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April 30, 2005

More Hawaii Women « Stuff Important to Me »

More pictures of Hawaii women below the fold. These are from my near-prosumer-level camera, so the results are better.

I've found the secret to being able to take pictures is confidence arising from a good cover story. I've decided that I am trying to figure out how to use various functions of the camera, if anyone asks. Having a plausible story now, I can take pictures without feeling like a perv, and so I don't act furtive, and so no one seems to think a think about it now.

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Posted by Nathan at 01:06 PM | Comments (5)
More on Boomer Grigsby « Kansas City Chiefs »

How you can not admire a guy who says things like this:

I can’t guarantee everybody I’m going to be a Pro Bowler, or even be that great of a player, but I know I’ll be a 250-pound crazy white boy running down the field on kickoffs.”

At the very least, he's be an Quotable All-Pro. I hope he shows enough ability to stay on the team for a long time.

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Posted by Nathan at 12:49 PM | Comments (1)

April 29, 2005

Pro-Choice Advocates are Wrong « Social Issues »

This article demonstrates why. The story makes me feel physically ill.

After Erica's doctor's visit a week earlier, Jerry said, she had decided she didn't want to be pregnant anymore. She'd heard that if someone stood on a pregnant woman's stomach, you could abort the babies. For days, she'd asked Jerry to do it. He didn't want to, but ultimately he gave in.

Back in the hospital, Erica did two things: She admitted that Jerry had hit her several times, and she confirmed Jerry's story about stepping on her stomach. Under a state law passed in 2003, she had just implicated her boyfriend in two counts of capital murder. Under that same law, she was guilty of nothing, since a mother has the right to end her pregnancy.

Now, that's Jerry's testimony/confession. It may turn out that Erica didn't ask him to do it, that he forced it on her.

But the facts are unassailable: If a woman begs a man to hurt her enough to cause a miscarriage, he faces prison for murder; she wouldn't even be charged.

How is this moral? How is this even remotely close to justice?

What does this imply about doctors?

What follows is harsh. Don't read if you have an emotional attachment to a pro-choice stance.

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Posted by Nathan at 02:08 PM | Comments (15)
Stupid Kids' Shows « Social Issues »

Okay, everyone hates Caillou. That's just about a given.

But Bear in the Big Blue House has been pretty reliably good, in my opinion. Sure, there's a little social-liberalistic ideology indoctrination present, but you get that in everything these days, and Bear had been pretty good in my experience.

Then yesterday morning, Tutter saw a show about a hero, and then started annoying everyone trying to save them.

So instead of playing along with Tutter and encouraging his imagination, everyone made him feel kinda bad about it. When Tutter finally gave up in frustration, saying, "I'll never be a hero," Bear's solution was to say, "You may not be a hero, but you are something no one else can be: Tutter! And that's pretty special."


Hasn't the Empty Self-Esteem movement already been totally discredited????

Why didn't the writers have Bear talk about the jobs society needs that you can be a hero, like policeman or military...or if that is too icky for social engineers, paramedics, doctors, or firemen? Or talk about the everyday heroism of teachers and contributers to PBS, at least.

Best would be for Bear (and any parent who finds himself in the situation) to talk about being a hero by being brave enough to stand up to peer pressure, or being brave enough to not fight back against siblings, or having the courage to do something his parents wanted him to do even when he doesn't want to, like eating vegetables or taking a bath!

At the very least, Bear could have said, "You may not be able to save anyone from a dragon, Tutter, but you make me very happy when you clean up your room without me having to tell you, when you say please and thank you to people, when you [engage in behavior the adult wants the child to increase], and that's pretty cool and special.

Self-Esteem should come from a sense of accomplishment, not being. That's not a news-flash, I why don't the writers of Bear in the Big Blue House know that?!??! Morons.

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Posted by Nathan at 09:52 AM | Comments (4)

April 28, 2005

Dale's Take on the President's Talk « Link O' Admiration »

I enjoyed it, at least.

He made it sound pretty good. Although, I gotta tell ya, with all the 'gotta's, 'making progress's, and other style renditions Dale through in there, it really seemed like W was channeling the elder Bush. I kept expecting him to transcribe, "Not Gonna Do It" and "Wouldn't be prudent at this juncture".

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Posted by Nathan at 08:25 PM | Comments (0)
These Aren't the Stories You Are Looking For « Blogging »

I really hate it when I see a headline that looks like it might lead to an article worth linking and discussing to lend support to a point I want to make, but then it turns out to be less-than useful.

In the first case, HIV alert over teenage sex craze looked like a chance to make a point about our society...except it was about London's society. Oh, well. It is still a scary point for the British.

And the second one I saw looked like it could help me to talk a little bit about the the secular Left's recent demonization campaign against religion. With a title like "The secular Left is demonizing conservative Christians", you'd think it was exactly what I was looking for. Unfortunately, it was more of a unnecessarily-dry restatement of things already said by others. Preaching to the choir, as it were.

Blah. Blogging angst besets me. At least I got in a few good football pieces first.

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Posted by Nathan at 01:02 PM | Comments (4)
The Chiefs' WR Corps « Kansas City Chiefs »

The only real objection I have to the Rand article I linked in the previous piece is when he says the Chiefs have done little/nothing to groom replacements for Eddie Kennison and Johnny Morton.

Okay, Dante Hall isn't the answer. His best talent is returning kicks. He can score from anywhere, yes, but the percentage of success when attempting to do so from the WR position just isn't worth the attendant drop-off in his return game. So he should be used sparingly as a WR.

But aside from Hall, KC has:
-Kris Wilson. Technically a tight end, he is fast for his size and has extremely good hands. With Tony Gonzales on the field, one of the functions of KC's WRs are to be credible-enough threats that the defense can't double/triple team Tony on every play. Kris Wilson is good enough to do this, especially since he is also a credible blocker, as is Tony Gonzales. A formation with Gonzales, Wilson, and Dunn plus any semi-fast WR is going to give a defensive coordinator headaches, if not nightmares. He should be fully recovered from his broken leg by mini-camp, much less training camp.

-Mark Boerigter. He had a serious knee injury and might not be absolutely 100% at the start of training camp, or even by the start of the season. Other than that, though, he's tall, strong, and deceptively fast. There should be no reason he can't supplant either Morton or Kennison at either WR spot, and is still young enough that there is still room for improvement. He should be starting-caliber for the next several years, although that must be caveated with the observation that he hasn't yet demonstrated starter-level ability through a full season yet.

-Samie Parker. He's got track-star speed, but football-player hands and moves. From what he did late in the season, it seems clear that he didn't make a significant impact earlier was due to Oregon State's late class schedule that prevented him from getting the benefit of rookie mini camp, followed by a hamstring injury that kept him from getting any real work during training camp. When he did get on the field, he made things happen. He's in his 2nd year. If he plays a full season like he did the last few games, he could replace Kennison without any drop-off.

-Chris Horn. He's a lightly-regarded player from a small college. But he gets better every year and gets enough separation to make catches and run with it well once he's got the rock. He made one excellent play or tough catch in each of the games that he's gotten on the field. He'll probably never be better than a #3 receiver...but such a receiver gets significant playing time in Vermeil/Saunder's offense. This is a Ricky Proehl-type player, and Proehl won a few games for his teams, didn't he?

-Richard Smith. An undrafted RFA last year, he excelled in the pre-season, but couldn't do the same thing during the regular season. Then again, lots of rookies don't excel in the NFL, do they? I still think this guy has some potential to start within a few years. Even if he doesn't improve to that level, he should be a strong #3 or #4 receiver for several years.

-Craphonso Thorpe. (All the info in this paragraph is based on reading reports about his college career; I must disclose that I don't pay attention to college football, so I had never heard of him, nor have I ever seen him play, so take this review as a 3rd-hand recoupnting) An excellent WR his junior year in college, he broke both bones in his lower leg in the final game of that season. He had a sub-par senior season. It might be because his leg hadn't totally recovered. One report I saw said that his production dropped off because the quality of his QB dropped off, which is a good point. How can you catch a ball that isn't thrown to you, or isn't catchable? The reports I've seen says he's regained his track-star speed; and everyone seems to agree he's got good hands and runs decent routes. Most revealing is that he performed quite well against 3 top college CBs, two of which were the top 2 drafted, and the 3rd which was drafted late in the 1st round. He had 5 catches against each of them, which isn't bad for college. He may not contribute as a rookie, but he has the tools and abilities to be starter-quality by next year.

That's five WRs good enough to play anywhere from a #1 to #4 receiver. That doesn't even include if KC signs Az-Zahir Hakeem is signed as a FA or Jerys MacIntyre improves enough to make the team (he was drafted as a project, then was hampered by injuries).

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Posted by Nathan at 12:46 PM | Comments (0)
The Chief's Chances This Upcoming Season « Kansas City Chiefs »

Check out this article for tangential references.

Free agents don't always work out. People get old. Johnny Morton could get cut for salary cap reasons. Priest Holmes' body might finally give up/out. Derrick Johnson might not perform as well at the NFL level.

So, yeah, there are some caveats to what follows.

However, I can't imagine this year not being awesome for Chiefs' fans. We already had an offense that could score on anyone. The biggest problem was the shooting matches we'd have to get in because we also couldn't stop anyone from scoring. Or stop long drives.

But the defensive talent we've acquired this off-season is impressive, to say the least.

If Jared Allen improves on last season's performance (as a 2nd-year player should), if Junior Siavii continues to improve (as a 2nd-year player should), if Ryan Sims plays to his potential, if Derrick Johnson is half as disruptive to opposing offenses as he was in college, if Kendrell Bell stays healthy, if Kavika Mitchell builds on his improvement in the final few games last year and is ready to start at the MLB position, if Warfield's ascension to starting-caliber cornerback wasn't temporary (and he should be even better with a vastly-improved supporting cast), if Patrick Surtain has no lingering problems with his knee and continues making interceptions at his historic rate, if Sammy Knight continues to make big hits and cause fumbles at his historic rate, if Jerome Woods' work with a speed coach pays off and/or Greg Wesley returns to his rookie and 2nd-year level of highlight-reel hits, if Willie Roaf, Will Shields, and Priest Holmes still have at least one year of Pro-bowl performance in them, if Trent Green doesn't have a slump, if Kris Wilson and Mark Boerigter have fully recovered from last year's preseason injuries without any loss of speed or addition of rustiness (meaning they play as well as they did last preseason), if Samie Parker shows the starting-caliber performance he demonstrated at the end of last year is no fluke, if Craphonso Thorpe has now fully recovered from his broken leg and shows his sub-par senior season was because he was working with sub-par college QBs (by performing excellently with an excellent QB in Trent Green), if Boomer Grigsby revitalizes the kicking coverage team, if Dante Hall gets to focus on the return game and takes advantage of the additions to the kick protection team, if Johnny Morton restructures his contract and continues to move the chains on 3rd down like he did last year (little known fact, but Morton actually was among the NFL leaders for 3rd-down catches resulting in first downs...), and if the coaches teach the players, effectively integrate the new talent into the team, and don't make extremely bad play calls...

Well, if all that happens (and it won't, but if), then Kansas City will have one of the best all-time seasons.

If most of them happen, we should be able to win the Super Bowl.

But none of this projection means anything until we actually start playing game s that count, of course. Last year looked pretty good, too, until injuries devastated our WR corps, directly leading to three losses early in the season. And the defense's failure to progress meant we wouldn't have made it out of the first round of the playoffs last year even if we had won those close games that gave us a losing season.

But I feel a great deal of excitement about this year. Either the players we got in the draft or the players we got in free agency would be grounds for optimism and hope...having both sets of great acquisitions is grounds for great excitement.

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Posted by Nathan at 12:10 PM | Comments (4)
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April 27, 2005

Blowing My Own Horn « Stuff Important to Me »

You know, I can't really believe this didn't get more attention at the time.

I guess few of my regular readers are Mentos fans...?

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Posted by Nathan at 08:48 PM | Comments (0)
Fun With Google Searches « Blogging »

Interestingly, I am the #1 post on a Google Search for 'malibu ls v6 review'. How cool is that?

And for some reason, I've been getting lots of searches on all engines for variations on "mentos bird commercial", a full 48% of search hits leading to my site. What gives?

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Posted by Nathan at 08:42 PM | Comments (17)
Bad Pics of Hawaii Females « Stuff Important to Me »

Please note: attractive. Not necessarily gorgeous or young. Okay?

Ground rules laid down, some initial attempts are below the fold:

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Posted by Nathan at 06:34 PM | Comments (5)

Has anyone ever avoided a sexual harassment charge by claiming to be gay? As in, "I don't know how she got the impression I was referring to her body, because I'm gay and don't care how she looks!"

Then again, since homosexuals can suddenly discover they have been gay all their life, could becoming gay after the harassment took place but before the investigation be a defense? As in, "It may have seemed like sexual harassment at the time, but now that I realize I'm gay and always have been, prosecution for that would not only be redundant, but a hate crime in and of itself by a heterosexual slandering a homosexual."

Ah, the interesting things that happen when you start chaining ideological pronouncements together.

Other thoughts:

How many sexual harassment charges have been made by women against women? How about by men against men?

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Posted by Nathan at 06:10 PM | Comments (0)
KC's Boomer « Kansas City Chiefs »

Joe Posnanski is absolutely correct: KC Chiefs fans are going to love this guy!


"Before now, I played football for fun," said Grigsby. "Now it is a game which can take care of me. I'd be happy to play 10 years on special teams if that is what it takes. Of course, I have a few more goals than that."

And another:

A lot of people thought [Derrick Johnson] was the best linebacker in the draft," Grigsby said. "I'm pretty happy that I'll get a chance to play with him."

And another:

"They told me they have a lot of ambitions for me to be a big contributor on special teams. They have ambitions of me being a special teams captain," Grigsby said. "I have to earn that title and perform, but I'm happy they have confidence in me. How exciting will it be to block for (standout kick returner) Dante Hall?"

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Posted by Nathan at 12:12 AM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2005

News Flash: Sometimes I Can Be Stupid « Stuff Important to Me »

Yeah, I know: the mind boggles, eh?

What I'm speaking of, specifically, is that I went ahead and purchased a second laptop.

Why? Why, why, WHY?

That's a good question. I also have a good answer.

I'm stuck in a hotel room right now with a 5-year-old son. At the time I decided to make the purchase, I didn't know when that situation might come to a close; possibly up to 30 days.

The computer is a significant tool in my household. Blogging, contact with important friends/family, listening to music, playing games. Not only were my son and I both wanting to use the laptop at the same time, his favorite game wouldn't run on my laptop.

