Monday, November 06, 2006

I was going to add some narrative to the photo below, mostly about what an elitist horse's a$$ John Kerry is, and how, in fact, he's frankly a traitor despite his bleating about being a patriot. His "service" was coldly calculated to launch him into politics and he even somehow wrangled an "early out" from the Navy so he could participate in a political campaign. That would be before he showed up in Congress sporting long hair and a Navy uniform so that he could call every man and woman in the US military "war criminals".

I was also going to go into how much of the Democratic leadership has picked up his torch of trashing the troops. I think it was Charlie Rangel who claimed that US troops come from "the lowest echelons of society". He should have had one of his staffers research that one first. A bit of research would have revealed that as a demographic, military personnel are actually better educated and score higher on tests than the population as a whole. And of course, Dick Durbin compared them to Pol Pot, Nazis and Soviets, betraying his profound ignorance of history. Then Teddy "I drowned a girl in a drunk driving accident, went to bed (while she died in the car) and reported it the next day and still got away with it because I'm a Kennedy" Kennedy claimed the torture chambers in Iraq are still open, just under new management. I won't even address Murtha's comments, because he's obviously simply a senile old man. It'll happen to me, too, someday, but I won't have the towering ego to insist on staying in Congress despite the onset of dementia. Something Robert "Sheets" Byrd should keep in mind, too.

Anyway, the photo below gets more interesting. The troops in the photo are from the Minnesota National Guard's elements of the 34th Infantry Division. As you may recall, during the last presidential election Kerry sought to trash Bush's National Guard service by equating it with draft dodging--no doubt inspired by Republican attacks on Clinton, a true draft dodger. Never mind that Bush flew one of the most infamously dangerous fighters and was in line to be deployed to Vietnam until the Air Force determined that the F-105 just wasn't suited to that conflict. What remains is that Kerry equated National Guard service with draft dodging.

So these guys are, according to Kerry, stupid draft dodgers. I guess he only rubs elbows with "smart" draft dodgers.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Last rant for tonight. I have an incredibly long day facing me and I have to be up in 2 1/2 hours, but I just can't quite get to sleep. So one last rant.

Stem cells.

George W. Bush did not outlaw stem cell research. I've said tht before. It's a simple fact, easily ascertained, but the facts of the situation get played by certain politicians to make you believe that Bush has literally outlawed avenues of research.

Bush simply said that while the government will continue funding existing stem cell lines, it won't fund any more. If Merck or Wyeth want to bring up a new stem cell line, they are free to do so, but the government won't pay for it. Sort of makes sense in an era of cutbacks in spending, and particularly since embryonic stem cells have been an utter dead end. Hell, if there was so much promise in stem cell lines companies would be propagating them right and left at their own cost. Much like renaissance musicians who would play for the king's court in order to make money, a certain number of researchers are milking the stem cell thing for no more reason than to make a living. They know that embryonic stem cells are a complete bust, but they also know that as long as they keep us hoping for cures they are assured a good living. It all amounts to human nature and wanting to believe that there is a cure for whatever ails us as we age.

There's a guy down in Baltimore who lives like a rock star--the city begged him to come and built a lab for him, all because he's researching AIDS. He hasn't cured it yet, but, by God, he's the best thing in town because he's researching a disease that is big on the radar screen. Same thing with the stem cell people--always big promises and we're so desperate for the results that we don't give the process much thought.

Michael Fox has been doing commercials against Republican politicians based on the general Republican opposition to embryonic stem cell research. He admitted the other day that he deliberately does not take his medicines on the days when he does the commercials, just for appearances. Frankly, it's so he can appear all the more pathetic. The ethics of the whole thing get even better when you consider that he has done commercials for Ben Cardin, a Democrat, who is opposing Michael Steele, a Republican. Cardin is the incumbent, so Steele has never voted in Congress--and Cardin voted to end funding on stem cell research. So Fox gets there on TV, shaking like a dog trying to pass a peach pit, and endorses a Democrat who voted against Fox's beloved stem cell research. It's beyond ridiculous.

I won't even get into the selfishness of saying "I don't care who else has to suffer, just make me well".

And it all gets better and better and better. Remember me saying that embryonic/fetal stem cells simply don't work? There was a clinical trial with Parkinsons' patients and it was a disaster. People that were shaking left the trial drooling. It was a serious setback, but nobody wants to discuss it because opposition to embryonic/fetal stem cell research is viewed as opposition to abortion, and nobody will touch that one with a ten foot pole. And now, just this week, studies on lab animals revealed that embryonic stem cells injected into rats turned into cancerous cells.

Wish I'd made my point, but unfortunately Michael Fox et al will get the air time and grab people by their emotions while hard facts fall by the wayside.
Been away a while, but I'll try to do better.

I'm half-laughing, half being disgusted by the latest "Republican scandal". As for Tom Foley, he should kill himself. Seriously. If he had any honor he would do so, but we know from what he did that he has no honor. So instead he's going to hide behind an alcoholism program and a wall he threw up claiming he was abused as a child. Reminds me of a recent president who got caught with his pants down and blew it off by claiming he was seeking "spiritual counseling" from a guy who then proceded to knock up his secretary.

Don't care how much I drink, I've never been tempted to have sex with 15-year old boys. He can hide behind the alcohol thing all he wants, the fact is he's a pervert.

If Denny Hastert knew about Foley's emails, he needs to go. Now. No ifs, ands or buts. He needs to go. But if he didn't know, then the witch hunt needs to cease.

What kills me is the op-ed pieces in newspapers and the articles in magazines that claim this is the end of the Republican party. Oh?

One or ten bad apples spoil the truckload? I think I made my opinion on Foley pretty clear and while I'm reserving judgement on Hastert, should we find out he knew, my opinion on that is spelled out as well. But can this, as the ragazines keep claiming, destroy the Republican party?

I think not. Recall that the luminaries of the Democratic party include a man who drowned a girl in a drunk driving accident, went to bed and the next morning called the police to tell them he'd accidentally left a girl at the bottom of a lake. And a guy who was a Grand Kleagle in the Ku Klux Klan and just in the past year used the "N-Word" in public. And let's not forget Barney Franks, whose boyfriend ran a gay brothel out of Franks' apartment and Franks claims he never knew about it. And then there's the very head of the party, who probably raped a woman (the evidence is all there--emergency room visit, etc.) and who admitted to getting BJs under his desk from a woman only a few years older than his daughter.

In other words, there are plenty of bad apples, and to claim the Republican party is going to implode just because Tom Foley is a pervert is absurd. And as far as coverups--need I even go there, Teddy?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I just found out that Steve Irwin was killed recently. I'm sort of two minds on the whole thing.

For one, he deserves great credit for his work. Like Jacques Cousteau and Marlin Perkins (along with poor Jim Fowler who always got saddled with wrestling enraged hippos while Marlin spoke into the camera), he really brought the beauty of nature to the forefront. Through his personality he was able to make nature study popular. No doubt there are thousands of children out there in whom he awakened a real interest in nature and if some percentage of them retain that interest, we will all have benefitted.

On the other hand, I feel that he was remiss in that he downplayed the dangers inherent in screwing with Mother Nature. Don't get me wrong: I feel perfectly safe in the woods. Safer, in fact, than I do staying in a motel or walking down a city street in broad daylight. But that's because I know better than to go dragging kraits around by their tails, I know that polar bears and fer-de-lances are unique in nature in that they will actively hunt humans, I use bear bags when called for and I don't go shoving my hand in holes or crevices.

I don't rejoice in his death, in fact I rue that the world has lost a terrific, charasmatic educator (not to mention husband and father); but in nature, just like everywhere else, there are rules. And Steve Irwin routinely broke them.

Friday, August 25, 2006

What an evening.

I am probably a contradiction--I hunt, I fish, I love being in the woods, I was once a real live Green Beret...but I have also played musical instruments and marched with them most of my life. I was six when my overachieving father demanded I start taking music lessons. I didn't even really know what I wanted to play, but I told him I'd play the "long black thing" (I'd seen someone play it on TV the night before). That was the kickoff of a life-long love affair with the clarinet.

I played clarinet every opportunity I had--community band, school band, seven straight years of all-county band, western Maryland regional band, Baltimore Colts (remember them?) marching band. I also picked up the tenor saxophone (dirty secret--it's easy for clarinet players to pick up the sax and the flute) for jazz band and musical plays. I even played wth the school orchestra. I also picked up the bass baritone bugle and played with four different drum and bugle corps over the years. I still play baritone bugle in parades and so forth to this day.

