime's worth of difference between the major parties, I'm only sad that both parties can't lose, as they desperately deserve a bucket of cold water to break them out of their self-indulgence. Unfortunately, that won't happen and one party will emerge victorious. Even more unfortunately, they'll take their victory as a mandate, not as recognition that they're marginally less bad than their opponents.
*Update: Weigel should be forgiven for thinking this is something new, he wasn't born yet when Reagan was president.
Friday, October 27, 2006- - -
"How to Organize and Run a Geology Field Trip, Just the Way Professional Geologists Do It!"
This is too, too true and applies equally well to archaeological field trips. My favorite:
5. Whatever you do, don't postpone the field trip for any meteorological reason. Remember that blizzards, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, and freezing rain are just part of Earth's dynamic system, and will make the field trip more interesting. Students who don't enjoy looking at outcrops in freezing rain shouldn't be going into geology anyway. The only reason to postpone a field trip is if you discover that it conflicts with an important sporting event.HT: CONTACT, the Wyoming Geological Association Newsletter, October 2006.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006- - -
A flair for exaggeration
While visiting my dad in Kalispell (bastion of bland), Montana, this past week, I found myself watching more TV than I usually do, so I couldn't help seeing the latest anti-meth commercials featuring the scabby-faced children and the "not even once" admonition. I've got to say, as incredibly horrible as meth is, I'm amazed that the producers of these ads have still managed to find a way to comically exaggerate the drug's effects, albeit it's a very black comedy(!).
The kids targeted by these advertisements aren't stupid. They probably even know people who use meth and have some idea of its effects. Hit them with over-the-top Reefer Madness scare tactics and they'll likely give the admonition all the attention it deserves. Unfortunately, this is one case where, just because the government uses exaggerated scare tactics, doesn't mean the shit won't kill you. As a friend notes: "Just tell the truth, that's scary enough."
Tuesday, October 17, 2006- - -
Reynolds v. Rush
Via the InstaPundit comes a description of this little dust-up: In response to Reynolds' observation that the Republicans deserve to lose, Limbaugh responds "Do we deserve to have our taxes raised? Do we deserve a cut and run policy in Iraq? Do we deserve to have endless congressional investigations?" The point that's missed here is that they're talking about two different sets of Republicans. The Republican politicians deserve to lose. Their Republican constituents don't deserve the results of that loss.
The Republican politicians came to power in 1994 with promises of a reformed, smaller but more effective government. They've since forgotten that "Contract with America" and become just the latest version of the Big Government Party, scarcely discernable from the Democrats. Reynolds is right, they do deserve to lose. Unfortunately, Rush is also right. If the Democrats win running as the Anti-Bush Party it will be a major reinforcement for some of their worst traits. It really ought to take more than just screaming and flinging feces to win elections. We shall see.
Midget Cowboy Syndrome
I've previously mentioned the sort -- 5'5" with a hat big enough to shade the chips on both shoulders -- and I should explain the context. A friend who was once the entire front line of the Wyoming Cowboys (6'9"/385#) worked as a bouncer at some of the roughest bars in Laramie, not that Laramie had any actual rough bars, but there was occasionally trouble on a weekend.
Rob is one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet, but he's a huge, hairy-knuckled kind of guy who displays less than the average amount of forehead. It's hard to imagine anyone giving him much trouble when he's on duty and I once told him as much. He responded that the only trouble he ever had was from "midget cowboys", who would come into the bar, knock back three shots of Jack, and immediately start looking for trouble with the biggest guy in the bar. Sort of like bull-riding without the bull as far as its physical effects on our diminutive cowboy, and an endeavor probably undertaken for much the same reasons. I'd guess it's a machismo thing.
So, this is the worst case of Midget Cowboy Syndrome I've ever seen. It used to be if you fucked with the bull you got the horn. Too bad that's largely inoperative nowadays.
Drunk Norwegian breaks into prison
Nothing I can add to that.
Monday, October 16, 2006- - -
What to do about school shootings?
This post at damnum absque injuria finally prompted me to comment. While I've got no problem with school teachers (or anyone else) carrying guns, I've got to wonder if arming school teachers is the solution to school shootings. I suspect that there would be less public objection and probably less legal liability in hiring/contracting professional security officers.
There's a good deal more to security than carrying a gun. Professionals trained to assess the security assets and liabilities of each school facility and maximize security to exclude unauthorized persons, weapons, and other contraband, and trained to react as a team to any security incident, would provide a service far beyond the capabilities of armed teachers. Maintaining a secure facility is a full-time, 24/7 job. It's great if teachers want to volunteer to augment school security, but to do the job right they really ought to get professional help.
Saturday, October 07, 2006- - -
Another "must have" for the tech savvy
I've definitely got to have one of these!
Friday, October 06, 2006- - -
While previous predictions of Air America's demise may have been a bit premature, things ain't lookin' good in the cash & carry radio business.
HT: Hugh Hewitt
*or How I learned to relax and love to bomb.
Update: Chapter 11 it is. Yep, original reports of Air America's bankruptcy were a month or so premature. Their "No decision has been taken ..." non-denial was .. truthful.