I debated with myself for about a day: should I buy a really good laptop with decent memory (100GB/512MB), DVD-burner, 4+GHz processor? Or a good desktop with 200GB, video card (for hard-core gaming), Media-card reader (useful with my camera), DVD-burner...? Or just a cheap laptop so I can get online at the same time my son uses my old laptop?

I bought my Dell last year. 40GB Hard Drive, DVDplayer (not burner), CD burner, 2.2GHz Celeron processor, 256MB RAM, total of $750. But I bought the cheap battery and only get about 45 minutes (or less!) when not plugged in. That makes it useless on airplanes, and limits its usefulness at coffee shops. It also gets really hot. Not to mention the afore-mentioned problem of not playing Brady's favorite game (Rogue Squadron 3D). Wireless internet through a PCMCIA card.

If I bought the better laptop, well, it would be more expensive, first of all. And while it might be nice to have the DVD burner, I have a burner on my desktop that's currently in storage...I don't have any DVDs to burn at this point, so it would kind of be a waste of money. If the desktop burner breaks, I could replace it for only about $100 or so... The battery life wouldn't go past 2 hours...unless I get a Centrino. But the salesman said that the Centrino gets most of its extended battery life by being a weak/slow processor.

If I bought the desktop, well, I'd have spent close to $1000 and still not solved my 45-minute-max battery-life problem. Not to mention paying for the unnecessary DVD burner. On the other hand, it would handle Brady's game, guaranteed.

So I decided to go with a Toshiba. It had a nice, bright 15" screen, 80GB harddrive, internal wireless internet capability, but just a 1.3GHz Celeron processor and 256MB RAM, Lithium battery (for 2 hours battery life). I'd also heard that Toshiba has the highest owner satisfaction. DVD-ROM and CD Burner. All for $599.

Well, after using it for a week, I can see why. And even though the laptop wasn't strictly necessary, I'm glad I got it.

The wireless function works better than the PCMCIA on my other laptop. The keyboard is smooth and easy to type. The touchpad is smoother and more accurate. The screen can be seen in sunlight more easily. Brady's favorite game works fine on it. It's got some nice little programs by Toshiba that help you optimize it for your preferences. Both Brady and I can keep busy and non-bored at the same time. It was absolutely worth it.

Like I said, I can be stupid sometimes. This time it seems to be sticking.

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Posted by Nathan at 08:22 PM | Comments (2)
Aphorism O' The Day « Aphorisms »
Men have become the tools of their tools.

---Henry David Thoreau*

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Posted by Nathan at 07:32 PM | Comments (0)
Sen. Durbin on the "Nuclear Option" « Politics As Usual »
It will be a different Senate. Senators will be at their desks more, on the floor more, in session more. The key legislation for the defense of America and our troops and important appropriations bills will still pass, but the agenda of the Senate and the procedure of the Senate will change.

He says this like it's a bad thing. Why is it unfortunate to have Senators actually present and earning the money they get for being elected? We all remember how many votes Sen. Kerry missed over the last two years, don't we?

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Posted by Nathan at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)
Pictures of Pretty Girls in Hawaii (UPDATED) « Social Issues »

To tell the truth, I'm a little uncomfortable taking pictures without permission; it is rather rude to take someone's picture without their permission, after all.

I've managed to capture a few snapshots. Mostly distant shots with telephoto. I've seen another half-dozen girls today here in Starbucks...but the place is a little too small to take a picture without everyone noticing.

I did screw my courage to the sticking point to ask one girl if I could take her picture...but I couldn't get her attention and I didn't want to get up and leave my computer to go ask her... My loss is, well, your loss, I guess.

Within the next few weeks I'll go hang out at the University and snap the shutter like crazy. That should have some good results. Until then, I'll continue my surreptitious shutterbugging until I have enough decent ones to put up a gallery...

UPDATE: The quality may be a little low, but I'm rediscovering the usefulness of a camera phone for this sort of mission. And let me emphasize, I'm not doing this for me, I'm doing it for you. In other words, to increase my hit total as much as possible. I'm going to need a cyanide pill for if I'm caught...but if you don't mind, I think I'd like to try out the placebo version?

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Posted by Nathan at 11:55 AM | Comments (5)
The Other Nuclear Option « Social Issues »

Yep, global warming is caused by environmental activism.

Emphasis mine, read the whole thing.

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Posted by Nathan at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)
Apparently, the Sith are Democrats Consummate Politicians « Politics As Usual »

This fits everything I've seen...

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Posted by Nathan at 09:40 AM | Comments (0)
KC's Next FA Acquisition? « Kansas City Chiefs »

I see Detroit released Az-Zahir Hakim.

50/50 he signs with the Chiefs.

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Posted by Nathan at 02:41 AM | Comments (1)
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Aphorism O' The Day « Aphorisms »
Biology is the only science in which multiplication means the same thing as division.

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Posted by Nathan at 12:38 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2005

New Car X « Car Issues »

I picked up my Suzuki Verona S from the shipping arrival center today. Whew! It's nice to get my car back.

I wondered if I had been building it up in my mind in the 2+ weeks since I last drove it, perhaps so much that the actual car couldn't match up to how good I was mistakenly "remembering" it was.

That turned out to not be the case. My Verona is still just plain a fun car to drive. In comparison to the 2005 Chevy Malibu LS V6, the strengths of my 2004 Suzuki Verona S are:

The driver's seat is far more comfortable.
It may not have as much power as the Malibu when you floor it...but the power curve on the Verona is much more smooth and evenly distributed. No matter what speed I'm going, a slight extra touch of the pedal brings a smooth surge of power to do whatever I want.
The sound system is better.
The steering is more precise and controllable.

The ultimate in luxury in US-style vehicles is to 'float like a cloud, not feeling the road...', right? The ultimate luxury in European-style luxury is to feel every aspect of the road so as to facilitate control at extremely high speeds, like on the autobahn. Well, just like in the debate between economical-but-rough/shrill 4-cyls and powerful-but-noisy/wasteful V-6s (in which Suzuki chose a third option: 4-cyl-sized L6 for smoothness), Suzuki chose a 3rd option for luxury: feeling the road well enough for good control, but isolated from the negative aspects of the road. In other words, bumps and noise are eliminated, but you still feel exactly what the car and the road are doing.

In the Verona, every driver input results in a proportionate car response. That's how the Verona's steering seems to know where I want to go before I do, how it settles down in a track when turning, why I was frustrated with having to force the Malibu to give me its available power...

I've never driven a BMW. To me, the Suzuki Verona truly defines the ultimate driving machine. The marathon trip I took last month rather backs that up. I see no reason to put that much money into a BMW when I can have this nice of a car for this little money.

When I purchase my next car in 5-7 years, I will be sure to try out a BMW. I'm sure it will have more power and more comfort than any Suzuki's being offered. But $20k-worth of extra luxury? I sincerely doubt that is even possible.

One last note about the Malibu: As I was going to return the vehicle, I noted that the black rubber (plastic?) strip that covers the passenger-side roof/body seam weld was coming off. This car has less than 2000 miles on it and cost the rental company right around $20k, or maybe just slightly less. And the quality is so bad its already coming apart just weeks after they bought it.

For shame, GM!

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Posted by Nathan at 05:49 PM | Comments (0)
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Guess They Chose a Bad Day To Stop Taking Illegal Drugs! (UPDATED) « Fun With News Headlines »

Japan Eyes Speed in Train Derail Probe

UPDATE: I guess Mr. Taranto didn't like/get it.

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Posted by Nathan at 05:16 PM | Comments (0)
Children in a World of Adult Sexuality (EDITED TO CORRECT ERRORS) « Social Issues »

There is a perspective you get from being a parent that it is very hard for a single person to understand. It's the understanding that you have a child whose prime motivation is to learn about life. Everything is new to a child, and perspective and context make a huge difference in how incidents and information impact.

The parent, the adult, can try to give the child the proper context in which to interpret what they see and hear. But a parent cannot put the child in a box and filter everything. And the world is far more obscene, profane, and carnal than it was even just 15 years ago.

All you adults reading this, especially South Park Republicans and Deadwood Democrats, do you realize you can watch your movies with adult situations, sexuality, and foul language without it affecting you because you were more protected when you were a child. And by insisting that no one touch or regulate your entertainment on "pay" TV (which is now the default in most homes, reaching more households than broadcast TV ever did in the 70s), you are eliminating that protection for your kids.

Michelle Malkin points to an excerpt from a book by a former writer for the sex industry who finally realizes this point.

Excerpt of the excerpt:

In today's media climate, whether we want it or not, we are inundated, saturated, beaten over the head with sex. Television, our national public commons, has an ever-mounting percentage of explicit sexual content on cable, shading down to the mere leering double entrendre and snickering innuendo of broadcast sitcoms. It's difficult to find a program that doesn't reference sex. It's egregious, it's out of control, it's too much. Media, advertising art, and entertainment constantly shove images at me that I am just not interested in seeing.

The average child in America puts in a full workweek, forty hours, consuming media. That means our kids are getting a snootful of this stuff, all day every day, week in and week out.

The creators of South Park find it hypocritical that we are so concerned about children being exposed to sex and bad language but don't care about kids being exposed to violent themes in movies.

Well, that's a gross oversimplification. First, parents do object to gratuitous violence, like that in, say, Grand Theft Auto. Then people say being exposed to violence doesn't necessarily make kids violent.

In all fairness, I think there is a point there. Context does make a difference. I was a little worried when my son started watching the Power Rangers, because so many parents have expressed concern that it teaches kids to hit. But I watched it a few times with them and grew less concerned. Violence in that show is always used to help, protect, and defend; not to hurt, manipulate, or destroy. And so we actually use the Power Rangers quite a bit as object lessons in having courage and persistence in dealing with difficulties, i.e., "Okay, so you fell down on your bike. Don't you think it hurts when the White Power Ranger gets kicked in the face? But he gets up and tries again, right?" This actually is working quite well, by the way. The Power Rangers aren't lessons in violence, but in courage.

And violence can, and is portrayed in different ways. Saving Private Ryan is violent, yes. So are Jackie Chan movies. So is the movie The Magnificent Seven. But violence is portrayed differently in all three, and really not glorified as violence itself, but violence in relation to something important. Defense, protection, saving.

Sexual themes, however, are nearly universally about one thing: titillation. Sexual themes are, by definition, attempts to arouse and incite desire. There is one simple message in our Sexually-Oriented culture today, and it's not the one I want my children internalizing as a Way to Live.

I am convinced that pursuing sexual satisfaction as an end-goal itself is the antithesis of peace, happiness, and stability in life. I wish the world wasn't working so hard to drown me out when I try to teach my children that philosophy of life.

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Posted by Nathan at 11:01 AM | Comments (2)

April 24, 2005

Live-Blogging KC's 2005 NFL Draft, Redux « Kansas City Chiefs »

How can anyone not like KC's draft this year?

1st Round: Derrick Johnson, LB. He won All-Everything his senior year; considered a top-5 pick that fell because the teams ahead of KC were drafting for specific needs; some analysts consider him the best defensive player in the draft. With this pick combined with the signing of Kendrell Bell, KC's LB corps went from a weakness to a strength.

2nd Round: KC selected a guaranteed starting (and probable pro-bowl) CB by trading the 2nd-round pick for Miami's Patrick Surtain. Is there anyone they could have gotten with the mid-2nd-round pick that could be guaranteed to have that level of impact? No.

3rd Round: KC didn't pick until the end, because the normal pick was dealt to the Eagles for John Welbourn (who didn't work out that well at RT). But with the compensatory pick, the Chiefs took Dustin Colquitt, a top-notch punter. He has an excellent leg, excellent technique, and has all the skills you want: he can kick for hang-time, distance, direction... With the problems KC has had at punter over the last 5 years, this guy shores up the punter position for years. Oh, and his father was the punter in two Super Bowls for the Pittsburgh Steelers. You don't normally take a punter in the 3rd round, no, but the Raiders took Janikowski in the 1st round a few years back, and the Chargers took Kaeding in the 2nd round last year. As Carl Peterson put it: Colquitt was the only player left that was good enough to be projected as an near-automatic starter. Your punter can win or lose games for you (and KC's punters have lost games for us), so I gotta support this pick. In fact, I'm actually excited about it.

4th Round: This is where I start getting even more excited, because for some reason, KC actually seems to draft better in the later rounds. The Chiefs took WR Craphonso Thorpe. Aside from the unfortunate name, this guy could be awesome. His speed and production his junior year had people considering him for an eventual 1st-round pick, until he broke both bones in his leg at the end of his junior season. The injury was bad enough that his production slumped his senior year. Still, he had at least 5 catches against three of the top four CB in this year's draft. He says he's got all his speed back. To tell the truth, I'm surprised no other team took a chance on him...

5th Round: Boomer Grigsby, LB. Another All-Everything at LB, just at the 1-AA level. He's a little short, but apparently his motor is always running and he has a knack for being around the ball. Interestingly, he was a champion and All-American trampoline gymnast! So he should have good body control (whatever that means for a linebacker). I don't know if he will have an impact on the LB corps, but this pick really reminds me of Jared Allen last year: someone who dominated at the small-college level should be able to do well at the pro-level. At the very least, he should be a monster on special teams.

5th Round, 2nd pick: Aphonso Hodge, DB. Based on the description, I don't see how this guy didn't go earlier; he sounds a little like Deion Sanders, although perhaps he has hands of stone. Still, a nickel corner who shuts down a receiver is quite valuable. He's considered an underachiever based on his skills vs. production; could coaching and his own effort make a pro-bowl corner out of him in a few years?

..and KC still has 4 more picks to go. With the scouting dept's ability to find gems in the later rounds, we might still find a 3rd-string RB, a big TE, a Fullback, and a future LT starter project. That would meet every projected goal, with a chance to still sign a late-cut FA DT. There will be some different faces on the Chiefs this year, and KC will challenge for AFC Homefield Advantage and the Super Bowl. [/optimism]

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Posted by Nathan at 11:16 AM | Comments (1)

April 23, 2005

Live-Blogging the 2005 NFL Draft « Kansas City Chiefs »

I gotta tell ya, even though we got the player I wanted more than any other in Derrick Johnson, and we got Patrick Surtain to shore up our secondary, it hurts to see an entire round (particularly good, possible-starter-quality-second round talent) going by without having a single pick...!

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Posted by Nathan at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)
China: Non-Free Freedom « China/Taiwan »

Or, Economic freedom without Political freedom.

The average Chinese individual doesn't give a hoot about politics. With how fierce everyone has gotten about such things as homosexual marriage, abortion rights, the role of religion in society, evolution, etc, I think there's something to be said for that attitude.

But what the Chinese people really need is the strengthening of the Rule of Law in China. America needs that to happen in China, too, so that our corporations can successfully do business there.