Don't get me wrong--I was never particularly good, but I was and am passionate about it.

This evening was the final day of band camp at my son's high school and they presented an exhibition for the parents. Given the history I've presented, you can imagine the emotions I felt as he stepped off the line and took the field with the band.

Fortunately, the field faces west, into the setting sun, and it was quite hot, so I was able to ummm, wipe my brow periodically. Just sweat on my brow...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I've not been very good at keeping my links updated. It's a task I really need to undertake--many of the links no longer function, and there are so many I really should include. It's a huge task, but I'll start of with a link to a blog I find interesting:

The url is new, but the blogger has a solid history of interesting posts.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

"Band of Brothers" has been shown numerous times on cable television over the last few years. It's also been a book even longer than that.

Even though I read the book some years ago, I find the series incredibly compelling (probably because of the high degree of accuracy), so I find myself watching it every time it appears on the History Channel. Tonight's episode was entitled "Why We Fight", and it explored different reasons--news from home about the evil Nazis, a subtle implication about guys fighting for each other (friends defending friends), and finally it concludes with the guys discovering a concentration camp. The evil that they discover is indescribable.

However. Once again for the ten-millionth time: Anyone who compares Bush to Hitler is a cretin. I've been to Auschwitz-Birkenau, I've been to Dachau. I've seen the results of a regime headed by a truly evil man and his twisted henchmen. There's no comparison.

The bad boys at Gitmo, who are demonstrably threats, get Islamic meals, exercise, religious items, et al--all incredible tolerance given that they are known enemies of the western world.
In Nazi Germany; Jews, Gypsies, etc. were rounded up and put to death without regard to their loyalties--they were simply judged to be "enemies of the state" and killed; most often by incredibly inhumane means. The death toll will never be sorted out. We know it includes some six million (six million!!) Jews, probably a like number of "undesirables" such as Gypsies and other eastern Europeans and untold numbers of Soviet soldiers taken prisoner. The Soviets probably got the best deal of all--they were machine-gunned in trenches which were then closed over their bodies (although they did test out the gas chambers at Auschwitz using Soviets--what a privilege! Everyone else either worked until they starved to death or were herded into "showers" in which they were gassed. Technically, there were "work camps" and "death camps", but the difference is academic. Who did what? Well, big, strapping guys got culled out and were given the "priviledge" of work/starvation until one or the other did them in. Older men, women and children were stripped of clothing, shoes, hair, tooth fillings, you name it...and then sent to the gas chambers lest they become burdensome. Oh, and I'm sure that some of the women were kept for, umm, "recreational purposes".

The displays at Auschwitz-Birkenau are beyond heartbreaking. Literally mountains of baby shoes. Not just childrens' shoes--baby shoes. Mountains of them. Mountains of personal effects--mostly toys. Mountains and mountains of effects stripped from women and children before they stuffed them into a gas chamber and ended their lives.

I could keep going. Truth is, the "Band of Brothers" epsisode set me off again, but to good reason. If you think that there is ANY comparison between Bush and Hitler, you really, really need a good flossing of the brain.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I emailed the writer of the story I referenced below and asked her if she was proud of revealing a potential vulerability in our defense during a time of conflict.

Her reply was full of the usual arrogant platitudes about "keeping the taxpayers informed", etc. She went on to state that the agency was aware that she was writing the article and raised no objections. Of course they didn't. They knew she'd write it anyway and making an issue of it would only further publicize the article and make things worse.

Never one to leave well enough alone, I emailed her again, quoting her line about the agency raising no objections and asked her if she'd give a damn if they had. Shockingly--no reply.

Fortunately the paper is a lightweight rag with a seriously dwindling circulation. For one thing, the city that it "serves" is collapsing in on itself a la Detroit.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Newspeople are whores. Plain and simple.

I'd like to find a more acceptable, less abrasive monicker, but time and time again they show themselves to be nothing more than gutter whores.

Just the other day a local paper (which is read by a lot more people than who read this blog) "broke" the story that a government agency might be hitting the wall on energy requirements. For the life of me, I can't imagine why anyone could be so self-important that he/she felt the need to call a reporter and build him/herself up ego-wise in this way. And yes, it's all ego. Why on earth would someone need to call the local paper to report that a government agency might see an electrical shortage if not to build up his/her own ego? Unless it's a plain and simple attempt to hurt our own defense community. And that's as likely as not since many Muslims have lately shown their loyalties to be to Islam, and not the country that has protected and nurtured them.

So it's either ego or an undercover sabateur. There's just no other explanation: "Hello, I'd like to report that an important defense agency is running low on electrical power".

And self-important gutter whore reporter actually makes a story of it.

Her name is Siobhan Gorman, and I've emailed her twice, but I don't expect a reply. She's from the Big City and ergo much more erudite than I (at least in her mind).

Monday, August 07, 2006

I feel like I often play off on the fact that I was in the Army for about ten years. I've been out for some 16 years now, so sometimes I feel like I'm trying to make currency on something I no longer am. But I can't deny that I still feel a tremendous pull toward the military in general and the Army in particular. Military service is an incredibly profound, soul-deep experience that people who have never been there can't begin to understand. And I never intended to get out when I did. A series of injuries left me no other choice, but I had every intention of making the Army a career.

Recently a video has been circulating the internet, in which a Lieutenant Colonel named Randolph White delivers a graduation address to a class at the US Army Infantry School. I think it sums everything up and makes it clear why I was once proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with men such as LTC White and the graduating class, and why I'll always be proud of the time I spent in the Army, even if I am a has-been.

You can see it at one of these two links, among others:

Monday, July 31, 2006

Ten Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter

Rule One: If you pull into my driveway and honk you'd better be delivering a package, because you're sure as hell not picking anything up.

Rule Two: You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her, so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter's body, I will remove them from your body.

Rule Three: I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips. Please don't take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear showing and your pants ten sizes too big, and I will not object. However, in order to assure that your clothes do not, in fact, come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my electric staple gun and fasten your trousers securely in place around your waist.

Rule Four: I'm sure you've been told that in today's world, sex without utilizing a "barrier method" of some kind can kill you. Let me elaborate: when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.

Rule Five: In order for us to get to know each other, I am told, we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is "early."

Rule Six: I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to date other girls. This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter. Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make you cry.

Rule Seven: As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time for a movie, you should not be dating. My daughter is putting on her makeup, a process which can take longer than painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of just standing there, why don't you do something useful... like changing the oil in my car?

Rule Eight: The following places are not appropriate for a date with my daughter:
Places where there are beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden stool.
Places where there are no parents, policemen, or nuns within eyesight.
Places where there is darkness.
Places where there is dancing, holding hands, or happiness of any kind.
Places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to induce my daughter to wear shorts, tank tops, midriff T-shirts, or anything other than overalls, a sweater, and a goose down parka zipped up to her Adam’s Apple.
Movies with a strong romantic or sexual theme are to be avoided; movies which feature chainsaws are okay. Hockey games are okay, too, as are baseball games.
Visits to old folks' homes are best.

Rule Nine: Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a potbellied, balding, middle-aged, dimwitted has-been. But on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all-knowing, merciless god of your universe. If I ask you where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel, and five acres behind the house. Do not trifle with me.

Rule Ten: Be afraid. Be very afraid. It takes very little for me to mistake the sound of your car in the driveway for a chopper coming in over a rice paddy near Hanoi. When my Agent Orange starts acting up, the voices in my head frequently tell me to clean the guns as I wait for you to bring my daughter home. As soon as you pull into the driveway you should exit your car with both hands in plain sight, speak the perimeter password, announce in a clear voice that you have brought my daughter home safely and early, then return to your car - there is no need for you to come inside. The camouflaged face at the window is mine.

There are only ten rules, so I expect you to be able to recite them to me. If you cannot remember them, we will result to alternate means. I am aware that having them tatooed on you would be cost-prohibitive, but ink will wash off. May I suggest my wood burning tool?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

I had no intention of ever posting anything like this, but I was trying to think of a city in Florida synonymous with retirees and stumbled over this article:

STDs Running Rampant in Retirement Community

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Talk about egos. It wasn't enough for John Kerry to come home from Vietnam and accuse every other person in Vietnam of being a war criminal (but not him, of course--after all, he earned three purple hearts), now he thinks he has the master plan for the world.