But the main freedom they lack that they want is to get a consistent punishment for a consistent enforcement of consistent laws. That way they can make informed decisions about actions in everyday life.

In many ways, this is the most basic of freedoms.

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Posted by Nathan at 02:39 PM | Comments (1)
» links with: A step in the right direction
With the #15 Pick of the 2005 Draft... « Kansas City Chiefs »

The Kansas City Chiefs pick Derrick Johnson.

I'm tickled pink about this selection.

The Chiefs had addressed every position on defense even before the draft, finally making the trade for Patrick Surtain just yesterday. That already gave them a Pro-Bowler at CB, Safety, and LB, plus a 3-year starter to push for playing time at end (since Hicks has been only average for years and may be nearing the end of his career...).

Some of the draft boards had the Chiefs taking Shawne Merriman. That's a DE projected as a pass-rushing LB. That's a risk, especially since KC needs people to produce this year...converting someone from DL to LB takes time and effort, regardless of the talent of the player.
Some draft boards had them taking Thomas Davis, a safety big enough to play LB. I wasn't that excited about this possibility, either, since it involves another position switch to get what the Chiefs need (more on that need in a second). KC already has a Pro-Bowl safety in Knight, plus good competition between Woods and Wesley (plus a few other good, young safeties in Shaunard Harts and Willie Pile pushing for playing time in the future) for the 2nd spot; the last thing we need is another safety cluttering up things.
And I'm probably a little hesitant about position switches. Kansas City drafted a number of former college safeties projected to be cornerbacks, and the only successful conversion was Eric Warfield, and that took nearly 5 years. We need people we know can produce now.
...and, come to think of it, William Bartee has done a great job as a nickel back, playing almost as an extra safety making big hits on slot receivers coming across the middle. That makes safety even more crowded, perhaps.
Some draft boards projected the Chiefs taking Erasmus Jones. I wasn't totally happy with that option, but it makes some sense.

With the addition of Sammy Knight, S; Patrick Surtain, CB; Kendrell Bell, MLB; and Carlos Hall, DE, the Chiefs are in good shape everywhere but OLB and DT. So taking a DT makes a certain sort of sense. But we have a good deal of money tied up in Sims; it's too early to call him a bust. And Junior Siavii was showing flashes of potential before being injured by a cheap shot. Lionel Dalton looks like he has revitalized his career at DT, and John Browning is still decent. That's 1 good player, 1 decent player, 1 player who costs too much to bench without one last season to see what he can do, and 1 player who may progress greatly in his second season. That's a position too crowded to get full value by dropping another 1st round pick into the mix.

So that leaves LB as the place where we need the most help. Scott Fujita is a smart player with good speed...but he struggled under Cunningham's scheme. Shawn Barber never reached his projected potential with the Chiefs under Gunther's or Robinson's defenses. Maslowski will probably never be a full-time starter again, and lacked speed even at the peak of his career. Quentin Caver isn't starter-material. A 1st round pick could have a great positive impact on this bunch, and go from there to being a solid starter and possibly even pro-bowl player for several years.

Derrick Johnson was originally projected much higher. Two weeks ago I was wishing we'd have a shot at him and accepting that it was probably a vain hope...and now we have him!

This was exactly what we needed, I think. But we'll see when the season starts, I guess.

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Posted by Nathan at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)
» evolution links with: chiefs acquire CB Surtain/nfl draft
Oops! I Screwed Up Again! « China/Taiwan »

You can read the whole train wreck here.

I didn't want to post a defense over there, because it's their blog and I've irritated Jay Tea enough.

Look, I am proud of my knowledge of China. I've put lots of work into studying and understanding China over the last 11 years, and it may well be the focus of the rest of my career and life. I thought I had a perspective worth sharing, to help people understand more. Y'know, share the benefit of my knowledge. It does no one any good sitting in my skull.

Maybe I adopted the wrong tone? Too didactic, perhaps? In fact, the last thing I want is for someone to ever just take my word for it on an issue like China (or old rifles, or guitar playing, or great family sedans, or anything else I feel like I've studied deeply). I just want my opinion to be noted. To be given respect for my understanding. I don't care if someone disagrees with me, but one of my hot buttons is if someone tells me I need to research more before I can hold my opinion, implying I don't understand it enough...that if I just actually studied the issue, I'd agree with them. Grrr!

The other interesting thing I see whenever China is brought up is the hypocrisy.

The attitude I encounter seems to be:

China is evil because of all the horrible things the Chinese Communist government has done over the last 60 years. Each one of them is horrible, and unforgiveable, and evidence that China is the worst nation in the world.

Okay, fair enough. But the people making that accusation don't care about what the US did 35 years ago (Kent State and Tian'anmen Square were identical situations, albeit different scales). They defend "free" Taiwan against the "oppressive" China, totally ignoring how oppressive the KMT govt was toward the native Taiwanese. Sure, Taiwan does have completely democratic elections now that everyone can participate in...but that didn't come about until just under a decade we just ignore Taiwan's evil? If we defend Taiwan just because they are democratic, what was the basis of our support from 1949 to 1995, then? The Taiwan govt forced the people to live under martial law for nearly fifty years! If we catalogue China's crimes (and we should, let me be clear on that), then shouldn't we also catalogue Taiwan's and our own crimes, too?

Because there are darn good reasons to oppose China, to be worried about the aggressive stance they are taking.

But a catalogue of their crimes against humanity while ignoring our own, or those of our chosen allies, is hypocrisy. And makes it more likely that we will continue to ignore crimes against humanity in the future. I don't want that. When we catalogue crimes, I want them all noted, so we never forget, never whitewash.

When I do that, I tend to get accused of moral relativism. I don't think that's accurate.

I'm not excusing China for what they've done. I am trying to say approaching the argument from that direction is a non-starter, because of the whole glass houses/"those without sin can cast the first stone" issue.

Here's an example. It was 19 years from the Kent State Massacre to the Tian'an Men Square Massacre. It has been 16 years since the Tian'an Men Square Massacre to today. Do you think we would stand for China criticizing another country's massacre of student protesters if one happens three years from now? Of course not! We'd be all over China's hypocrisy...conveniently ignoring our own on that issue. Both massacres happened because the people in power were afraid of student protests getting out of hand, and sent in a military force to do police work/riot control. A disaster is just about inevitable in that situation. China learned from the mistake, however, and developed a nationwide riot-police to deal with such situations...and we've had no masscres in China for 16 years and counting.
So here's the thing: if China knows that 30 years from now they will still be blamed/punished for the Tian'an Men Square Massacre, what reason do they have to try and do the right thing? To prevent further massacres? To be considered an equal with other nations?
The US didn't do a thing to the KMT (Chiang Kai-shek's party/govt that fled the mainland when the Chi-Coms took over) when they massacred thousands of native Taiwanese to solidify their rule. Why? Because we feared the Communists, and so ignored it. Not a single censure. How many of you had even heard of the 2-28 Incident?

But I'm not trying to excuse China for their past. I just don't want us to excuse ourselves and our allies, either. We actually try to do better because sunlight has been shone on our past mistakes. So I'm going to continue to shine sunlight, in hopes that we don't go into the shadows again.

Another problem I have with looking to past actions as the basis for current postures and future oppositions is: how far in the past do you go?

Americans think that 100 years is a LOOONG time, and so we ignore the US' greedy and expansionistic past, when we picked a fight with a weakening Spain so we could take their territories, establish our Empire, and compete in the colonial exploitation game.
Heck, specifically regarding China, when the European powers were carving up China in the 1800s because it was rich but weak, the US rode in...but not to protect China's territorial sovereignty, but to demand that we get our fair share of the booty, too.
To us, that's just 150 years ago. Too far in the past to blame us for...
But what is 150 years to a nation that counts its history in millenia? 150 years is yesterday. I'm not saying their view is more correct than ours, but we can't insist on our own view without at least acknowledging that their view has some validity, as well. Or at least remembering and accounting for their opinion.

And if we accurately understand exactly what mistakes every nation has made in the past, then we can focus in more on current and future behavior.

My goal is that our govt and public opinion would adopt and communicate an attitude toward China like this:

Okay, guys, the past is the past. But we're watching you, and we won't stand for anything like the Tian'an Men Square Massacre again. We won't stand for you messing with Taiwan, either. Not because they are better than you (their past is just as bad), but because even though they are being jerks about the whole re-unification thing, that doesn't justify an armed invasion and the attendant deaths. Find a better way to do it. If you go that far, we'll fight you, and it will hurt you more than us.

And I'd like us to say to Taiwan:
Quit farting around, hoseheads. We'll defend your freedoms with our lives, but we'd rather not have to, y'know? Can't you find a less-risky path to get what you want?

But I'm tired of the vilification of China. No one in China has the power that Stalin had. Mao had more power than Gorbachev, sure, but no one currently has that much power these days. It's all power brokering and compromise and people trying to maintain their own personal security. If they could figure out a way to retain wealth and freedom while converting to Democracy, I think the Chinese govt would go for it. But they seem to fear (justified, I think) something like the French Revolution happening, where the first act of a new Chinese govt would be to execute the old one. I can't say I blame 'em for not stepping down under those likely circumstances.

But if we continue to engage China, give them disincentives for attacking Taiwan and provide incentives for them to continue giving their people more freedom, they might just hit a tipping point and transform the nation in a matter of months.

That's what I want to see. But in my heart, demonizing China is counterproductive to that.

It's almost like people want there to be another evil empire like the USSR to hate and oppose; that someone else has to be wholly evil so they can feel good about the US. I don't think there's justification to consider China that bad. I think that the communist movement, being liberal, was inherently immature; I'd like to encourage their maturation, to convince them that more political freedom and strengthening the Rule of Law in their nation is a desirable goal.

So that's where I'm coming from. If it isn't clear, well, let me know where and I'll try to clarify.

Read More "Oops! I Screwed Up Again!" »

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Posted by Nathan at 12:48 PM | Comments (8)
» links with: Instead of demonizing China.....
Political Correctness Run Amok « Social Issues »

"One nation, under your belief system!?!??"

Don't you think this anti-religious movement is getting out of hand?

So was this open season on religious belief brought on by libertarians who feel uncomfortable finding themselves under the same big tent as conservative Christians in voting for Bush, or liberals who feel they lost the 2004 election on the basis of religious values?

I'd guess the latter is the main reason; after all, they have the bulk of the mainstream media to spread their viewpoint...but the fiscally-conservative-socially-moderate voting bloc probably contributed significantly, as well.

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Posted by Nathan at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)
» The Roost links with: I pledge allegance to the moral majority...
» Myopic Zeal links with: One Nation, Under God Your Belief System

April 22, 2005

Good News For Pontiac « Car Issues »

Just think how good the numbers would have been if the G6 had been a better car! As in, either more competitive with Camry/Accord, or such a price value (like the Suzuki Verona) that, combined with brand recognition, the G6 could have challenged for being a best-selling car in its class. Anyway, here's the facts::

FACT: Estimated January through end-April (at current rate of sales), the available version of the G6 will be outselling the same version of its Grand Am predecessor by more than 70 percent. That’s comparing V6 sedan to V6 sedan.
FACT: We are currently selling 75 percent fewer vehicles to rental fleets.

On top of this, it looks like the Solstice will be a hit, too. GM needs volume sales, to be sure. I hope they get it, and I hope they learn to keep pace with consumer expectations more effectively in the future!

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Posted by Nathan at 06:53 PM | Comments (5)
Policy As Written, Policy As Enforced « Social Issues »

Does our society, or more importantly, do our authorities completely lack common sense?

If you take the public education system's various Zero Tolerance policies, or the Federal governments War on Drugs as examples, I guess you have to say we do.

Yes, "we", because the government and the administration for public schools are hired by us, and we have direct input into the tenure of both.

Maybe an even more important question is: can we restore common sense to our society, government, and empowered authorities?

The reason is this is an important question is that there are at least three major issues in the news right now that I can think of right off the top of my head that could be resolved with an infusion of common sense.

1) Abortion
2) the relation between religion and government
3) Same-Sex Marriage rights

It is these discussions that provide most of the vitriol in the blogosphere and op-ed pages. It is these topics that have deepened the fissures between liberal and conservative, between the religious and the atheist, that threatens to fracture both parties into a hundred squabbling factions.

I know most of us are tired of it, but nothing ever gets resolved.

Stepping back a moment, it seems like the main problem is that these issues are being argued on the basis of singular examples rather than common sense. For instance: "I have an uncle who has been 100% faithful to his boyfriend for 70 years, and is a model of love and chastity, so how can you deny him the right of marriage?" Well, public policy is not and should not be made on the basis of one example. Or: "What if a girl were raped by her father right after they moved to a new town so she didn't have anyone to turn to for help in dealing with the crime and the pregnancy she now faces? So we must have federally-funded abortion-on-demand without parental notification legal through the middle of the 3rd trimester to help this poor girl". Or, "I do not support and will not stand for my taxes going to pay for anything as religious as a Christmas Tree or for a govt official on the payroll saying "Happy Easter" or a privately-funded monument to the 10 Commandments showing anywhere on Courthouse grounds, because that represents an establishment of Religion in the governemnt".

One of those cool moments of clarity that change your life came in my Junior year of college, in American Public Policy class. The point the teacher made is that there is always and inevitably a difference between Policy-as-written and Policy-as-enforced, and that the dichotomy can be deliberately used to shape public behavior to the benefit of everyone involved. The example she used is Texas'/Houston's policy on speeding tickets. Whatever level of govt it was had built a toll road, and people weren't using it enough to pay for itself. So they stopped enforcing the speed limit on the tollroad; people regularly went 80 mph on it. It encouraged people to pay the $3 for the tollroad if they were in a huge hurry, which made the toll road profitable and reduced congestion on the non-toll freeway. But the automatic $3 charge kept enough people off the tollway that going 70 to 80 mph was still relatively safe.

Now, why can't that sort of attitude be adopted toward these issues?

Why can't abortion be absolutely illegal after the 1st trimester, with the understanding that a truly horrible situation will still be handled discreetly, and even if noted, not prosecuted?

Why can't "sodomy" remain illegal, but only used as an add-on charge when involving rape or manipulation of the underaged?

Why can't the use of harder drugs remain illegal, but we stop prosecuting people who are merely 'using', unless they are also engaged in another criminal behavior like robbing a store to get money for their next fix?

Why can't homosexual partners be treated as common-law lifetime relationships for the purposes of inheritance and hospital visitation without altering legal definitions of marriage? Heck, the added advantage there is that they would have to actually act like a married couple to get the rights of common law marriage...which would defuse the conservative argument that "gay marriages" would be used as a license for extreme promiscuity with spousal medical insurance as a safety net.

Maybe these aren't the best examples. There are probably better ones.

My frustration arises from the litigous society we have created, in which common sense can't be applied or else the ACLU will hit you with a discrimination suit and someone gets a $10 million windfall from "punitive" damages designed to re-engineer social attitudes and mores.

Are you happy that we have a society in which Andrea Yates can drown her children and never get a day of prison? In which a woman gets several million dollars for getting a 2nd degree burn from coffee because she slurped too quickly? In which kids get thrown out of school for bringing a 2" long plastic toy rifle to school? In which a 14-year-old can get an abortion without her parents knowing, but not a tattoo? In which a 12-year-old can get free condoms and be encouraged to engage in oral/anal sex to "preserve virginity" (Thanks, Planned Parenthood!) but a 20-year-old can't purchase a beer? In which tipping authorities to illegal immigration is worse than going to the Emergency Room for your child's cold because the parent knows they won't be denied despite not being able to pay?

This best post. ...but that's...okay. Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and: Doggone it! People like me.

Anyway, these are the random thoughts I am having as I sit in a Starbuck's constantly being distracted by nice gams and slender waists wending their way toward a Venti Latte with caramel.

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Posted by Nathan at 01:49 PM | Comments (2)
Strict "Objectivity and Balance"? « Politics As Usual »

Who decides? Who enforces?

If this report is accurate, I have to say I think it is a bad idea.

Let PBS be PBS. Let the public use market forces to punish broadcast/cable news media for manipulating news items for partisan gain, but leave PBS alone. Republicans have functioned fine with PBS doing its thing for decades. Let them continue to do their thing.

...on the other hand, the reactions of the people on the left are also ridiculous: idea that PBS's general counsel described in an internal memo as amounting to "government encroachment on and supervision of program content, potentially in violation of the First Amendment."
"We don't want to be alarmist, but I would be less than honest if I said there wasn't concern here," said one senior executive at PBS, who insisted on anonymity because CPB provides about 10 percent of its annual budget. "When you put it all together, a pattern starts to emerge."

A senior FCC official, who would not speak for attribution because he must rule on issues affecting public broadcasting, went further, saying CPB "is engaged in a systematic effort not just to sanitize the truth, but to impose a right-wing agenda on PBS. It's almost like a right-wing coup. It appears to be orchestrated."

They are apparently assuming that "Liberal Truth" is the only Truth, and conservatives are automatically wrong, evil, and dishonest. I'm growing quite tired of that characterization.

Then again, I'm also growing quite tired of the recent open season on religion and religious beliefs and religious believers.

Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry. All you've seen thus far is "mildly irritated." Nothing that would cause my eyes to go white or my skin to assume any shade of green hue...Yet.

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Posted by Nathan at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)
Strict "Objectivity and Balance"? « Politics As Usual »

Who decides? Who enforces?

If this report is accurate, I have to say I think it is a bad idea.

Let PBS be PBS. Let the public use market forces to punish broadcast/cable news media for manipulating news items for partisan gain, but leave PBS alone. Republicans have functioned fine with PBS doing its thing for decades. Let them continue to do their thing.

...on the other hand, the reactions of the people on the left are also ridiculous, apparently assuming that "Liberal Truth" is the only Truth, and conservatives are automatically wrong, evil, and dishonest. I'm growing quite tired of that characterization.

Then again, I'm also growing quite tired of the recent open season on religion and religious beliefs and religious believers.

Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry. All you've seen thus far is "mildly irritated." Nothing that would cause my eyes to go white or my skin to assume any shade of green hue...Yet.

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Posted by Nathan at 12:59 PM | Comments (0)
Kid In a Candy Store (UPDATED) « Blogging »

I'm sitting in a Starbuck's in Hawaii, about a block from what will be my new home.

They don't have wifi access, but the juice store next door does, and I guess I'm stealing it in some way, since I'm on the internet without buying anything from them.

I gotta tell ya, from a girl-watcher's perspective, there are few things better than sitting in a comfortable chair that faces the main entrance, and watching a parade of slender, attractive women walk past.

Life is good.

UPDATE: I've actually talked to two of them!

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Posted by Nathan at 12:10 PM | Comments (7)

April 21, 2005

Google Loves Me (No One Else Does) « Blogging »

49 of my last 100 hits were from Google search hits. When you include in MSN and Yahoo searches, more than 60 of my last 100 hits were from searches.


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Posted by Nathan at 06:09 PM | Comments (15)
» links with: Need Some 'Brain Fertilizer'?

I just met with my new commander today. It's an interesting situation, in which my operational commander is different than my administrative commander.

Today was the administrative.

And the cool part was: Despite outranking me and having at least 5 years more experience as an officer, I took control of the conversation and directed it in the direction I wanted it to go.

And I'm not sure he even realized it.

My progression toward a mastery of bureaucracy marches onward!

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Posted by Nathan at 04:03 PM | Comments (3)

April 20, 2005

Getting Around « Car Issues »

It looks like people are starting to catch on to the value of the Suzuki Verona...

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Posted by Nathan at 08:44 PM | Comments (0)
Garnering Traffic « Blogging »

I'm still getting at least 4 hits/day from "Erica Durance Nude" (a trick I stole from Jay of Accidental Verbosity). And I get an extra 20-30 hits each day for a few days after I link Bob Lutz's FastLane blog. Especially if I make sure it has a good Title and Lead-in sentence that makes people want to click through.

I can sometimes give myself 'lanches from Michelle Malkin that way, too, if I'm the first person to link one of her posts.

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Posted by Nathan at 08:20 PM | Comments (1)
Hm « Blogging »

Being in Hawaii just about makes me not care about blogging.

But I'm not going to make any decisions one way or the other until after things settle down and settle in.

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Posted by Nathan at 08:07 PM | Comments (1)
Occupations « Stuff Important to Me »

I've been tagged.

I'm slow, but I generally get around to stuff, eventually. So here goes.

Immediately following there is a list of different occupations. You must select at least 5 of them (feel free to select more). You may add more if you like to your list before you pass it on (after you select 5 of the items as it was passed to you). Each one begins with "If I could be..." Of the 5 you selected, you are to finish each phrase with what you would do as a member of that profession. For example, if the selected occupation was "pirate" you might take the phrase "If I could be a pirate..." and add to it "I would sail the 7 Seas, dating lasses from around the worlde." See how easy that is? Here's the list:

If I could be a scientist...

If I could be a farmer...

If I could be a musician...

If I could be a doctor...

If I could be a painter...

If I could be a gardener...

If I could be a missionary...

If I could be a chef...

If I could be an architect...

If I could be a linguist...

If I could be a psychologist...

If I could be a librarian...

If I could be an athlete...

If I could be a lawyer...

If I could be an innkeeper...

If I could be a professor...

If I could be a writer...

If I could be a llama-rider...

If I could be a bonnie pirate...

If I could be an astronaut...

If I could be a radio talk show host...

If I could be a congressional staffer...

If I could be an entrepreneur ...

If I could be a frontiersman...

If I could be a swashbuckler...

So, okay: skipping the obvious and semi-obscene ("If I could be a linguist, I'd be very cunning" and "If I could be a missionary, I'd assume the position whenever possible"), I guess I'm left with:

If I could be a librarian, I'd library in the morning, I'd library in the evening, all over this tow-own! (sing it with me!)

If I could be an innkeeper, I'd make sure I was known for having the best and widest selection of fine, dark beers in the entire area. Plus good water (to help avoid hangovers and clear the palate) and hearty breakfasts (to chase away the remnants of hangovers). So I guess I'd have to have a package deal that includes renting the room for the night and including a 12-pack of your favorite brew, plus a big breakfast in the morning. All for $100, or so.

If I could be a musician, I'd offer up mp3s of my music for free and let people donate to keep me in enough money to keep making music.

Um, I don't really have anyone I feel like tagging with this meme, but if you want to give your own response, feel free to do so in the comments, or link back to this post.

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Posted by Nathan at 12:56 PM | Comments (0)
Bob Lutz Fires Back; Misses at Least Once « Car Issues »

We're not dead yet! We think we'd like to take a walk!

But some good stuff there. Particularly:

For one thing, I am enthusiastic about the Buick Lacrosse. It may be a bit conservatively styled, as are many excellent Japanese cars, but it's wonderfully executed, has fabulous workmanship, is dead-quiet, and, with the sport suspension and the four-cam V-6, has sensationally good dynamics. Plus, on the road, it has very nice "presence." And it’s already selling better than the old Regal and Century combined. In March, we delivered 8,233 units, a 36% increase over February. That's not bad.

I think that's a pretty decent assessment. As I said, if I were going to spend close to $30k on a car, I'd at least look into the LaCrosse. The article I read rated it lower than the Chrysler 300 or Ford 500, but the way it described the LaCrosse made me think it fit what I wanted more, whereas the 300 and 500 were more set to please a professional test-driver; and I've already determined they don't see things the same way I do, for the most part.

I have a huge problem with something he says when speaking about the GTO:

Since this is a true muscle car, I'll hardly mention that this car has a beautiful interior and a great stereo.

No. He still has problems getting it. The niche market is too small to sustain a model these days. You can't just label a car a "muscle car" and ignore its other aspects. Good, I'm glad GM gave it a beautiful interior and a great stereo, because it needs those things to sell and build loyalty. But Lutz almost makes it sound like an accident. It is on your flagship muscle cars that you must provide the best experience. Because someone will come it to do a test drive without intending to or being able to buy the car, but the impression they get from that test drive will cause them to form judgments about Pontiac and GM.

They can't punt on any issue with any car. They have to put the best car out there for every car. If they can't do that, they need to cancel the model.

The other good news I glean from this is that I don't think GM is going to cancel Pontiac or Buick. And with the Solstice roadster is a step in the right direction, too.

Good on ya, GM! Keep it up. You can cover your high health/union costs if you sell enough cars.

...of course, you still don't make the car I want, and only come close in the price range I may never spend...

But still, things are looking up.

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Posted by Nathan at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2005

Car Review: '05 Chevy Malibu LS V6 « Car Issues »

While waiting for my car to arrive, I rented a Chevy Malibu. Driving it for 3 days, I think I have a good idea of the car and what it can do, as well as its nature. Keep in mind, many aspects of this car will be in relation to my '04 Suzuki Verona S, as well as my '01 Honda CRV and '91 Toyota Corolla.

The Good:
-I didn't like the dash at first, but it grew on me. The steering wheel is cool, allows unobstructed viewing of gauges
-Good sound system, controls easy to use
-Excellent air vent system...although it is prominent enough to dominate the dash
-Good power
-Cavernous trunk
-Cool engine sound. It was obviously tuned to sound good, and reminds me of a big-block V8 gurgle
-Fairly nimble handling
-Fit/Finish quite good. Nothing feels or looks cheap
-Good driving sightlines/visibility
-auto lights and auto sound is nifty

-Despite good handling, the car doesn't settle into a track; I'm constantly having to adjust in the turns
-Despite having plenty of power, it doesn't want to give it to you. Want to go a little fast? Press down a little on the accelerator and nothing happens. Press down harder and get decent acceleration. Floor it and get pushed back in your seat. But why should the car make you work so hard to get that acceleration? It clearly could easily out-do my Verona, but I feel like there is a better connection between acceletor throw and acceleration output in my Verona. Even with less acceleration, I feel in better control in the Verona. More on that later.
-Braking is weak to adequate. I hate feeling like I'm straining to stop the car when braking on a downslope
-The plastics and fabrics are average at best. While not 'cheap', obviously Chevy spared nearly every expense to make the interior
-The car is too bulky and sightlines of bumpers/fenders are too ambiguous for tight spaces; I can't really feel where the bumpers are.

Conclusion/Overall Impression: This is a car. Not really a good car, or maneuverable car, or fast car, or powerful car. On the other hand, not a bad car or weak car or cheap car. It's just a car. It's not really fun to drive, or irritating to drive. It doesn't impress me in looks or turn me off. It's got all you need, but nothing compelling. It's not mediocre, but not exceptional, either.

It would have been a hit five years ago. It would have been a top seller 8-10 years ago. GM's problem is not that it is making bad cars, but that it is still 3-5 years behind the power curve. With better cars by Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Chrysler (gasp! well, yeah: the 300) out right now, there is really no reason to spend $18k on this car. On the other hand, if you like GM or feel some loyalty, there's no reason not to, either. You won't feel cheated or ripped off.

It's just that, I like my Verona because it cost thousands less than similarly equipped cars from other manufacturers. While the Malibu has more power/speed than my '04 Verona S, it really doesn't beat it in any other aspect, and lags behind in many others, despite being a year newer. The Verona S simply looks nicer, has as much cabin room, a slightly better sound system, better brakes, more precise handling, is far smoother and far more quiet, has more even power distribution throughout normal driving speeds, and every time you see it or drive it, you still get a thrill. The Verona is just plain fun to drive. I don't get that from the Malibu. It's a better deal than my CRV, and beats the old Corolla in every way imaginable...but the Malibu isn't competing against 5- and 10-year old cars. GM has neglected car technology for too long in chasing after high truck/SUV profit margins, and it shows in the Malibu.

Bottom Line: The Malibu pretty much just ties the Verona in overall ratings, but will get many more sales because of brand recognition. While someone could try them both out and still prefer the Malibu (since the Malibu has a clear edge in horsepower), it isn't really good for GM that the Malibu couldn't bury a 1-year-older competitor that costs thousands less. When you get into the Malibu price range, there are cars better than the Verona that clearly outperform the Malibu in every aspect.

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Posted by Nathan at 02:13 PM | Comments (2)

April 18, 2005

Zingers from Mr. Taranto « Humor »
Some may see an inconsistency in these Democrats opposing supermajority requirements while favoring the Senate filibuster in the other Washington. But the Washington state supermajority, unlike the U.S. Senate filibuster, was passed by the voters, so the Dems are entirely consistent in opposing democracy.
Well, never let it be said that the Democrats don't learn from their mistakes. In 2004 they had one message: We hate George W. Bush. It turned out most Americans liked George W. Bush, so now the Dems have a whole new message: We hate Tom DeLay. But whatever the merits of the case against DeLay, that "(House Majority Leader Tom)" in the USA Today piece shows why this is an unpromising strategy. DeLay-hate may be blue meat for the Angry Left, but most Americans are likely to respond to Dean's "arguments" by saying, "Tom who?"

From the April 18th issue of Best of the Web.

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Posted by Nathan at 03:26 PM | Comments (0)
Safely In Hawaii (EDITED for Accuracy) « Blogging »

Okay, so I'm in my new location.