Via Toni (owner of the best legs in Bloggerdom), a new height in Kerry's delusional "I'm King of the World" ego: "If I was president, this wouldn't have happened". Yep, big guy, I'm sure that you'd have kept the world under control. No more killing Israelis just because they're different (the territory thing is beyond dispute because Palestinians have no actual "homeland", either), yep, if you were president the sun would take a few days off and cure global warming, too. Hell, I'll bet if you were president there'd be no more tsunamis, either.

How about some specifics, Mr. Haircut--Just how would you have prevented the Islamic hatemongers from attacking Israel between your visits to the salon? Talk is cheap--"Wouldn't have happened if I was president". Well, then, just how and why would it not have happened? Do you have a magic wand that suddenly makes Islam actually the "Religion of Love"? Can you magically make the Arab world stop hating their Semitic brethren?

Didn't think so. G'night Johnny. See you at the beauty parlor.
I know that I've visited this subject before, but it deserves clarification, especially since the left hates Bush so much that they'll make an issue out of anything.

We on the right didn't much care for the Boy President, Billy "Can I Look Up Your Skirt" Clinton, but the vitriol unleashed against Bush is ridiculous, and much of it is utterly unwarranted--it's just pure hate, which I thought the left declaims.

Anyway, the stem cell debate hit the news again last week when Bush vetoed a bill to expand federal funding of fetal stem cell research. To make things more dramatic, it's his first veto.

Let's take things step-by-step: First--Bush did not outlaw fetal stem cell research. Repeat after me: Bush did not outlaw fetal stem cell research. The hate wing of the Democratic party wants you to believe that he quashed all fetal stem cell research. He did not. He only said that the government will continue funding research on several established cell lines (big surprise, kids--the government is still funding fetal stem cell research), but won't fund research on any new lines.

Not a big surprise--the government has been cutting back on all sorts of expenditures ever since the Clinton recession (don't believe me on that one, look it up). And fetal stem cell research has shown zero potential. Why should the government fund a dry hole in an era of cutbacks?

A primer on stem cells: Stem cells are "undifferentiated" cells. In other words, they haven't yet become muscle cells, skin cells, eye cells, etc. In theory they are like sheet metal, which can be hammered into a particular shape. Theoretically they can be coaxed to become a particular sort of cell by exposing them to specialized conditions which force them in one direction or another. In other words, theory has it that a stem cell can be grown so as to become a cell that could bridge a gap in a severed spinal cord.

But, it doesn't work that way. There have been some positive results in stem cell research, but in every case it has involved adult stem cells. Yes, there are adult stem cells. They exist as peripheral blood cells, which are much less numerous than red and white blood cells, but exist nonetheless; and in adipose tissue (fat). Adipose tissue is in no short supply these days and at any rate, once obtained, stem cells can be cloned to become a cell line, making them a commercially available product for any biotech company to obtain and work with.

Fetal stem cell research is a bust. I don't know why, nobody knows why, but they just don't work. But to say "we don't need to be drilling this dry hole anymore" is to be instantly labeled "anti-abortion", the 21st century equivalent of "Nazi".

There are two reasons for this. The primary reason is that there is a number of scientists making damn good livings playing with fetal stem cells. To this day they have absolutely nothing to show for their efforts, but to call them on it is to break their rice bowl. They need the grants, they need the money, and they'll be damned if they'll admit they have nothing to show for it. Instead, they intimate that anyone who is against their research is a Luddite or, gasp, anti-abortion. The second reason is that fetal stem cell research mitigates abortion. It's more palatable if the "byproduct" goes to biotech research.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Thought I was done with baseball two weekends ago when I threw my keys at an obese guy whose hair, beard and physique make him look exactly like a garden gnome. I kid you not--picture the "roaming gnome" from Expedia or whatever it is, add 400 pounds and a self-serving ego equal to a Clinton, and you have this guy.

Well, turns out we're sponsoring the state senior league tournament. We spent five evenings and Saturday morning getting two fields ready. I have no idea how much food we unloaded, but we unloaded 240 lbs. of ice just for Saturday.

This is a small state, so everything is relative, but some of the the teams are driving as much as five hours to get here, and the tournament will last six days. Many are checking into the few hotels we have, at personal cost.

Kinda makes me glad my son opted for a high adventure Scout experience.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

One of my pet peeves is highly paid newspeople who just can't get it right. Some months ago the local paper wrote an article about a guy who was deploying with the "82nd Engineer Armored Tank Division". I wrote an email to the editor explaining that there are no engineer divisions and "Armored Tank" was redundant. I found an 82nd Engineer Bn (SEP) stationed in Germany which was no doubt what the "journalist" was referring to. Our small town newspaper is run by big city liberals, and he didn't even deign to reply to my email.

Now I just turned on the TV to find Greta Van Susteren reporting on the events in the Middle East. To be fair, she probably makes her cool half million or so reading scripts wriiten for her by others, so I can only half blame her for reading reports as she stares into the camera with that lopsided stroke-looking visage. But enough is enough. She just said that she was going to report on Israeli tanks "firing deep into Lebanese territory". Well first, tanks mostly fire line-of-sight, and they certainly don't fire "deep". Second, the armor they showed was not tanks, but self-propelled artillery. Which can "fire deep". I you're going to make six figures times two, at least get things right. It's like that Geico commercial with the Cro-Magnons--"Next time do a little research".

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Children aren't stupid. They're less experienced, but not stupid.

Some time ago my son read the book "Blackhawk Down". I probably should have sat down with him after he read it and talked about certain things, but I never did.

Today we drove down to where the wife works to look at a vehicle. Looked at it, test-drove it, etc. Then I put the kids back in the truck and we drove out of the parking lot. As we drove out we passed a car bearing a bumper sticker proclaiming "When Clinton Lied, No One Died". Refreshing to see someone admitting that Clinton is a pathological liar, a bit less encouraging to see that some people still need to call Bush a liar weeks after we unearthed some 500 cannisters of gas.

As we drove past the car my son (spontaneously--not prompted by me) said "Well, Clinton lied and people got killed". I started thinking Khobar Towers and such, but he followed up with this observation: The soldiers in Somalia said they needed armored vehicles, but Clinton told them they didn't need them and they died because of that.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Ok. I'm hacked off for only about the 1200th time since we began the Global War on Terror.

The war began years ago. I guess the serious war on the West began in 1979 when stooges reacting to the emergence to power of the anti-west fundamentalist Ayatollah Khomeini reacted in an anti-west fervor (similar to the Nazi fervor of the '30s) against the US embassy in Teheran.

Subsequent to that various radical Islamists have showed their courage by dumping an elderly man in a wheelchair from a cruise ship (Leon Klinghoffer from the Achille Lauro), ganging up on a brave young man who happened to have a US passport and beating him to death (Robert Stetham), and blowing up an assortment of old folks' homes, pizza parlors and school buses in Israel. I particularly applaud their vast courage in blowing up little children. In a stellar show of statesmanship and courage they boarded several airliners and used boxcutters to gut stewardesses (I thought women were "special" in Islam) until the pilots could no longer stand things and handed the controls over to soulless butchers who flew the aircraft into buildings containing people who had nothing whatsoever to do with stated Islamic issues with US policies.

Are we pissed? Hell yes. And we've showed it in the form of stealth aircraft, AC-130s, Apache Longbows, heavily amored/armed troops, etc. Some would call it an "assymetric" response--responding to agression from terrorists and the odd poorly trained/equipped military with 21st Century weapons and tactics, but if you don't want to find yourself staring at an Apache Longbow, don't gas our subways or bomb our buildings. It's that easy.

A few years ago we coerced Israel into making concessions to the Palestinian Authority (which entity came about because we twisted Israel's arm in the first place} and the PA rewarded us by holding one hell of a party on the night of 9/11. Screw you guys. And which Imam has come forward to condemn the murders in the name of Islam? I'll give you a minute. Yep---not one. A few governments have stepped forward, notably Pakistan, but nowhere have the people risen up en masse and decried the outright murders of 9/11.

So am I worked up about Abu Ghraib? Well, it shouldn't have happened. But just how, John Murtha, does a couple of war weary kids doing stupid things rate against an enemy that revels in death? Lynndie England, the barely functional moron who is the Abu Ghraib poster girl, did stupid things with her comrades. But they didn't saw any heads off, they didn't string burnt, executed bodies from bridges--you get the point (or do you in your political ambitions)?. How about our latest casualties, Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker? They were so horrendously tortured and beaten that our people had to resort to DNA to identify them. They weren't caught in a bombing strike that blew them up--they were captured and their bodies were deliberately and systematically destroyed while they screamed in agony. What do you think, John "Ambition" Murtha, Teddy "Swimmer" Kennedy and John "Buddyf*cker" Kerry? Are we fighting a fight best kept on their soil or should we stand down and let them bring the fight back to us again one clear September day?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Well, it's 2:00 AM and I'm just now getting through a day and getting ready to bed down so I can get through another day, but I just had an extraordinary moment.

Saw the last moments of a movie. One the the "Godfather" movies, but I don't know which one other than I know it's not the first. I don't know exactly what was going on, but it seemed to be a number of "hits" while people watched an opera. It culminated with a family exiting the opera house and being caught in a cross fire in which a daughter was hit and killed.

I have news for the world. If anyone ever hurts my daughter, he or she had better kill me first. Because if I am alive, I will bring a world of hurt on that person that he or she will never forget (at least until the point of death). And death won't be instantaneous. I kid you not.

I don't make threats. I issue promises.

Just some late night thoughts. You may date my daughter, but if you hurt her, I'll make you wish you had never been born. I promise.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sports are not the be-all and end-all for me, but since we live in an area where it would be pretty difficult to get eight or ten guys together for a pickup game (although we certainly have the land for it), boys' baseball and girls' softball have become a part of our lives. I've gotten involved in baseball, mostly to my distress (although as NOTR points out it may qualify me as a US/Iraqi liaison), but that's my own mistake.

Anyway, quite an evening today. It's the last round of the end-of-season tournament and SnakeEater Jr's team is hot in the chase. Last year they were the team to beat and somehow just lost momentum in the tournament. This year they have been incredibly inconsistent. Over the course of the season they succeeded in losing several games to teams that they should have beaten handily. It's just been wierd that way. Tonight they trailed the hands-down best team in the league for most of the game, but always stayed close enough that everyone knew the game wasn't over just yet. A Junior League game lasts seven innings--this game went nine before a winner emerged and SnakeEater Jr's team finally took it 6-4. SnakeEater Jr personally drove in two runs and made a great catch to put a batter out. He also employed his bazooka of an arm to keep a couple of runners at bay.

Took him, the Bear and one of Bear's friends out for ice cream after the game. We'd have gone for ice cream either way, but I'm sure it tasted just a bit better this way.

It's best two out of three, so I'm not rejoycing yet. But they rose up and beat a team that they've never beaten before. Game Two comes Wednesday. I damn near had to restart my heart several times tonight--I can't imagine what Wednesday will be like...

(On a really evil note, the manager's nancy-boy son was away today, so he wasn't a factor in the game. Expect him to be a [negative] factor in Wednesday's game)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

How do you fire vounteers?

Damnded if I know, but the umpire coordinators got fired. That was the job I did last year by myself. It proved to be an incredibly difficult job--far worse than I ever imagined--by I refuse to quit, so I rode it out and did the job.

Well, the umpire coordinators (two--I was only one) got canned yesterday and guess who the league went to in order to finish the season. Yep, good ol' dumbass SnakeEater.

Fortunately I have my contacts from last year and am in good terms with all of them. The couple that took the job this year alienated a lot of the umps. So I have to pick up the pieces and drive on. I'm not complaining--not at all--the most important thing is to keep the league going for the kids, and I've already covered most of the games (might take a few myself), just commenting on league sports. I think I've said this before, but it takes adults to really f*ck up sports for kids.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Hit the landfill/recycling center the other day to offload a whole bunch of tree branches (which will be turned into mulch) and paper.

I have a "Dubya" sticker on the truck. I'm not at all ashamed that I voted for him instead of the weenie/buddy f*cker that the Democrats nominated. He's not perfect, but he slowed the economic downturn that Clinton initiated and above all we're fighting Islamic fundamentalism on their turf, not ours.

Anyway, some woman who was also offloading plastic or something saw my sticker and made a snide comment about "stupid" (the Democrat fantasy that Dubya, who has a history of shrewd corporate decisions and got elected twice, is a stupid man...) and "illegal" war.

Headed down the road to the gas station and incredibly, there she is right in front of me. The kids reacted first and said "Hey, there's the woman who yelled at you at the recycling center". I got out of the truck and said "Yep, it's her". At that point I saw HER bumper stickers, of which there were at least eight. They were so trite that it defies intellect. One which I remember simply stated "Cheney is a Creep". Wow--what an intellectual rebuttal of the current administration's policies!

Being as she felt compelled to yell at me (as I--gasp--recycled things, something that everyone knows Republicans don't do), I felt obligated to comment on the lack of intellect reflected by her bumper stickers. She ended up yelling at me in the gas station that I had "anger issues". Hmmm--Who had the stupid bumper stickers and had to shout at me at the recycling center???

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I've been meaning to post this link for quite some time now. An excellent article on baseball:

Baseball's Timeless Appeal

Monday, June 05, 2006

Haven't had much time or inclination to post lately, so I'll just post some random thoughts to keep the blog alive for the time being.

Baseball: Gotta love the game, gotta hate being one of the people who helps keep the league going. Last year I scheduled umpires for games and it was a rough go. Out of a roster of 55 umpires, 23 of whom give a fig, it's hard to find umpires to cover some 32+ games a week. I took my medicine and covered most of the games but made it known at the end of the season that I wouldn't schedule umpires again. This year I was called at the last minute and asked to be the commissioner for the Jr and Sr leagues. I took it. This year the umpire guy (trying to do the right thing--in his mind) accidentally alienated most of the experienced umpires and umpire coverage this year has been dismal. I've had to call off a few games and ask coaches to be creative for a few more. I ended up umpiring a game on Saturday--not something I mind, but it's tough calling your son out. Almost blew a call because a guy on my son's team made a sweet tag--but dropped the ball. I was so excited by the tag I didn't see the ball hit the ground, just saw it roll away.

School: This year was 8th grade graduation. Now, to me 8th grade graduation is an odd concept--yet another overdoing of things...someone once told me recently that her kid "graduated" kindergarten and they had to rent a cap and gown. Fortunately it wasn't as bad as a cap and gown kindergarten "graduation". Not quite, anyway. When I was in 8th grade we just sort of segued to high school. We knew it was a new atmosphere with lots of new people, but we knew we'd see each other. In the case of a parochial school, there's a real diaspora. The kids, most of whom have been together since kindergarten (nine years), are being spread out among a good 15 high schools, so there's a sense of moving on. Hence the big deal over 8th grade "graduation". Incredibly, I got a bit maudlin, thinking about some of the guys I might not see again. I've been lucky to go on a lot of field trips over the years and incredibly, some of the guys find me "cool". There's Fred, who always smiles. Cory, whom I'd vote most likely to fall down an abandoned elevator shaft, but is a good guy. There's Beefy (his dad's nickname), who is the only 13-year old in the world who can pull off a bow tie and sunglasses. Marc, tall and happy. Drew--a quiet, introspective guy whom I can't draw out but was my son's best buddy. Calvin, who stands six-six(at 14-years)and works at the local ice cream shop. They all greet me, even when I'm not there for a field trip, with "Hi, J...'s Dad". I'll miss that.

Gaduation: An interesting event. I'm no prude by a long shot, but I was amazed by the number of girls (13/14-year olds) literally wobbling on their 5-6 inch heels as they filed in sans uniform for graduation. One girl (a teacher's daughter) wore a dress in which the hemline bobbed up and down and very nearly exposed her bottom (I kid you not). Another girl showed more cleavage than I imagined possible in a 13/14-year old. Yet another girl wobbled in on stilletto heels which wrapped around her ankles as her shirt showed off predernaturally advanced mammalian features. So much for the idea of staid churchgoers...

Birthday: Got another year older Saturday and spent the evening stripping and polishing the kitchen floor. I'd hoped to be stripping something else on my birthday. Sigh.

Monday, May 29, 2006

"A Bridge Too Far" is on now. It has the best depiction of what it's like to jump from an aircraft of any movie I've ever seen.
And now the obligatory Memorial Day posts. Most of the people who waste their time reading the tripe I post on this page are solidly on the side of the military, so I'm largely preaching to the choir. But who knows, maybe some day I'll sway just one person. Maybe even a guy who goes down on corn dogs (inside joke).

The first, "What is a Vet" was written by a Marine Corps Chaplain, the second, "Tommy" was written by Rudyard Kipling--the soldiers' poet. Thomas Atkins was a legendary British soldier, hence British soldiers are often referred to as "Tommys". In this case Tommy has become an avatar for all of those who fight on the side of right.

For those not familiar with these works I bid you read them, and give them some thought.

What Is a Vet?

Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eyes. Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel -- or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul's alloy forged in the refinery of adversity. Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem.

You can't tell a vet just by looking. What is a vet?

The Vet is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run out of fuel.

The Vet may be the bar room loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel in Korea.

The Vet is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night in Da Nang.

The Vet is the former POW who went away one person and came back another - or didn't come back AT ALL.

The Vet is the Quantico drill instructor who maybe never experienced combat -- but saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines by teaching them to watch and protect each other's backs.

The Vet is the wheel chair-riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.

The Vet is the career quartermaster who watched the ribbons and medals pass him by but made certain every needed bullet found it's way to the front line.

The Vet is one of the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose uncommon valor lies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.

The Vet is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket -- palsied now and aggravatingly slow --who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife was still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.

The Vet is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being -- a person who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

by Marine Corp chaplain, Father Denis Edward O'Brian

"Tommy" by Rudyard Kipling

I WENT into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it’s "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,—
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.
I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,—
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.
Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,—
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.
We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,—
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there’s trouble in the wind.
You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool—you bet that Tommy sees!

Rudyard Kipling

Small town Memorial Day parade today. The best kind.

We had Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and scouts I don't know anything about (Amana, Job's Daughters), school children carrying flags and elderly men in Ford convertibles. No commercialization, no floats--just sincere people honoring those who have given their all for this greatest of all countries.

I'm a pretty tough sort of guy. I was SF, I've worked construction, factories, I've laid on the ground and watched blood pool around me--in other words I'm not exactly a pansy. But I can't go to that parade without having to pretend to wipe sweat off of my face a few times.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Want to lose ten years off of your life?

Get a letter from the Clerk of the Circuit Court in which you can see the word "Subpoena" through the address window. I couldn't get that thing opened quickly enough.

As it turns out I had very peripheral involvement in a murder and I've been "commanded" to testify for the state. I wrote about this months ago when it ocurred, but basically somebody promised delivery of drugs, reniged on it and his "customer" quite literally blew his head off. The brother of the "victim" ran into our Boy Scout meeting and I actually went over to greet him thinking he was a new parent. Things went downhill from there and we ended up taking him to the local police station where my name was recorded.

We'll see what it all leads to--I have no problems whatsoever with testifying, but I honestly don't think I can really add anything to the case. On the other hand, it should be very interesting sitting in on a murder trial--We might get one murder every ten years here, so it's an opportunity, so to speak. Neither the shooter nor the "victim" were exactly upstanding citizens, so no tears need be shed for anyone involved.

Friday, May 26, 2006

My latest baseball email, word for word:


I hadn't planned to be Junior/Senior Commissioner this year. Last year's stint as Umpire Coordinator nearly killed me. I had every intention of sitting on my fat posterior and enjoying baseball this year, but I got a last minute call asking if I'd take the commissioner position and couldn't turn it down. I want the guys to have a quality baseball season. I'm not the best commissioner in the world by a long shot--I'm about to lose my mind over rescheduling games among other issues.

Having put my own shortcomings on the line I'd like to address two issues, one which some people will regard as minor and one which I will remain adament about.

The (seemingly) minor issue is the flag. I think baseball should be played underneath an American flag. As far as I know, the flag gets flown only when I put it up and I was dismayed to find that when I put it up last Saturday, the teams which followed never bothered to take it down. I can't make anyone put it up or take it down, but I think it would project a nice image if we flew the flag during games and then took it down and stored it properly until the next game. As a former Boy Scout and soldier I can give lessons on how to fold it if need be.

Ok, off of my soapbox. Now for the real reason I am writing this email.

I received a call from John ---- (umpire, and a damned good one) tonight about the game. John feels that the base umpire took a lot of heat and John told me that as far as he's concerned every one of the calls could have gone either way. He said that the guy called a good game. I have tremendous respect for John's judgement, and if he feels that the base umpire called a good game, I'm going to go with it.

As I said, I didn't ask to be commissioner and I know I'm not very good at it, but I am the commissioner for better or for worse. I purposely did not look at the schedule to see who played tonight, and I won't. This warning is for everyone:

I will not tolerate coaches, managers or parents giving umpires a hard time. If you want to discuss a call in a rational manner, that's fine (Bear in mind that judgement calls are not open to discussion, period). Little League Baseball is about imparting a love of the game, teaching kids how to play, teaching teamwork, teaching sportsmanship, encouraging them to put their heart in it and play hard, teaching them how to win with dignity and lose gracefully. When you die your obituary might note that you were active in youth sports--it won't post your win/loss record.

Part and parcel with developing young baseball players is developing young kids who have an interest in officiating the game as well. Jumping all over young, budding umpires does the game no favors. It just makes them quit. We are suffering from a serious dearth of umpires. By contrast, the Jaycees, where my daughter plays, have no shortage of umpires. The umpires there are treated with great respect despite the fact that I can tell you as a former softball umpire myself that they are not even as good as our 13-year old umpires. They don't call games in a "professional" manner and often make bad calls. BUT--they are afforded respect and never badmouthed in front of the girls.

Our job is to develop young boys (and girls). Beating up on the umpires does nothing to that end. What coach has never signaled a player to steal only to have the player picked off? Likewise, umpires sometimes boot calls. But until you're perfect, lay off the umpires.

John often briefs managers before the game with this line: "You get two warnings, and this is your first". I'm following in that vein. Yes, I know that sometimes something outrageous occurs on the field, but 99.9% of the time it's a good guy doing his best to call a good game.

Let's have a good time and play some baseball.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Discrimination comes in all flavors. There's a claim by certain people, mostly black "leaders" who literally make a living playing the race card, that only "empowered" people can discriminate, ergo only straight white males are capable of discrimination. Well, discrimination is discrimination. Period. And I've seen every bit as much (far more, actually) discrimination from minorities than from the evil straight white male.

Well, here's a turn I never would have thought of--

Gallaudet University is variously described as "the nation's only" and the "world's only" university for the deaf. I don't know know which, if either, is true, but I know that it enjoys a reputation as a stellar institution of learning.

Well, the students at Gallaudet have chosen to make total a$$es of themselves. Recently a woman named Jane Fernandes was selected to succeed the outgoing president of the university. Now, to my mind, a president manages a university. In the selection process, you are looking for someone who can do that job. The president of Wyotech probably doesn't know a lot about repairing diesel locomotives, he/she knows how to run a school. Leave the technical details to the instructors. Not good enough for the students at Gallaudet. The president must be deaf.

Well, Mrs. Fernandes just happens to be deaf. From birth. But---she learned to speak and grew up speaking. She didn't learn American Sign Language until her early 20's. The problem? She's not "deaf enough".

Gad. Reminds me of the arguments I've heard about people not being "black enough". It's discrimination, plain and simple. You can cloak it with strawmen about "empowerment" and whatever else, but it's simple discrimination. Something that I hope the graduates of Gallaudet never have to contend with themselves.

Hell, she's not even new. She was the provost under the outgoing president and is married to a (hearing) retired Gallaudet professor.

To date the students have gone so far as to bar entrances with vehicles and have actually asked Congress to intervene. The protests have even spread to the Maryland School for the Deaf in some show of misplaced solidarity. The dispute has been so bitter that the interim head of the board of trustees resigned, saying she was just overwhelmed by everything and had to go. Nice work, students. Hope you're proud of yourselves.

And the whole thing isn't without precedent. In 1988, when a hearing woman was appointed president, the students shut the campus down for a week and forced her to resign.

Imagine me in a position to hire someone and telling them "We're all hearing people, we just don't want your kind around here". I wouldn't do that in a million years, but you get the point.

Discrimination, boys and girls, is discrimination. Period.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Well, I blew a weather call this evening. It had been nasty, drizzling and unseasonably cold all day. Two hours prior to game time it appeared that more storms were blowing in from the south, so after agonizing all afternoon I decided I had to make a call sooner or later, so I called tonight's game off. I made the call much sooner than last years' commissioner would have, but we spent a lot of time hanging on a thread with him, not to mention driving to the ballfield in rain because he wouldn't make the call until the last possible second. For better or worse, tonight's games didn't happen.

Didn't want to end up like these guys...

Rain Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Finally caught a break. The kids hang out with a girl and boy down the road whose father is a contractor. They're the big paintball crew, and while I didn't think much of paintball when I watched it, the kids had a blast.

We live adjacent to a corn field and while there is a row of trees between us and the field we get ferocious winds that sweep across it. Some years ago we lost a big chunk of siding across the back of the house and recently we lost a downspout.