Blogging is going to be later in the day from now on. I was already suffering a little bit from being a west-coast time-zone blogger, i.e., the east coast guys usually blogged lots of stuff before I could get to it, and they were done for the day when I was still posting...including late evening stuff that consequently didn't get as much notice.

Well, I guess that problem is just going to get worse.

For instance, it's lunch time here...but most east-coast bloggers won't see this until tomorrow.

No big deal. I'm not doing this to impress anyone on the east coast. Well, except maybe Bill of INDC Journal.

Of course, no one cares what if this guy thinks.

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Posted by Nathan at 03:13 PM | Comments (1)

April 17, 2005

Aphorism O' The Day « Aphorisms »
The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get to work.
-- Robert Frost

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Posted by Nathan at 09:44 PM | Comments (1)

April 16, 2005

The Situation in China is Growing Grave « China/Taiwan »

"Anti-Japanese" Protests Threatening to Get Out of Hand.

As one activist put it in the article:

"Nationalism is a double-edged sword," said a leading campaigner for peasant rights and rural health care.

The activist, speaking on condition of anonymity, said government critics already had begun to take advantage of a rare easing of tight political controls. "It can help the government gain support, but it can also help people who see the government as part of the problem," he said.

That's the thing. The massive sit-in protests that resulted in the Tian'anmen Square Massacre began as just people honoring a deceased official.

But when people are restricted from expressing frustration with a govt, they get quite good at proxy/indirect protests.

This may be starting out as the Chinese govt trying to send a message to Japan: "Look, you guys are so bad, even the common Chinese citizen goes out and protests how much they dislike you. This really hurts your reputation. So concede on this economic/diplomatic issue, will you?" But when you get a bunch of people together and encourage them to get a little angry, other issues start cropping up...

This could get messy/nasty for the Chinese govt.

Fortunately, they did learn something from the Tian'anmen Square Massacre: military troops make lousy riot troops. So they created the People's Armed Police and gave 'em bunches of riot gear. It has worked so far; there have been dozens of large-scale protests --even a few riots!-- since 1989, and there still hasn't been even a small-scale massacre to date. Plenty of police brutality, I'm sure, and I'd be willing to bet a good number of people not getting out of present except feet-first. Not ideal, no, but still better than 1-2k shot within a matter of hours.

I'll be praying for China, and request you do, too, if you're the praying kind. They're gonna need it.

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Posted by Nathan at 07:10 AM | Comments (1)
The War On Drugs « Social Issues »

The War on Drugs is ridiculous, counterproductive, useless, and waste all around. To stop the drug trade, you have to reduce demand. But all a dealer needs to do to increase demand is give a little of his product for free, and he gets a whole new customer base addicted. It's like trying to empty the ocean with a sieve.

So you have to greatly reduce supply, so you don't have people with lots of product to deal. But that's forcing a foreign country to change their ways; difficult at best, and nearly impossible when dealing with a jungled mountain area like that in Columbia.

But you can work on the weakest link: the dealers.

Here's what I'd do:
1) Legalize marijuana. It's really not much different than alcohol in terms of addictiveness, and few people commit crimes while stoned. Of course, if it does ever look like it might be legalized, I'm buying lots of stock in Frito-Lay's and other snack makers...
People argue against marijuana from the basis of it being a gateway drug: i.e., it may not be a problem, but it leads to usage of other, worse drugs. But I presume it is a gateway drug precisely because it is illegal. If someone smokes it and doesn't seem to be harmed or dangerous at all, because they are doing something illegal anyway, they might as well try some other stuff...
2) Keep all 'harder' drugs illegal. They are significantly different from alcohol and cigarettes in the addictability, and that means people who are hooked and can't get the product do commit crimes to get it. But you stop enforcing it, because most of these people are victims of the dealers who get them hooked. So you keep 'em illegal to send a message to kids, and so you have something else to smack people with if they do drive under the influence, or rob a store while high, etc.
2a) I could even see having a program where the govt hands out some harder drugs to an addict...but only in a locked cell that amounts to entry into a treatment program...I'll have to muse more on that.
3) Take out the dealers. Make it too expensive/difficult/painful to keep dealing. I'd support mandatory death sentences for all dealers, although I'd probably insist on an extremely high threshold for proving someone was a dealer, like getting caught in the act of selling. Just handing a joint to your younger sibling shouldn't count...maybe specific quantities? Although merely possessing large quantities shouldn't be enough, either.
At the very least, capital punishment for dealing should be an option.
That would allow us to slash the War on Drugs budget down to a 1/10th of what it already is, and yet still be quite a bit more effective.

Anyway, that's my $.02 worth.

Inspired by this post and this one.

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Posted by Nathan at 06:52 AM | Comments (4)

April 15, 2005

The ABlogolypse? « Blogging »

You know, there's that old legend that the end of the world begins when a baby is born without a soul...

...are they sure that wasn't a mistranslation? You know: maybe it was "when a blog is born without a soul that the excrement hits the whirling blads of a electro-mechanical cooling device?

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Posted by Nathan at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)
» Sharp as a Marble links with: Jealousy. Simple Jealousy
Revenge « Blogging »

Apparently, some people think that it is perfectly okay to viciously attack someone just because that someone made a nasty, unprecented pre-emptive attack first. Well, I think it's totally unfair for him to defend himself. I won't let this justified retribution go without a response:

Read More "Revenge" »

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Posted by Nathan at 02:30 PM | Comments (3)
Bottom Line on Detroit Automobile Corporations « Car Issues »

It's not that GM and Ford aren't improving. They are. They put out far better cars now than 10 years ago. It's just that the automobile manufacturing world is amazingly competitive these days. The internet is creating an extremely savvy, sophisticated, and demanding customer who won't get bamboozled into a sub-par car as easily.

Look at all the reaching that BMW has done to maintain their market share. It looks like they miscalculated. Even Toyota, Honda, and Nissan are taking some risks to try and increase sales; and then Hyundai, Kia, and Suzuki are trying to gobble up customers/market share from the opposite end. VW is trying to explode on the market and turn a 4-car line into a best-seller of affordable-level performance/style/luxury ("affordable" being relative to the market demographic, of course).

Detroit had the chance to fix things 10 years ago, when SUVs were getting to be a big deal. They should have anticipated that relatively cheap gas wouldn't be around forever, and that things come full circle, bringing more and more people out of the truck/SUV market. But instead of plowing profits into entry- and family-sedans, they just expanded their SUV lines in a move toward short-term profits. In the end, they all chased after the same market demographic and totally lost the bulk of the car market to the Japanese and the Germans.

To those who might think I'm kicking GM when they're down: how many posts have I made worrying about BMW's mistakes and offering my thoughts on how they could fix it? Zero.

I'm upset, yes, that GM didn't want to make the car I love so much that I'm 90% a Suzuki customer for life.*

Read More "Bottom Line on Detroit Automobile Corporations" »

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Posted by Nathan at 01:30 PM | Comments (3)
My Very Own Post (UPDATED) « Blogging »

To clarify: A post named for me. I never thought I would see this in my lifetime. I'm moved to tears.

Upon reflection, it seems SaaM has now got bore-blogging down to a science with the linked post.

Upon further reflection, anyone who has been reading his site for long would probably argue he got it there months ago.

Upon even further reflection, I'm probably the only person who has the stomach to keep reading his site for long...

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Posted by Nathan at 11:16 AM | Comments (0)
Detroit's Continuing Problems « Car Issues »

From Via Drudge, the NY Times say Ford and GM stuck in Neutral.


The Big Two automobile giants offer plenty of explanations, from soaring health care costs to rising gas prices and creeping interest rates. But consumers and industry specialists say G.M. and Ford have swerved off course for a more basic reason: not enough people like their cars.

"I still hate to buy a foreign car," said T. J. Penn, a 44-year-old painting and drywall contractor walking through a Toyota lot this week in Ann Arbor, Mich. "But the quality and reliability makes it hard not to."

In other news, I think GM is probably going to end up killing off Pontiac, rather than Buick, if it decides it must kill off a division.


Because as Motor Trend (I think...I read it a dentist's office waiting room) editorial pointed out, Buick is a best-seller in China, whereas Pontiac has no such following anywhere else.

Making things even harder on Pontiac is that GM seems to be positioning Cadillac as the line that will take on BMW. That's really the only niche I think Pontiac ("Driving Excitement!") could go after. Not to mention, GM's entries into the Performance Sedan niche is further complicated by owning Saab and putting the Saab platform under the Malibu*.

The Corvette is going to be the ultimate horsepower production car for GM, and since they apparently have no plans to bring back the Trans Am, well, I don't see much space for Pontiac to grab customers. The general flop of the G6 just makes things even bleaker for Pontiac.**

I also gotta tell you: I think GM is making a mistake in its battle plan. Cadillac might be an excellent RWD performance car, but they seem to be trying to take on BMW and Lexus and Audi and maybe Benz, all at the same time. That's not smart. These cars all have different demographics, with the most overlap probably being between BMW and Audi. One car line can't attract everyone, and the recent Cadillacs are even more polarizing. I think they look like an 8-year-old's vision of a 'cool' car, and I probably wouldn't be caught dead in one. Yeah, despite my pragmatism about how a car performs, I really hate the ostentation of the current Caddies.

Lexus is "refined luxury for the rest of us". I heard it said once by a salesman in Hawaii that "Benz is for rich people, but BMW is for successful people". That seems to fit, too. BMW also aspires to be the "ultimate driving machine", and the car reviewers have agreed they do it quite well, with only Audi coming close. Cadillac doesn't usually get mentioned in the same articles as BMW and Audi's sports sedans (the others usually being Jaguar, Volvo, Lexus, and Saab, and the VW Phaeton for the top-of-the-line---complicating things for GM Saab never comes close to the leading Audi and BMW cars!), nor is it usually compared favorably to Lexus that I've seen, so it seems as if Cadillac is failing in its assigned mission. It seems to be making its own niche, and that's a good thing...but "testosterone-driven ostentation" doesn't seem like a very expansive category. They seem to be going after the type of person who would buy a truck just to brag about its horsepower without ever using it to the limit, and who now wants to buy a car.

That doesn't seem very smart.

Of course, that's just my impression.

Put another way, one that seems a little smarter, or more admirable: rather than analyzing why people buy cars and trying to put out the best car in a few chosen categories, GM seems to be trying to make the best car it can and hoping that demand will follow. But they are pricing it high enough, and cladding it in controversial enough appearance packages, that bunches of people will never even consider it. Not when there are other cars out there already meeting what they already know they want: reliability, comfort, and enough performance for daily commuting in a relatively inexpensive package, found in the Civic, Corolla, Camry, Accord, Altima, Mazda 6, and even Lexus (I'm not including the Forenza and Verona because few people really know about them yet).

My problem with GM continues to be summed up with the car I purchased:
An extremely comfortable/luxurious, sophisticated/grown-up sedan for an extremely inexpensive price. And GM decided it didn't want to make the car, so gave it to Suzuki.

Why should I even want to look at a GM product?

Read More "Detroit's Continuing Problems" »

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Posted by Nathan at 10:48 AM | Comments (5)
Congressional Nepotism « Media Distortions » « Politics As Usual »

My friend Jo sent me an article/editorial commenting on Rep. Sanders' practice of hiring family members, the issue that Democrats are criticizing Rep. Tom DeLay for (covered previously here.

The editorial states (in excerpt):

None of this is illegal. The story did not state, or imply, that Rep. Sanders broke the law by hiring family members. An Associated Press story in Thursday's paper points out that employing relatives is common practice among the nation's lawmakers. It says about four dozen senators and representatives have hired family members for their campaign and political groups.

Of course, just because something is common practice and doesn't break the law, doesn't mean it's totally kosher. Watchdog groups are rightly concerned. Even if family members earn their pay, there still remains the appearance of impropriety. Given the power that elected officials wield and the fact that they serve at the pleasure of their taxpaying constituents, there's nothing wrong with holding them to higher standards. We're not talking about a small contractor who hires his son over summer vacation and doesn't mind paying him a little extra.

I think the Banner has it exactly right with Rep. Sanders, and so probably with Rep. DeLay

Not illegal, probably not inethical...but very hard to defend, and probably best if politicians stopped doing it. would have been nice for someone to write such an editorial in defense* of Rep. DeLay, but since Democrats consider him the Anti-Christ, I don't think anyone in a non-conservative publication (which is 99% of them) would dare.

Read More "Congressional Nepotism" »

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Posted by Nathan at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)
An Excellent Review of the Verona « Car Issues »



Now along comes the Verona, Suzuki's first attempt at a midsize car, and I was surprised to find a Toyota Camry clone.

Made in South Korea, the Verona resembles Camry in looks and performance and is very close in fit and finish. Outward styling looks like a combination of Honda Accord and Camry, and the tail is nearly a dead-ringer for the Toyota.

Its lines are more slim and attractive than either of its main competitors.

The price starts at $19,499, and even adding traction control, the test car hit just $20,499.

If you want a lower level Verona, there's the S, starting at $16,499 (anti-locks are optional) or the LX for $17,799 (sunroof is optional). You're lucky to get into a good compact or subcompact for either of those prices.

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Posted by Nathan at 12:19 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2005

What I've Driven/Owned « Car Issues »

I have driven/owned:
a '68 Pontiac Tempest (HS car inherited from older sibs) --drove about 2 years
a '84 Ford Courier (inherited from parents, sister got the Buick) --drove about 2 years
a '84 Escort Station Wagon (bought with insurance money when lady hit the Courier) --about 3 years
a '86 Chrysler Laser turbo (1st wife's car) --about 3 years
a '89 Pontiac Grand Am (boughtt with insurance money after wife totalled the Laser) --3 years, went with 1st wife after divorce
a Datsun station wagon ('81? bought for $500 in Hawaii, after being carless for a year) --about a year
a '80 Volvo 240 (bought for $200 from someone about to donate it) --about a year
a '95 Honda Civic (bought in 98 when my wife was worried about the Volvo breaking down) --3 years
a '01 CRV --more than 4 years, currently going to wife in this divorce
a '91 Corolla (bought in Alabama when I graduated OTS to get us to TX because the CRV was still en route from Hawaii) --about 4 years, traded in for:
the '04 Verona, current, plan to keep 5-7 years
What's your list?

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Posted by Nathan at 04:17 PM | Comments (8)
» ResurrectionSong links with: Two Things to Read
New Color-Coded Warning System « Humor »

I'm not sure what to make of this, but I'm linking it nonetheless.

My only question is: how do Amber alerts figure in? Will there someday be Topaz, or Sapphire, too?

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Posted by Nathan at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)
New Car IX « Car Issues »

I think I'm getting completely committed to my Verona. I have Suzuki Media - Auto in my bookmark toolbar so I can check daily for reports.

I usually spend as much time looking for articles about Suzuki cars (not SUVs) as I do looking for news about the Kansas City Chiefs.

Anyway, here's a post on the Suzuki Verona forum at Edmunds that matches my own recent research. This guy noted it in Sept 2003, so I wish I'd stumbled across it when I was researching vehicles, as it would have totally erased any worries about the engine on my part.

I drove several sedans yesterday again. By far the Toyota, Nissan, and Mazda V6 are more powerful engines than the I6 in the Verona, BUT to get a similar equipped car you have to pay between $6000 and $11000 MORE. To compare closest priced vehicles to the $20.5K Verona, we have the V6 Sonata $21,459, I4 Altima $26,171, I4 Camry $25,310, I4 Accord $24,800. NONE of the 4 cylinder engines came close to the smooth transfer of power to the wheels and were much slower off the line to the I6 in the Verona. Here is the short list of what I test drove just yesterday: 1. Verona $20.5K , I6 155HP at 5600RPM with 171FtLbs Torque at 4000rpm. 2. Accord EX Leather $24,800 (no sunroof), I4 160HP at 5500rpm with 161 FtLbs torque at 4500RPM. 3. Camry 2.4L Top of the line with the I4, $25,310, 157HP at 5600RPM with 162 FtLbs Torque at 4000RPM. By far the quietist and smoothest car was the Verona. Interior materials and fit and finish were comparable between all three. The extreme smoothness of the power in the Verona made it seem like it was less powerful, but actual acceleration times were better. It simply did not have much engine noise or vibration at all under hard acceleration. Upon initial impression due to the noise of the 4 cylinder in the Accord it seemed like it had more power, but in reality the Verona was much quicker off the line in normal driving. The Verona is priced like a 4 Cylinder comparable car, but has better low end power like a 6 cylinder engine. If the only gripe is the lack of passing power when compared with more expensive V6 engines, no big deal. Try getting the same passing power out of one of the similarily priced I4 engines. I think the car hits the mark on filling in a GAP left by all the other manufactures, a very smooth, quiet, and easy to drive sedan. The closest comparison in quiet ride is something like the Buick LeSabre, with handling close to the Mercury Sable. Just an all around smooth quiet sedan for $20.5K and under.

Yeah. I got mine for $14.7k. Woot!

At this point, I'm just looking for after-market tuning improvements to boost horsepower or fuel economy...or both.

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Posted by Nathan at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)
Hewitt on Ending the Filibuster « Politics As Usual »
Outside of the war on terrorism, there are few issues that the base of the Republican party deem more significant than the selection and confirmation of judges. It is far more important than tax cutting, far more important than energy policy, far more important than curbing trial lawyers--because the courts ultimately play decisive roles in all of these areas, and more.

The postponements of the confrontation are already having a terrible effect on the Republican base. It is time for Senate Republicans to lead, or to stop pretending to.


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Posted by Nathan at 10:55 AM | Comments (1)
National Identity « China/Taiwan »

The Horse's Mouth wants to start up a discussion of China's Identity.

I hope I didn't already take the answer you were going to make. Go add your thoughts.

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Posted by Nathan at 10:42 AM | Comments (1)
China Vs Japan « China/Taiwan »

Just yesterday, I said this:

And the only other thing that would come close would be the military defeat of Japan.

So what's in the news today?

Naval Clash Feared Between China and Japan:

A ROW between Japan and China intensified yesterday as Tokyo took steps towards granting Japanese companies the right to test-drill for oil and gas in a disputed area of the East China Sea.

China protested furiously. “Japan has come up with a provocation to China’s rights and the norm of international relations,” Qin Gang, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said. “China has already made a protest to Japan, and reserves the right to take further reaction,” he added.

You simply have to read the whole article to understand some of the issues involved. Please do so.

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Posted by Nathan at 09:52 AM | Comments (5)
10k Fugitives Arrested « Social Issues »

The mind boggles at the number.


Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Marshals Service Director Ben Reyna are expected to announce the results of the unprecedented coast-to-coast sweep at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Among the 10,340 people captured between April 4 and April 10 are 162 accused or convicted of murder, 638 wanted for armed robbery, 553 wanted for rape or sexual assault, 154 gang members and 106 unregistered sex offenders.

It looks like AG Gonzales was a better choice than anyone could have guessed.

This is amazing, to say the least. Was it really as simple/easy as this? A week-long focused effort, and 10k fugitives are located, surrounded, captured, and taken into custody? Why wasn't this done before? Did someone have an idea for a unique approach?

This is what an AG should come up with.

I'm sure some libertarian will complain this is a mis-use of federal power and a violation of States' Rights. [/snark]

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Posted by Nathan at 09:46 AM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2005

Nice Point « Link O' Admiration »

He didn't say he got it from somewhere else, so I guess the wisdom is Jay's alone.

What's it about? A brief compare/contrast of "Who Owns Your Body?"

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Posted by Nathan at 11:17 PM | Comments (3)
Practical Joke On Sen. Clinton? « Humor »

Check it out.

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Posted by Nathan at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)
Developments in China « China/Taiwan »

Via Drudge Report comes this account of a riot in Southeastern China. Reading his title, I didn't expect much, and nearly didn't follow the link.

I'm glad I did.

By this afternoon, three days after the riot, witnesses say crowds had convened in Huaxi Village in Zhejiang Province to gawk at a tableau of destroyed police cars and shattered windows. Police officers outside the village were reportedly blocking reporters from entering the scene but local people, reached by telephone, said villagers controlled the riot area.

"The villagers will not give up if there is no concrete action to move the factories away," said Mr. Lu, a villager who witnessed part of the confrontation and refused to give his full name. "The crowd is growing. There are at least 50,000 or 60,000 people."

But the riot described in Huaxi Village is seen as a symptom of the widening social unrest in the Chinese countryside that has become a serious concern for government leaders. Last year, tens of thousands of protesters in western Sichuan Province clashed with the police in a protest over a long-disputed dam project. Smaller rural protests are becoming commonplace and are often violent.

Huaxi Village is a few hours' drive south of Hangzhou, the provincial capital of coastal Zhejiang. It is a short distance from the Zhuxi Industrial Function Zone, the local industrial park that villagers say is home to 13 chemical factories.

"The air stinks from the factories," said a villager, Wang Yuehe. She said the local river was filled with pollutants that had contaminated surrounding farmland.

"We can't grow our crops. The factories had promised to do a good environmental job, but they have done almost nothing."

Mrs. Wang said that villagers had pooled their money for two years and sent representatives to file complaints at government petition offices in Zhejiang Province and in Beijing. "But there have been no results so far," she said.

A reporter for an English-language newspaper in Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post, managed to visit the riot scene and described overturned buses and shattered cars, adding that "a police uniform is draped over one car - a trophy." The reporter , whose account was published today, was detained by the police after leaving the village but released after her notes were confiscated.

So maybe it won't be the internet that brings freedom to China after all.

People, this really is serious.

The people in China did not become Communist out of altruism. They wanted to get filthy, stinking rich. They hung onto that for decades, because the leaders told them their sacrifices were paying off, and they were always just around the corner from true wealth.

When the people finally got sick of that, the government had no choice but to open up the economy. People grew rich, or at least had the opportunity to try; that was good enough for a while.

But people are dying in mines. People in the countryside are apparently being poisoned. And the rural poor are still poor, with no end in sight. They will not be poisoned just so the urban dwellers can get rich. Things will get worse, and riots will get more serious, and more threatening to the govt.

Which is a good thing...

...sort of. Because the more threatened the govt feels, the more they will feel pressured to deliver some concrete gift to the people to buy a few more years or decades of living at the top. The best gift they can think of would be bringing Taiwan back in...forcefully.

And the only other thing that would come close would be the military defeat of Japan.

Neither one bodes well for the stability and security of the globe...

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Posted by Nathan at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)
My Response to Senator Kerry « Politics As Usual »

John Kerry wants to hear about the hardships military members experienced in deploying in the Global War on Terror. Without snark, here's my completely honest reply:

The hardest things I had to deal with were lack of support from home: -people who criticized the war I believed in as being "The wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time". -politicians who refused to authorize funding for petty political reasons -people who insisted that "there never was any WMD in Iraq" meant the invasion was unjustified, when it actually required the invasion to determine the WMD was not present. Everyone believed Iraq had WMD right up until Baghdad fell, no? ...all of which still doesn't mean the WMD wasn't there the month before we went in (destroyed or moved to Syria once the invasion was obvious), or that there wasn't a turnkey program capable of producing tons of WMD within days or weeks (remember the mobile laboratory vans? I never bought the 'weather balloon' nonsensical explanation; only a fool would).

Minor hardships, only. And all well worth it in the pursuit of freedom for the world and security for the United States.

If you are in the military, let him know what you experienced.

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Posted by Nathan at 05:28 PM | Comments (0)
New Car VIII « Car Issues »

Okay, with the help of Consumer Reports "New Car Reviews 2005-6" (or titled something like that), I did some more research on my 2004 Suzuki Verona. I guess I want more evidence I'm not an idiot for this car...

I found out a few things.

First, the car review media seems to have a bias against Suzuki, for some reason.

As I discovered, the difference between a 4-cyl or 6-cyl isn't as big as I thought. So my previous statement of incredulity (echoing the reviewers' criticism) that there are 4-cyl engines that put out nearly as much horsepower as my car's inline 6-cyl needs to be retracted. What makes the difference, it seems, is the amount of displacement of the cylinders. So when you compare my 2.5 liter I-6 to other engines in the 2.3-2.5 liter range (regardless of cylinders), you see that most of them put out between 130 and 160 horsepower. That puts my cars 155-hp at the high end. And while a 4-cyl might get 1-2 mpg better than my car's I-6, they are almost always noisier, rougher, and slower to 60 mph and in the quarter-mile. There are 4 exceptions: the Camry's 4-cyl, the Accord's 4-cyl, the Altima's 4-cyl, and the Mazda 6's 4-cyl, all of which have just about the same horsepower, 3-5 mpg better, and about 1 second faster to 60mph. But they all also cost at least $5000 more for similar equipment, so I don't feel that bad.

I also found that few cars have Continuously-Variable Transmissions, so Suzuki not having that engine to offer doesn't seem so strange, now.

And so, lacking a CVT for smoothness, it seems clear that the Verona used a small-displacement Inline 6-cyl engine for smoothness rather than power or fuel economy. And yet, the Suzuki Verona wasn't the worst at acceleration or fuel economy for that level/size car; rather, that dubious honor belongs to Big 3 vehicles, Kia, Mitsubishi...Hyundai actually seems to be fairly close to the top Japanese cars for engine ability. But Hyundai gets accused of using cheaper materials that break/fall apart/disintegrate before the car is paid off, much less reaches 100k miles. One of the few points of praise the Suzuki Verona and Forenza earn is that they at least use good quality materials that should have a long life...since both Hyundai and Suzuki get points for being good workmanship (from most reviewers), it should be the better materials that sets the Suzuki apart.

Why was Suzuki knocked down for having a substandard engine? True, there are few manufacturers putting out 2.5l 6-cyl engines to compare it to, but you'd think a car reviewer would understand that and critique accordingly.

The media bias was confirmed for me today when I read a complimentary review of the 2006 VW Jetta today. Now, it supposedly will offer a bigger engine in the future, but for right now, all you can get is a 2.4l Inline 5-cyl that produces 150-hp. 5 less than my car. And despite being a much smaller car, it does the 1/4-mile at only .5 seconds faster, and gets to 60mph less than 1 second faster, as well. Yet there were no negative statements of "lacking power" in this review; rather, it said it had just enough power to give the driver confidence. Well, that's what my Verona's engine gives me, in a much bigger, much more comfortable car. And despite using electric steering assist to improve fuel economy, the Jetta only gets 2mpg better than my Verona. Again, in a significantly smaller/lighter car.
...and let's not forget that VW vehicles are known for having electrical problems. And it's not even like the brand-new Jetta looks any better than my car, even. Plus, the Jetta they tested, lacking many of the appointments of my car, starts at $21k, according to the article (the 2005 model starts at $18k and goes up to $25k). $7k is a great deal more money to pay for a car that doesn't perform appreciably better and doesn't look any better, either. So why doesn't the Verona get as much notice as the Jetta, then?

The other thing I noticed from all the reviews I've read is that nearly all criticize the Verona's (and the Forenza's, as well) handling as being "mushy" or "imprecise". I really don't see where they're getting that.

Most reviewers also praise the Ford Focus's first test-drive in the quest that ended with a Verona was a didn't really feel much different than my 1991 Toyota Corolla, to tell the truth. But the first thing I noticed when I test-drove a Forenza was the tightness and response of the steering. I felt like it went exactly where I wanted it to.

That same feeling was in my Verona. I only test-drove it as a comparison point, at that stage. To tell the truth, I was happy enough with the Forenza that I would have purchased it, but the 2005 Forenza had pretty much the same starting price as the 2004 brand-new Verona. It just seemed like there was more room to negotiate a better price on the Verona, then (they were desperate to get it off the lot), and even if I couldn't negotiate much further, it seemed like I was getting a much bigger and better car for the price.

Well, the more I drove my Verona, the more I liked it. I previously said that it seemed to know where I wanted to go before I did. Driving over mountain passes, it took the corners great at high speeds and wet conditions. I found that every time I felt like I was at the edge of the tires' traction (where you would normally brake to retain control), I could actually cut the turn tighter, and the car would settle in and corner like it was on rails. That's not mushy or imprecise.

On a whim, I checked out the review of the CRV (our other car). Guess what? Supposedly it had tight/precise steering...but where it did used to feel nice and tight to me (about the same as my Corolla), it now feels mushy and imprecise compared to my Verona.

What gives?

The other inaccuracies in reviews (one reviewer said the cupholder couldn't hold anything but 120z cans...I found it holds a 44oz cup fine, and more securely than any other car I've been in), the overall wonderful impression I had from the very first time I drove it, and that wonderful impression only being strengthened in the month I've driven it since just makes me think Suzuki is getting a raw deal from car reviewers. Why?

I might think that maybe it's just me; maybe my driving habits and style and preference are different than most other people. Except that my friends all seemed suitably impressed when given a chance to ride and/or drive it themselves. Not enough to make it a wishlist car, no...and they might have just been being polite...[shrug].

All I can say is, if you are considering purchasing a new car, or if you just like going on test-drives, I think you'd be a fool not to include a Suzuki Forenza and Verona on your list of cars to try. At least to have a baseline of what an inexpensive, nice-looking car can be.

If anyone else has test-driven a Forenza or Verona, I'd love to hear what you thought, especially the negatives. Obviously, there is a huge disparity between what the reviewers think and what I think. I'd like to know who is crazy, and I'm okay with it if it turns out to be me.