I have an extension ladder, but it won't reach the roof in the back of the house (it's on a downslope and has a walkout basement), so I went and called the guy I know. Hell, if I'm going to pay someone, it may as well be someone I know and like. He wasn't in, so I left a message. Two days later two guys simply showed up, replaced the downspout, took all of the bent downspout with them and left. Just like that.

So I called and left another message. He called me back this morning and I asked him what I owed. I know it was $400+. It was estimated at less than our $500 deductable, but just barely less. "I don't know", he said, "just buy the boys a case of paintballs next time we go out". We're talking $25 bucks.

If anyone wants to know a good contractor (and a good guy) in central Maryland, drop me a line.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

"Dr. Stangelove or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb" came on the other night. It's one of those films that I just can't stop myself from watching. It's the darkest of dark comedies, but the deadpan performances by the actors and the whole way it's put across make it an incredibly compelling film.

It's an anti-war film (soldiers aren't necessarily pro-war, they just recognize its inevitability) by the Master of the Strange, Stanley Kubrick. If you haven't seen it, well, put it on your list. It has to do with "noocular" annihilation of the world, but Kubrick and his bent staff do things along the way you couldn't imagine. The characters have incredibly imaginative names, but I have to wonder about the sex lives of the guys who came up with the names.

First, there's Gen Jack D. Ripper. No explanation required.
Then there's Gen Buck Turgidson--"Buck" being a young, studly man and "turgid", well, you know
The hero of the film is a British exchange officer named Mandrake and, of course, Mandrake is known as an aphrodaisiac
The Soviet Ambassador is named Alexis Desadeinski--could the Marquis de Sade be far behind?
The US President is named Merkin Muffley. The two words have something in common. Ask me if you don't know.
The Soviet Premier is named Kissov (kiss off).
There are some gratuitous names such as Col. "Bat" Guano and Maj. "King" Kong, but the above ones are the best.

There are even things like a B-52 Pilot reading a Playboy centerfold and later the same woman (who I think really was a centerfold) showing up in Gen Turgidson's bed.

And then the lines:
When Gen Ripper loses his marbles, he calls Wing Commander Mandrake and informs him that the "big one" has started. In an understated US stereotype of British officers Mandrake replies "Oh, damn...are the Russians involved?"
Or when Gen Turgidson catches the Soviet Ambassador taking photos he tackles him prompting the president to declare "You can't fight in here, it's a war room".
Or, "Shoot, a fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff" (You'll have to watch it).
And I don't know why this is my favorite, but it is. You'll have to watch the movie: "That's private property. Ok, I'm gonna get your money for you. But if you don't get the president of the United States on the phone, you know what's gonna happen to you?....You're gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola company".

Friday, April 28, 2006

Murf asked that I keep up-to-date on my little tiff with the county health department.

So far: phone call transferred three times, each time they claimed to have tried to get in touch with someone else who was "not available". I'm awaiting a return call from the Deputy Health Officer.

My question is simple: What authority does the county health department have to make me prove that I had my daughter's eyes examined?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A dispatch from the Libertarian front lines...

A couple of months ago the county sent someone to conduct visual screening throughout the county--even, apparently, private schools. We received a report that the screener had detected possible issues with the Bear's vision.

That set off immediate warning bells with me since I'm nearsighted and I know that myopia (nearsightedness) is a genetically dominant trait. I have watched in absolute amazement and gratitude as Junior approaches 14 with perfect vision. Possibly my "dirty" gene is mitigated by the fact that my wife possesses the vision of an eagle. Nonetheless, we immediately scheduled an appointment with a pediatric opthamologist.

For those not familiar with it, there are optometrists and opthamologists. I routinely go to optometrists, who conduct a vision assessment and prescribe and fit glasses. Opthamologists are MDs who can conduct a full medical examination of the eye. So we went the full route and had her evaluated by an opthamologist, including the infamous eye drops that make daylight look like a nuclear burst.

The opthamologist gave her a clean bill, with the usual disclaimer of "right now". She may someday need glasses, but as we speak, she's good to go. As one who has worn glasses for almost 40 years now, I hope that she never has to.

But nothing is ever good enough for the nanny state that the Democrats have created here.

Today I got a note, sent through the school by the county, demanding that I provide the school (It's a private school that has nothing to do with the county) with proof that I've either had her seen by an "eye professional" (whatever that is) or have scheduled an appointment with an "eye professional".

In retrospect, the first note may have had a piece on the bottom to be filled out documenting the fact that we'd had her evaluated, but I honestly doubt it. My wife has a very good eye for that sort of thing and has none of my "Eff you" response to overreaching authoritarianism. She'd have filled it out and submitted it.

So where we stand now is that the county is demanding that I provide evidence that I have followed up on the findings of some minimally trained troglodyte who conducts mass screenings of children throughout the county. Yes, I've followed up. I had her evaluated by an MD, thank you. And I will never, ever, ever skimp on health care for my children. More to the point, I know what it's like to sit in a classroom and not be able to read the blackboard. That was when my parents realized I needed glasses. I will react immediately should that ever occur with one of my children.

I intend to have a very interesting phone conversation with the county tomorrow. I would never *not* take her to the doctor, but I'll be a stone sonuvabitch if I know how the county can force me to submit proof that I've taken her to someone with the nebulous title of "eye professional".

More to come.

Monday, April 24, 2006

I have got to get one of these hot dog grillers. Not only is it practical and a conversation piece, but it will keep my wife from eating the hot dogs...

Hot Dog Griller Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I should dread this season, and I do, sort of. The phone calls, the scheduling, the ill-disguised anger in their voices when I call managers to tell them there is no umpire for their game, the shuttling back and forth between baseball and softball...

I should hate this time of year. But I don't. It's a time of rebirth, renewal, and the resumption of the game I love just as much as it hates me (sounds like a marriage).

Well, beat the drum and hold the phone - the sun came out today
We're born again, there's new grass on the field
Roundin' third, and headed for home, it's a brown-eyed handsome man
Anyone can understand the way I feel

I guess everyone knows that's John Fogarty's song "Center Field". Rumor has it that the "brown-eyed handsome man" is Jackie Robinson.

Almost got to umpire at Bear's softball game tonight. Got to game time with no umpire in sight and I approached the manager and told her I had been an ASA umpire in the past. She cleared it with the other manager and I was on the field when the league official, who has thus far been invisible, materialized and announced that she needed to find an "unbiased" umpire. As though I'd throw a slow-pitch softball game involving nine-year olds. She dragged another dad away from his daughter's game and he did an ok job. His calls were good, if not done in the "official" manner, but he had to miss his daughter's game. I understand her point in bringing in an "unbiased" umpire, but I was a bit put out by the inference that I might be biased.

The counterpoint to that is Junior League baseball, a highly competetive league composed of 13, 14 and 15-year old boys who have been playing organized baseball for eight to nine years running. I had to cancel a Junior League game tonight when the scheduled umpire called to say he couldn't make it. I gave the managers the option to hold a scrimmage on the field and incredibly, they were able to find a dad in the stands to umpire the game. I'm glad that they did--but contrast that against the much younger girls in the softball league and me, with experience, being turned down because I just might be biased.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I'm sweating schedules, trying to get rosters from managers, looking for slots to reschedule Saturday's rained out games, tracking down managers to deliver paperwork, distributing balls, umpiring games, shuttling between girls' softball and baseball, shoveling and raking dirt on the field, begging people to work the concession stand, placating parents and going to pointless meetings when I could have a night off.

And yet all I keep thinking about is how how much I love this stupid game and how much enjoyment the kids derive from it.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Well, I've seen paintball now...

My son has been bugging me about it for months. Then this past weekend it turns out that one of dainty nine-year old Bear's friends goes frequently with her father and brother. I reluctantly gave in and ended up with half the boys on the road as well as two small girls. Even though paintball has no appeal for me (who wants to play army with paint when you've done it for real with bullets...), I approached the whole scene with as open a mind as I could muster.

Didn't work. I saw the most pathetic bunch of wannabe losers you can possibly imagine.

I was turned off right away by the sight of tens of thousands of paintballs everywhere. I watched people fill their paint hoppers at tables, dump balls all over the place and simply walk away. The ground was also covered by hundreds of nine-volt and AA batteries. Turns out some of the guns have electronics. The people just threw the batteries on the ground. By the end of the day they'd added dozens of water bottles, paintball boxes, bags, sandwich wrappers and so forth to the mess, despite plenty of trash containers.