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Posted by Nathan at 05:07 PM | Comments (2)
Like Western Novels? « Stuff Important to Me »

Then go tell Wadcutter what you like.

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Posted by Nathan at 11:11 AM | Comments (2)
A Few Points About Rep. DeLay (UPDATED) « Media Distortions »

I haven't investigated the alleged charges against Rep. Tom DeLay; people I respect say the charges are weak, probably not illegal or inethical, and most politicians do the same thing.

Here's the first example that last point is true.*

So regardless of what happens to Rep. DeLay in this, maybe the increased scrutiny of this issue may reduce this sort of behavior by politicians of all affiliations. That would be a good thing.

It seems rather politically naive of the Democrats to make this charge at this time, considering how many politicians do the same thing. It's almost like the Democrats are desperate to get any victory over a prominent Republican at just about any cost. That's not very wise, mature, or to their long-term benefit. Then again, I don't think I'd characterize many Democrats as being wise, mature, or concerned about long-term benefits at all, so I guess I'm not surprised.

Finally, it doesn't seem like anyone likes Rep. DeLay much. Not Ace, nor Right Wing Sparkle, just to name two.

And now we hear about Sen. Barbara Boxer and the inestimable Howard Dean.

Glass houses and all that, yo? Word.

Read More "A Few Points About Rep. DeLay (UPDATED)" »

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Posted by Nathan at 11:04 AM | Comments (2)
Remind Me: Which Bias Does Mainstream Media Have? « Media Distortions »

Oh, Yeah: Leftward.

Mickey Kaus has a nice little snark regarding an AP piece. I guess I'm risking a "Fair Use" lawsuit, but I'm going to excerpt the whole thing:

Is this one of those new A.P. Special Sauce ledes?
NEW YORK - Irked by the success of the nationwide Day of Silence, which seeks to combat anti-gay bias in schools, conservative activists are launching a counter-event this week called the Day of Truth aimed at mobilizing students who believe homosexuality is sinful.

a) "Irked." Would they ever say that the Lambda Legal Defense Fund was "irked"? b) Is "conservative activists" really the best phrase to describe the fundamentalist Christians who are sponsoring this anti-homosexuality event? Isn't that a little like identifying sponsors of a gun-control or militantly-pro-choice rally as "liberal activists"? ... The label's both inaccurate and part of the press' tendency to make "conservative" synonymous with the most extreme and moralistic segments of the right. I would say it's a subconscious anti-Republican trope, if I knew what a trope was. [But this isn't in fact an especially biased or hyped up story--it's a perfectly ordinary AP piece-ed. That makes the problem bigger, not smaller.]

I know most of you readers know this already. Some of you may not. Most of you may already know how to read between the lines of a mainstream news media report, but for those of you who don't, this is the sort of thing you need to watch for. This is editorializing masquereding as news reporting. There is a definite slant based on the prejudices of the reporter and/or editor, and as such, it is absolutely not objective reporting.

So even though A.P. is owned by someone rich and therefore supposedly conservative, the liberal bias still manages to slip through, contrary to what liberal media watchdogs would have us believe (i.e., that the news media is actually conservative).

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Posted by Nathan at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)
Guerrilla Warfare « GWOT »

Reading this article, (found through this related them both), I was struck by a realization.

Here's the excerpt that stimulated the thought:

This may well be the most important lesson coming out of the Iraq war. The outcome of major combat operations was never seriously in doubt, although plenty of supposedly serious people predicted the siege of Baghdad would be America's Stalingrad. What was in doubt, however, was whether the U.S. could prevail if the war became an extended test of wills against a determined foe using guerrilla and terrorist tactics. This was a test not of the skill or bravery of the American soldier, but of the home front's willingness to see the war through; a test in which the key to victory wasn't competence but perseverance.

So here's the thought:
How often has anyone beat an insurgency that was using guerrilla tactics? You could say Great Britain has just about done so with the IRA in Northern Ireland...but how many decades did that take? We've just about broken the insurgencies back in just about two years.

Militarily, nearly all the advantages lie with guerrillas. They can hide among the populace. They don't have a large logistic/supply train, so money goes a long way. They can choose the moment and location of the battles. They only have to be successful at the moment of their choosing, whereas the standard defending military force has to be on guard all the time. The language was working against us. The locals' conditioned fear of authority worked against us as well. The Iraqis weren't really on our side at the beginning, either: several polls expressed the commonly-held attitude of "Thanks, US, now get out!". But we didn't, and we managed to not only defeat the insurgency militarily, but also win the support of the people.

Of course, those two are inextricably linked. Everyone loves a winner...especially people who have a sense which side of their bread is buttered, i.e., not wanting to offend someone who might be in charge within a few months.

I have to say I think that defeating the insurgency didn't convince the people to support us as much as eliminate the necessity for them to support the insurgents out of fear.

So how did we beat them?

Persistence. Despite the best efforts of lots of people back home, we didn't cut and run when the body count climbed. One of the best things that happened for us in Iraq was re-electing President Bush, since Senator Kerry all but stated flatly he was going to withdraw the troops regardless of whether we achieved our objectives there or not.

Unambiguous statements of intent to leave when things are stable, repeated often, and backed up with concrete steps in that direction. We stayed out when they formed the council to write their constitution. We stayed out as they fought over the constitution. We turned over more and more functioning to the governing council. We never kept any of the revenues from oil sales. We spent our money rebuilding infrastructure. We turned over full governing to the Transition Government on schedule...actually, a few days ahead of schedule. We worked hard to make sure the elections would happen on time. These are not minor achievements.

Military Intelligence. (.pdf file warning) Even with a populace that wasn't very helpful, we had some of our best minds working to piece together scanty information to locate insurgency leaders and safe house locations. The story of how Army Intelligence located Saddam Hussein is both amusing and amazing. From the linked article, here's a brief summary:

The 4th Infantry Division (ID) captured Saddam Hussein based on intelligence developed from linkpattern analysis. The 4th ID is the most modernized, digitized, and computerized division in the Army, yet intelligence personnel who did the link-pattern analysis did it the tedious, old-fashioned way, using pads of butcher-board paper, yellow stickies, and a large wall chart.7 Some dedicated intelligence personnel did a brilliant job, but time and energy could have been greatly reduced with current software applications
and computerized databases.

Knowing where to hit is far more important than having the ability to hit hard. In fact, the basic idea of military intelligence is gathering enough information to use a minimum of force to achieve the objective. After all, we could have "won" the insurgency by using nuclear weaponry...but everyone in the country would have been dead. If we could get sufficient intelligence that a hat-pin could win a war, we'd do it. Lacking that level of intelligence, we make do with what we have...but we were usually able to get enough intelligence to be able to drop a bomb on the right house/building, or cordon off the right neighborhood.

Military technology. GPS, laser guidance, high-powered computers to calculate damage so we can drop the right size bomb to destroy a safe-house while doing only minor damage to the house right next door, secure communications so support can be called in...
Heck, I know McQ of Q and O Blog won't want to hear this (if he ever stops by and reads my blog), but I think one of the keys to beating the insurgency was that just about every aircraft platform had Close Air Support capability. It didn't matter whether F-15s, F-16s, F/A-18s, HV-8s, or helos were on duty, any one of them could deliver bombs or bullets on target in a timely manner. All of those aircraft have pretty decent dwell times, and the speed available to those aircraft meant they could actually cover much more ground than A-10s (not to mention, no reason to waste the A-10s dwindling remaining life doing patrolling duties).

I could do more research, I guess, to make my point stronger. But mainly, I just wanted to point out that the US military has done something amazing. Not unprecedented, perhaps (except maybe the quickness of success), but truly amazing nonetheless. Many people derided the anti-war advocates' doom'n'gloom predictions of failure and a growing insurgency...but to be honest, history was on the side of such pessimistic pronouncements. We have set a new benchmark of success.

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Posted by Nathan at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)
Looking to the Past

Sometimes I'll get a trackback to an old post*; I have to go read it again, of course, to see what people liked so much. It's like visiting an old friend. Goshdarnit, even it is conceited to say so, I just plain like my thinking.

So I'm going to link one of my old pieces, just for fun.

It's a little musing piece on having the freedom to fail and succeed.

Read More "Looking to the Past" »

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Posted by Nathan at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2005

Terri Schiavo Wrap-Up (UPDATED) « Social Issues »

Yeah, the issue has been pounded. So what?

Over the weekend I talked with friends about the issue. I had a certain impression of issues different from their impressions because they seemed to pretty much depend on mainline news media. I had a difficult time giving any verbal evidence they would accept as credible as CNN. I could point out that the brain scans were 10 years old; I could point out that other credible neurologists gave a different prognosis from the doctor who saw the case. But nothing I said made a dent because I didn't have the links in front of me, and "CNN Said".

So what follows is just the information I found in about 30 minutes of research. If I get in such a discussion again, I'll have more ammunition. Now so will you, if you didn't already.

If anyone knows of any other factual or authoritative collections of material supporting the idea of reasonable doubt toward the PVS prognosis, please leave the link in the comments.

UPDATE: But none of the following points are proof that Terri Schiavo was murdered. All I ever wanted was more time for a thorough review based on current evidence, not a single CT scan more than 10 years old and a prognosis from a single doctor that spent less than an hour with Terri. Don't we usually get 2nd opinions on weighty medical issues?

Read More "Terri Schiavo Wrap-Up (UPDATED)" »

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Posted by Nathan at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2005

Culture of Death, Pt II « Social Issues »

After musing over this, I guess I have to admit that "Culture of Death" is as much of an emotionally-charged propaganda term as a rhetorical shorthand.

I mean, the opposite of "Culture of Death" is "Culture of Life", right? That might be a little unfair.

...except that I can't think of any other way to put it. What I'm objecting to is the thinking exemplified by a "Death is a viable solution" attitude. What I'm supporting is a "Where there is life, there is hope" attitude. My exception is I have no problem with "Do not resuscitate/no heroic measures to sustain life"...because in the case of DNR, the person actually is dead, no? And "heroic measures" are both qualitatively and quantitatively different than just a feeding tube. there a better way to put it? To discuss these disparate viewpoints without using such emotionally-charged terms?

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Posted by Nathan at 11:58 AM | Comments (4)
» Accidental Verbosity links with: The Little Tiny Linkfest: Take a Deep Breath Edition
Culture of Death « Social Issues »

Over the weekend, I was taken to task by my friends for using the term "Culture of Death" in relation to Europe's current society.

I had difficulty defining the term, so the criticism was probably justified. [grin]

But here's an example of it.

Now, Drudge attributes this to "liberals". One thing I've learned through blogging is that you can't really do that...there are too many liberals with too many different views to say things like that. This was one guy doing something he thought was clever, not a leading liberal voice or liberal group.

But here's my point: the "Culture of Death" is the shorthand term for the judgment that "death" is not an absolute, i.e., some deaths can be less bad, and so can be considered roughly equivalent to extreme inconvenience.

For instance, no matter what your opinion of abortion, it cannot be denied that the fetus is a unique genetic sequence (and thus not merely a part of the mother's body), and if left alone, it will grow into a person. The question is whether it is a person or not. The question is when life actually begins, so you can determine whether an abortion ends it or not. But the fetus unquestionably possesses a life force.

The "Culture of Death" sees that life force as incomplete, as-yet-unformed, and so the inconvenience of the pregnancy on the woman is greater than ethical considerations of stopping that life force.

In the same way, the "Culture of Death" looks at the quality of life of disabled individuals and weighs it against the inconvenience of caring for that individual, then makes a judgment as to the advisability of stopping that life force. Other factors include the awareness of the individual, the ability to communicate, the prognosis of recovery, the cost of sustaining life.

I'm not absolutely disdainful of these considerations. I just don't adopt them myself, for the most part. I could probably be criticized because if someone is terminally ill and in extreme pain, I think it is justifiable to give them a risky dose of painkiller to ease their suffering, even if it might kill them (although the decision should rest with the individual, not the family or the doctor...I would prefer lucid agony to pain-free unconsciousness). I could imagine at least one scenario in which I would be willing to kill a friend to end hopeless suffering: if they were being burned alive and there was no hope of extinguishing the flame or rescuing them, I would probably put a bullet in their head for them.

But I am concerned at least, and disdainful at worst, of the attitude/thinking that great inconvenience can ever justify stopping a life force. I am concerned/disdainful because these judgments are made by people in good health, or people still young, or people who have never had short, people who can only project what they might feel in a hypothetical situation, and then saying that since they wouldn't want to be in that situation, it is better to just end the life of the subject.

We are seeing more and more discussions of the advisability of "Culture of Death" judgments. It is chilling to me that ABC News can even ask if it is okay. I find it orrific that doctors are deeply involved in pushing for more euthanasia and assisted suicide protocols/laws. Isn't their primary oath: "First, do no harm"...? How can you justify euthanasia and assisting someone in killing themselves to not be harm?

With the general acclaim for the movie "Million Dollar Baby" among Hollywood elites, with Oregon's Assisted Suicide law (other states may have one, too; I'm just aware of Oregon's), with the arguments and intransigence of the Florida State Supreme Court regarding Terry Schiavo, it is clear that the Culture of Death is strengthening a foothold here in the United States, and it is riding the coattails of abortion rights.

Maybe there is justification for the Culture of Death. I may end up changing my mind as I age and deal with infirmity and the inability to care for myself. But I don't anticipate changing my basic attitudes:
Where there is life, there is hope.
You can grow accustomed to anything.
Stubborn Endurance is rewarded with Strength and Character Growth.
Life is to be savored, at all levels of quality.
There is always something to be learned, or shared, or given.

I really do disdain the thinking that says "death is a solution to pain/inconvenience". I think there is a strong element of that in the advocacy of assisted suicide, euthanasia, and abortion.

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Posted by Nathan at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)
Amendment « Politics As Usual »

I should never say I don't have an opinion.

For instance, within minutes I stumbled across this point, made by Mickey Kaus:

In the post-Warren era, judges don't just have tenure, they have almost uncheckable anti-democratic power. The constitution has been durably politicized in a way the Framers didn't anticipate. Practically every legislative issue can be--and is--phrased in constitutional terms (e.g., as a case of "rights").

I think that is essentially correct, and it worries me. It's why the actions of the judicial branch worried me far more than those of the legislative branch in the Terry Schiavo issue.

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Posted by Nathan at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)
A Few Random Opinions « Humor »

1) Sure.

2) Well, I think I need to do some more research on that before I can have an opinion I feel I can defend.

3) Are you kidding? That would merely hasten the movement for a neo-Anarchist "state", much like we have in Somalia at this very moment!