They discharged the guns compulsively. Inside the maneuver lanes they'd discharge dozens of paintballs while they waited for the signal to go. After being "killed" they'd stop just before leaving the lane and shoot more. Outside of the lanes they'd remove the paint hopper and walk around discharging blasts of CO2. It got to be annoying very quickly.

The action inside the maneuver lanes was incredibly lame. There could not have been one person in the entire park who had the slightest idea of infantry tactics. There was no fire and maneuver--they would simply walk to an obstacle or tree and stand there pouring literally hundreds of rounds in the general direction of the opposing force. They had two-finger triggers they could jiggle their fingers on and approximate the cyclic rate of fire of an MG-43. With a thousand rounds in the air at any one time, people did manage to get hit, but most of them simply had to leave because they ran out of paintballs. No problem there--they just went back to their table, reloaded while dumping paintballs on the ground, then headed off for the next paintfest.

And one last thing, guys: Desert camouflage doesn't work in a deciduous forest.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Rain... Big time.

Opening day didn't happen. First day of the season and I already have two games to reschedule. Sigh.

I can deal with the rescheduling, more to the point everyone anticipates opening day and it just didn't happen.

Things will resume Monday evening, but it's just not the same. Weekday evening games are rushed affairs, with parents charging home from work, kids squeezing in homework, hurried dinners--you name it. Much better had we had a nice opening day when everyone was rested and anticipating the games. The weeknight games can then follow, but a Saturday opening day would have been nice.
Ah, Cynthia McKinney.

One of the most arrogant people ever elected to a body dominated by arrogant people.

She has pulled out the race card time and time and time again over her dappled career. Now that she actually lives in the US (she was living in Jamaica when her duped constituency voted for her on the strength of her father's political career), she takes a chauffeured limousine two blocks to the Rayburn building each morning. Two blocks. When someone (likely a fellow Democrat trying to preserve image) called her on it, her reply was "I'm a queen".

Well, she apparently does view herself as a queen. Last week she burst into the Rayburn Building sans the lapel tag that congresscritters wear to exempt themselves from the metal detector scan that the common falks have to endure--to ensure the safety of the congresscritters. A guard, not recognizing her, chased her down and asked her three times to stop. After the third request, he grabbed her arm and was rewarded for his efforts to keep congresscritters safe by having her slam her cell phone into his chest.

Immediately, Mckinney took her usual tack by saying she was attacked by a guard because she is black. That assertation is every bit as stupid as it would be for me to assert that she attacked the guard because she's black. She assaulted the guard because she's an a$$hole. White, black, purple, doesn't matter. She's an a$$hole, and she'd be one if she was taupe or ecru.

Now things have come to a head and the Capitol Police have filed charges against her for assault. Suddenly she's repentinent and there's no whiff of race in the air. She's simply sorry for what happened, and sorry things had to go so far.

Well, she's the one who did it, she's the one who took things so far--it's kind of late to just brush it off with "I'm sorry". The charges are real--BUT--I'll get down on my knees on the baseball field and kiss my son's coach on his a$$ if Cynthia Mckinney ever actually goes to trial for her assault on a sworn officer. Her position and her interpretation of race will keep her safe from prosecution.
Apparently NASCAR is annoyed by a proposed NBC television show. The "reality" show will seek to explore American prejudices against Arabs and Islamics by placing them in venues NBC is sure will be hostile to them and then taping the results. NASCAR is rightfully hacked off at being identified as a venue sure to be hostile to Arabs and Islamics.

Before you say, "well it's only fair and NASCAR fans are overwhelmingly white", think about what a setup this is. And think how NASCAR has suddenly become the symbol of Republicans in the US. Just a few years ago the Republican party was the "party of the elite" and it was, to some, symbolized by captains of industry and cigar-smoking young movers and shakers. It was the party of the rich. With the election of George Bush, the Democrats moved to make it the party of stretch pants and teased hair, Wal-Mart and NASCAR. It will remain a modern miracle how Republicans went overnight from being rich and elite to being Wal-Mart shopping NASCAR fans.

I have a huge suggestion for NBC---rather than look in every crack and crevice for prejudices against Arabs and Islam in this country, why not just go to the middle east and soak up their intense, unhidden hatred for Westerners and anyone else who doesn't subscribe to Islam?
Baseball looms large again, so the baseball posts will resume.

Actually, we're already a week into girls' softball season as well, so I'll have posts about that, too.

This evening I went to the field to set the pitcher's rubber in place. A team started practice while I was lining things up and I hoped that they might offer to help. Instead, they started practice all around me while I strung lines from home plate to the pitchers' mound and the manager actually had the temerity to complain to me about the amount of dirt on the mound while one of his coaches batted balls past me. I have some history with that particular manager and just ignored him (the alternative would have been telling him to get stuffed. He's a 400+ lb., 5' 5" tall jerk with red hair and a beard who looks exactly like a garden gnome. I detest him for good reason {he screwed me hard one day last year} but I figure it's no way to start off a new season). I finally got hacked off and left the field with the rubber barely in place. I had to take a wheelbarrow to another field, anyway.

I got back after practice, and the team had ignored the fact that the rubber was only half in place and had stomped on it until one of the anchoring spikes migrated upward through the rubber, ruining it.

I got the last new rubber and dug the site out, put new clay in it, leveled it out and emplaced the new rubber. I hope garden gnome notices it and appreciates it, but I suspect that's waaaay too much to ask for.

On the other side, the Bear has a softball game at 0900. Granddad is coming up for it, so the Bear is psyched. Her games are a bit frenetic--nine-year old girls chasing after balls, but their team spirit and fortitude can't be matched. I get a huge charge out of their games.

Baseball kicks off at 1200. I'll be there by 1130 to hand out balls, and to make sure that the flag gets raised. I'm kind of funny about that. There will be a flag flying over the field as we play ball.

Got a call tonight asking me to umpire two games as well. I didn't return the call as it came in after 10:00 and I was busy with kids, but I'll return it tomorrow. I feel badly for the guy--he's doing the same job I had last year and I know first hand how horrible the job is. I really hadn't planned on being an umpire this year since I'm the junior/senior league commissioner, but I'm feeling pulled to fill in. I will, though, use one tactic I learned from an umpire last summer. He'd line the coaches up and read the riot act to them ending with "You get two warnings, and this was the first one".

It's gonna be a good, fun season. Baseball and softball.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

This is the first year that the Bear has played ball, so it's my first year to evaluate her league. So far--two thumbs up.

Her coaches are great. Instructive, somewhat demanding--a perfect mix. Even the one coach who comes across as loud and demanding is actually a terrific guy who will work with any of the girls at any level. Simply put, the three coaches on the team are great people who want to see the girls succeed. They lost tonight--big time. But not one of the coaches dwelled on that. They emphasized the positive aspects of the game. And, truth be told, there were a lot of positive aspects. Despite losing, they played a good game. In the parlance, they may have been beaten, but they didn't beat themselves. That is to say, they lost the game to a team that outscored them, but they didn't lose simply because they were inept at the game.
Opening day of softball. The Bear prepares to send that ball on the ride of its life.

Note the pink helmet with ponytail hole...

Bear Posted by Picasa
Barb posted a reply that gave me some thought about the UN. Nothing new, mind you, just old thoughts brought back to the surface.

How many here remember the League of Nations? The LoN was established after the First World War exactly along the lines of the present UN. The problem was, nobody took the LoN seriously. Nobody gave a damn what it said. Having no military force, it utterly lacked teeth to enforce anything. Civilized nations continued to be civilized and uncivilized nations thumbed their noses at the LoN. It lasted maybe 15 years, if that long.

So, given the present state of the UN, somebody please tell me just how it differs from the League of Nations. I'll forgive minor spelling and punctuation errors, but gross misrepresentations of politics and personalities will be penalized.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I've been quiet for a while. I've seen the news, but so has everyone else and by the time I sit down at the computer I'm left wondering what I can add that hasn't already been covered a thousand times. But nonetheless, there are things to address.

WMDs. We've heard that expression countless times now. President Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq based on two justifications: Their possession of WMDs (and inclination to use them) and links to al-Quaida. Despite the protestations to the contrary of such luminaries as Teddy "can I take your daughter for a drive" Kennedy, we know g*dd*mn well Saddam had WMDs. He used poison gas liberally in the war with Iran, then he killed tens of thousands of Kurds with poison gas, which is--well, was--considered a WMD. I say "was" because once Teddy, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer et al realized that recognizing gas as a WMD would stymie their "I hate Bush" crusade, they decided to raise the bar. At this point I think we'd have to witness an Iraqi-built Death Star before Teddy and Nancy would admit that they might just possess WMDs.

But facts are facts. We KNOW he had gas, which until the Democrats lost their majority was considered a WMD. And it gets better. Recently translated and declassified documents indicate that Iraq did, indeed, have a continuing WMD program. Not only that, but ties to al-Quaida. And just as I suspected (because I pay attention to people smarter than me), the weapons were shipped to Syria. I'm not stupid enough to hold my breath to see if Teddy wants to eat any crow, but I'll keep it in mind. I'm also curious to see if France, which pledged support should we uncover evidence of WMDs, has anything to say. Peut-être nous avons été confondus...

My guess is nobody will admit they might have been mistaken. Teddy Kennedy is a bloated, self-righteous horse's a$$ who killed a woman and got away with it, yet somehow manages to look himself in the mirror every morning while he shaves. Robert Byrd--the “soul of the Senate”-- is an unreconstructed Klansman who to this day thinks it's acceptable to call people n**gers. And these are two of the senior Democrat senators, if not the two senior Democrats. France as a country pledged to contribute to efforts in Iraq as long as we found evidence of WMDs. Well, we found evidence. Hello, France--Là où êtes vous maintenant? All of the above are so invested in their denials and denunciations of the war that none can afford at this point to make good on their promise of support once their original standards have been met. Can you imagine the fallout if Ladykiller Kennedy would announce to the Massholes who keep electing him that he was wrong, and there truly is some justification for the invasion of Iraq? But, “Wrong” isn't part of Teddy's lexicon. If it were, he'd have admitted long ago that he was wrong that night that he killed Mary Jo Kopechne.

By the way, if you think I need to lighten up on on my criticism of Teddy, try again. It's a matter of record that he killed a girl and swam back to his hotel room to catch a night's sleep before he even bothered to report the accident. He then used his father's connections to get away with it. A police diver testified that given the attitude of the auto and her body position, Mary Jo likely survived quite some time after the crash—maybe even while Teddy was back at his hotel room and in the shower...And now, with 44 years under his belt, he's considered by some to be one of the most august members of our most deliberative body. Congratulations, Massachusetts. I believe in redemption, but Teddy has done nothing to redeem himself. Even post-accident, he has a history of sordid behavior.

Point is, we have discovered evidence that Saddam had a WMD program in place, beyond even the chemicals he was already using. Most likely, we already knew that through other means before the war. Even the most clueless president (oh, say, Billy Clinton for the sake of argument) has at hand a very sophisticated, professional intelligence network. So Bush didn't just charge into Iraq—he had information. And it's pretty unlikely he would set himself up by ordering the invasion with no justification, knowing that sooner or later the facts would be sussed and he'd be labeled a villain.

Friday, March 17, 2006

This one's for NOTR:

Firefox Posted by Picasa
What was it Ward Churchill said? Something about chickens coming home to roost?

And so they have:

Jane F**da's 1972 trip to North Vietnam is haunting her again. The Georgia Senate on Thursday nearly unanimously defeated a resolution that would have honored the actress' charity work in the state.

Can't say I feel in the least sorry for her.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

There's just a certain "unthinking-ness" on the left. They exist on platitudes and prepackaged assumptions. Anything Bush does is wrong and if they don't know why, they'll invent a reason.

Some years ago a couple moved into a house out on the main road. I was incredibly unimpressed with them at our initial meeting, so I've not gone out of my way to get to know them. They claim to train race horses--I suspect they probably muck out the stables. Their property abuts ours in the back and they maintain an amazing collection of animals on their property. Three steers, four horses, 29 goats and an indeterminate number of chickens, dogs and rabbits. They don't milk or eat any of the animals--they simply collect them.

Saturday we were working in the yard and a number of people walked into the goat pen. For some reason my wife felt obligated to go down and have a neighborly chat. I stayed away for a while, then finally broke down and joined her. At that point most of the people (who apparently were boarding an animal there for a 4H project) departed, leaving just the woman who lived there. We talked for a bit and I was beginning to feel guilty about having written her off as a moron when she started on politics.

Utterly clueless, she started ranting about the now failed deal to have a UAE-based firm administer US ports. She shouted "How could Bush not have known it was an Arab firm? What an idiot". At that point I declared my arthritic knee was bothering me and headed for the house.

Bush knew damn well the company was from the UAE. Hell, he pushed the whole idea. Now, I disagree with him on it, but I can offer cogent reasons for my disagreement--not an utterly fabricated reason just because I hate Bush, ergo everything he does is wrong.

I disagree because handing control of ports also means handing over knowlege of security procedures and response capabilities to a firm that more than likely will be populated with Islamists, or at least people sympathetic to Islamists. But that's too much for people of her intellect to grasp. She can't even wrap her mind around the fact that Bush was fully aware of where the company is based. She justs hates Bush, and that makes it so.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Friday was a bad day.

A Marine from here was killed in Iraq last week. He was a member of the parish where the kids go to school, so funeral services were held there. A number of children from the school were chosen to line the route of departure (on the way to the cemetary) with flags--it was a class act.

I thought long and hard about attending the funeral mass, but finally decided that since I didn't know anyone in the family I'd almost be something like a spectator. While I wanted to pay my respects, I didn't want to be some guy nobody knew, lurking on the fringes.

Then I thought about the Fred Phelps crowd and the Patriot Guard Riders. Fred Phelps, for those who don't know, is a pathetic lunatic who styles himself as a Calvinist minister. He claims that since the US military doesn't actively persecute gays it is an evil institution. He somehow feels he has the authority to speak on God's behalf and claims "God hates fags". His mind is so twisted that he feels he has to attend each and every military funeral to compound the hurt that parents, relatives, spouses and children are feeling by holding a little protest rally attended by signs bearing messages such as his signature "God hates fags" as well as even more hurtful signs thanking God for smiting US troops, and in the case of Catholic funerals, signs declaring that the pope burns in hell. Incredibly, he has followers. Maybe not so surprising as even Charlie Manson and Jimmy Jones had followers. For the record, Phelps, a lawyer, was tossed out of West Point and has been disbarred, with the Kansas Supreme Court noting that he has "little regard for the ethics of the profession".

The Patriot Guard Riders, on the other hand, formed up specifically to counter Phelps and his pathetic followers. It's a motorcycle-based outfit, but they won't turn anyone down. They exist specifically to screen funeral-goers from the Phelps lunatics, and often escort the funeral procession on their bikes. A true class outfit, but it's a crazy world when people have to band together to protect mourners from hateful cretins.

Well, I decided that the Phelps crew wouldn't even be able to find this town on a map, and since I didn't want to be relegated to a spectator's role, I skipped the funeral mass (while delivering paperwork and a huge deposit to the school Snakeeater, Jr. has chosen to attend).

Got home to find out that Phelps' morons do have their sources. Apparently some of them actually can read. My son related to me that they were glued to the window at school watching protestors at the funeral. I hit the ceiling so hard that my wife actually hid newspapers from me. Those G*dda*m freaks actually hit our town and protested at that young man's funeral.

I spent Friday evening boiling and kicking myself for not attending the funeral. It wasn't a good night. I became a bit more philosophical today, realizing that had I attended the funeral there WOULD have been an incident, and I'd have spent the night in jail trying to figure out how to pick up the soap, all on the account of some worthless, hateful prick. The Riders are a class act, screening the mouners from the Phelps crowd. I'd most likely have failed their expectations and decked one of the morons.

As it was, the school principal went out and informed the cretins that they were on private property and not welcome. Police were then called. My son claims that some billy club action and at least one pepper spraying ensued. Unfortunately, he's given to exaggeration, but in this case I truly hope he was accurate.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Army has traditionally named helicopters after American Indian tribes. Off hand I can think of Iroquois, Chinook, Kiowa, and Apache. Some exceptions would be the Cobra, Skycrane and Little Bird. Even some munitions are named after American Indian tribes, such as the Zuni rocket.

NOTR reports that the new armed reconnaissance helicopter is slated to be named Arapaho, and makes an amusing (and, in my opinion, entirely accurate) observation on what the troops will likely refer to it as.
I always enjoy photos, videos, etc. of troops cutting up and having fun. Reminds me of the good old days and shows the clueless attack dogs of the left that military personnel aren't just "serial killers", but real live people with intellects.

Got the following link from my brother-in-law. Mardi Gras in Iraq--who'd have thunk it? The troops are from the 256th Infantry Brigade, LA National Guard serving as part of the 42nd Infantry Division, NY National Guard.