Read More "A Few Random Opinions" »

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Posted by Nathan at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2005

Aphorism of the Day « Aphorisms »
Hypocrisy is the vaseline of social intercourse. -- Unknown"

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Posted by Nathan at 06:41 PM | Comments (2)

April 09, 2005

False Dichotomies « Politics As Usual »

This article considers it an interesting development that Montana, supposedly a "Red" (or Republican) state, is electing Democrats and passing referendums that aren't typically Republican.

False dichotomy.

Medical marijuana legality is a libertarian issue as much as a Democrat one. While making money is a Republican issue, not being willing to turn your backyard into a cesspool while sending money out of state is a libertarian attitude.

As Americans grow disenchanted with what Republicans have become in the wake of the Democrat implosion, Neo-libertarianism will grow in importance.

In this issue, I'm a follower. I'm not going to sign on to neo-libertarianism, because I don't see how it can work as a political movement. There are too many differing ideas on libertarianism is and should be (which the boys at Q and O Blog are addressing in ongoing discussions), and I just can't get over two basic issues:
1) libertarians and neo-libertarians are both for "maximizing personal freedom", but who can decide when personal freedom begins to impinge on others' freedom except for a large government bureaucracy?
2) Absent the large government bureaucracy, it still seems to me that the logical end of libertarianism is anarchy and 'might makes right'. I can't support that.

However, I support neo-libertarianism as a crucible of excellent ideas and political campaigns. For example, I support the legalization of medical marijuana. I don't support the legalization of drugs in general...but I certainly would support a general govt moratorium on enforcing laws against recreational use (retaining the illegality as an additional charge that can be brought against people who commit crimes while high). Those things aren't going to come about, or be a priority, under Republican leadership.

I think the impetus for sticking to literal interpretations of the US Constitution and a more traditional separation of powers (not allowing legislation from the bench as Democrats currently favor) is going to come from neo-libertarians, as well; not Republicans, because GOP leadership is too accustomed to dealing with and appeasing Democrats and their domesticated MSM attack dog, rather than challenging them.

Here's another discussion of a political development that is probably best viewed as an advancement of neo-libertarianism.

Bonus Extra Point That Probably Deservest To Be A Post Of Its Own So The Point Doesn't Get Buried:
Along with the rise of neo-libertarianism, I have to say that I'm actually glad the issue of Ms. Schiavo came up and was debated. As a society, we learned that not every issue can be easily divided into Left/Right, GOP/Democrat, Liberal/Conservative pairs. The number of traditional alliances that were ruptured over the Schiavo issue is staggering. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton came down on different sides! We saw which liberals truly are compassionate, and which are truly cold-hearted and cold-blooded. We saw different groups gaining a new respect for each other. We learned that you cannot take for granted what someone's socio-political opinion will be on an issue.

Bottom line: as divisive and heated as the arguments were, I think the erasure/redrawing of battle-lines will be good for the future of politics and political parties in the US. Ms. Schiavo is a martyr, but her death will not be in vain.

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Posted by Nathan at 11:15 AM | Comments (3)

April 08, 2005

Update From The Road « Blogging »

I'm in the middle of the Brain Fertilizer Farewell Tour, Part II (leaving Spokane for Hawaii, where I will resume full-time blogging), and we're hanging out in a bar that has Wi-Fi.


In any case, I haven't been paying much attention to the news, so I have nothing to really blog about.

On the other hand, I have found a new taste treat. You know how people like to add fruit to breakfast foods? Adding strawberries to their Cheerios or bananas to Wheaties, and the like. Well, I've found (completely by accident, I assure you) that celery actually makes a great taste combination with Cocoa Puffs. I have eaten nearly every chance I can on this trip. It's like I'm obsessed.

Read More "Update From The Road" »

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Posted by Nathan at 01:59 PM | Comments (2)

April 06, 2005

More RMBB Pictures « Blogging »

Altered to protect the guilty:

Read More "More RMBB Pictures" »

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Posted by Nathan at 09:37 PM | Comments (5)

April 05, 2005

Public Service Announcement, Leaving On A Jet Plane Edition « Stuff Important to Me »

For those of you who have it, my work address is no longer in service. I'll let you know when my new one comes on line.

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Posted by Nathan at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)
China's New Path to Freedom? « Blogging »

Check out what's going on over here.

In short, Canada tried to restrict political blogging in Canada. Canadian bloggers are reacting as you might expect: some are curtailing their political commentary, some are refusing to comply, some are treating the blogosphere geographically (as in, they won't post political commentary on their site, but feel comfortable doing so on, say, Free Republic).

The restriction on internet freedom in China is legendary. But there are always ways to work around blocks and filters and such. One interesting aspect of the Canadian blogger restriction is someone referred to the power of "American Blogosphere". From The Belmont Club (and blockquoted by Michelle Malkin):

Like the Rathergate and Swiftvets story, the scene seems set for an invisible and unacknowledged meme to exert a powerful influence on mainstream news. One poster at Free Dominion said Canada was about to experience the power of the American blogosphere.
The idea of an 'American blogosphere' is a curious concept. One Canadian poster, who balked at relating what he knew about the Liberal Party scandal on the Free Dominion because of the publication ban, suggested he and his buddies continue their conversation at the FreeRepublic, like they were crossing the border and going from Windsor to Detroit. Whether that made it all nice and legal I'll leave to the lawyers but a certain amount of absurdity suggested itself in the situation.

This highlights the impact that Internet self-publishing has had in breaking down political systems, whether peaceably (as in the case of Canada and the US) or not-so-peaceably as exemplified by Iran. Because the exercise of authority consists largely of information control (rather than physical control) by the State, Internet self-publishing has effectively weakened large areas of state power by weakening those controls. As a practical matter, there is not a judge in the world that can realistically enforce a gag order unless he can a) prevent the source leak or b) force compliance on all continents and seas of the planet earth.

This is a pretty heady concept. Many people (me included) have assumed that China's political freedom would eventually come through its economic freedom. That's still possibly a true statement, since the Chinese need enough economic freedom to purchase computers and internet service...but the lesson from this is that if bloggers in free nations set their blogsights on a corrupt/restrictive institutions that are at least partially dependent on public opinion, well, the pressure can be amazing. Maybe all we need to bring about freedom in China is an intense blog campaign against the Chinese government, complete with pressure on our own governments to censure, demarche, or otherwise express our disapproval?

Would the martyrs of Tian'anmen Square have purchased more freedom with their blood and breath for their nation if the blogosphere had existed then?

Mind you, I doubt that the blogosphere could be deliberately and effectively organized by an outside force for socio-political good, like a peace march or anything. The blogosphere is the sum of its parts, in that its direction comes from thousands of individuals making their own personal decisions, and more than the sum of its parts when you consider the amount of pressure it (the blogosphere) can bring onto a specific institution when aroused. And even if I'm expressing it badly, my point is that the blogosphere could only affect a totalitarian government like China's if enough people become concerned about situations and actions there. I probably couldn't make transforming China my pet project and get much traction in the blogosphere toward applying pressure. But if something like the Tian'anmen Square Massacre happens again, I don't think China's government would last a year.

As Archimedes said:

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.

The Blogosphere is just about the biggest damn lever* our world has seen, I think. And getting longer all the time.

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Posted by Nathan at 08:26 AM | Comments (1)
» A Bellandean! God, Country, Heritage links with: China: Hope and Worry
RMBB Pictures « Blogging »

I've been informed that some people don't want their unaltered image placed on the web. So while those are being altered to protect the not-so-innocent, I thought I'd supply you a picture of our bartendress, the lovely Kathryn. No, I'm not sure that's how she spells her name, it just sounded like that. No, I'm not giving her the choice to not have her picture on the web, so, yes, I guess I'm violating her privacy somehow. Except that I did ask to take her picture so I could put in on the web, and she acquiesced to the shot, so there.

She was in mid-blink...

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Posted by Nathan at 06:34 AM | Comments (4)
New Car VII « Car Issues »

My car performed admirably last weekend. I drove from Bozeman down to Denver one day, then two days later drove the entire way from Denver up to Spokane.

I have never driven such a comfortable car. I felt no fatigue at all in the first 10.5 hour trip, even though I stopped only for gas and bathroom stops. I only felt a minor stiffness that I shook of in 2-3 minutes of stretching. On the way back, I felt no fatigue, stiffness, or pain at all in the first 15 hours. My legs did start hurting somewhat in the last hour; I guess sitting in the car seat for those 15 hours did finally affect circulation enough that my knee hurt for about 30 minutes after I got home.

But I still cannot believe it. I have never driven in a car that didn't cause fatigue/pain within 6-7 hours until now!

It got 28 mpg the entire trip, even with strong headwinds for a few hours, and going over several mountain passes. The cruise control was rock steady, keeping me at 80 mph the whole trip. Only going over the Continental Divide was the road steep enough that I felt it better to turn off the cruise control and adjust my speed according to the slope...but I still kept it at at least 70 mph. With every other car I've driven, if I have to slow down, I accelerate back up to my desired speed before hitting "resume", to avoid the jerkiness of overacceleration and speed overshoot. But in my Verona, it smoothly and quickly made up 10-mph deficits and stopped precisely and smoothly at the old speed.

I know, I keep using "smooth" as an adjective, but that's the best word for it.

I got a couple glances at my car, too. A guy at a convenience store obviously glanced down at the badge to see what car it was, and even a construction flagman turned to look at my car after I passed it. Yeah, that's a little bit of an assumption on my part as to why, but all I can tell you is the expression and body language seemed to be, "Huh. Nice car...what brand?"

This car was made to cruise, and not just look good but feel good doing it. If you commonly travel long distances in your vehicle, I'd highly recommend a Suzuki Verona.

It's still too early to say definitively there are no quality issues, but after one month and 4k miles, there's still not a single squeak or rattle.

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Posted by Nathan at 06:24 AM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2005

PP Mus Be Proud « Social Issues »

Isn't this what Planned Parenthood specifically says is one good way to prevent pregnancy?

Gotta give a good shout-out to all the deceptively-named "Abstinence Plus" program advocates, too.

Yay, liberals! You have had some success in creating the society you want. I hope you like it.

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Posted by Nathan at 11:44 AM | Comments (3)
Post-Bash Report « Blogging »

Like I said, pictures won't be up until this evening.

Some other post-bash reports:
Steve of Wadcutter


The Libercontrarian (who had this cool Borg-like cellphone attached to his ear)

A Bellandean

Freedom Sight

Darren, the Colorado Conservative

My thoughts? Funny you should ask.
First, the slight-less-than-48-hours I spent there were nothing short of awesome. I can't remember the last time I was in such an intellectually intense environment. I was constantly challenged with Good Ideas and Good Thought from David, from Andy, from all the people I met at the bash (Scott, Darrn, Matt, Steve, Stephen, Jeff, Robin, Ally...) I learned from hearing ideas I had never considered before; I learned from attempting to share my ideas with people bright enough to spot flaws and/or improve each aspect. I learned from watching people interact. I learned from listening to Jeff G. and Stephen G., et al, engage Chris in a uniquely entertaining discussion of the problems with and evils of Bush and the Republicans (at least, that's what I got out of it).

I tried to float and meet people and take pictures and make a few blog entries. I think that might have worked to my detriment, as I didn't get into near as many extensive conversations as I see other people did in the above post-bash reactions. Dang.

Perhaps I was too intimidated to actually share ideas with Jeff G. and Stephen G.? Perhaps I have too little experience in bar gatherings to know how to mingle well?* Perhaps I'm just a social idiot? Probably a little of all of the above.

I did meet lots of cool people, and that will certainly lead to an updated blog-roll and more visits to the people I met. I have to tell you, even if the person doesn't exactly meet your expectations**, knowing the person behind the blog is always better.

Greatest Missed Opportunity to Make a Pun That Probably Would Have Gotten Me In a Great Deal of Trouble:

Stephen Green (holding a pool cue): Wow, Matt! That is the crookedest rack I have ever seen!

Possible response: "To which lady were you referring?"

I intended to buy lots of people more drinks. The 3 times I tried to buy someone a drink, they told me they were drinking water or not drinking or stopping so they could drive home. I could have sworn I bought Zombyboy a drink, at least, but it didn't show up on my tab...
I didn't inflict anyone with a single off-the-cuff pun the entire evening. Or the entire weekend, as I recall. I must be slipping.

Sort-of Embarassments:
I never expected how self-conscious it would make me to have someone whose intelligence and ability I respected as much as Stever of Wadcutter say that he read me regularly.
I never expected how self-conscious it would make me to have one of my original readers/commenters (Matt of Roverpundit fame) be present. When I think of some of the self-important crap I was putting out back then. Well, yeah: the stuff I put out now is still crap, but at least I've done a better (if incomplete) job of taking out the "self-important" part.
I didn't really expect it to bother me so much to hear someone say, "You are much more conservative than I am". I like my beliefs; I've thought long and hard about them, and I think I have good reasons for the conclusions I've reached and the views I advocate. There are a wide range of opinions I respect without actually agreeing with, as well. Someone, despite my attempt to remain independent-minded, I have assimilated the MSM's constant refrain that "conservative" is somehow bad, "moderate" is somehow courageous, and "liberal" is somehow saintly. Bah. No more excuses for my beliefs. Simply put: I advocate what I advocate on the basis of how I've seen the world work. I'm not going to force my views on anyone, but I will continue to try to convince people that a conservative and moral approach to life, as based on accumulated wisdom, is the best way for you to be happy and content, and to help those around you be happy and content. That's my ideology in a nutshell; take it or leave it.

Okay, that's all I can think of right now. I will be adding more as I remember what I wanted to say. Probably new posts rather than updating this one. Please set your bookmarks accordingly.

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Posted by Nathan at 11:12 AM | Comments (6)
» ResurrectionSong links with: Blogger Bash 4.0: Where the Hell Were You?
» Publicola links with: A Bash Of Bloggers
Moral Majority/Religious Right/Christian Conservatives « Media Distortions »

A slightly tangential reaction to these two posts:

To understand why the "religious right" isn't homogeneous or monolithic, you have to understand religion in America in the first place. Go figure.

Consider that Catholics are religious, and yet usually don't get included. Consider that Protestants run the gamut from snake-handlers, to Assembly of God (if people aren't crying when they pray, Jesus isn't there), to Pentacostals (women can't cut hair or wear pants, TV not allowed), to semi-heretical, semi-cultish Christian sects, to Southern Baptists, to Mormons, to gay-bishop-ordaining Episcopalian, to Lutherans (which range from extreme conservative to extreme liberal). Try to find agreement among those different denominations on alcohol, or dancing, or what communion means...then try to explain how they could all hold the same political view on anything; I'll be rolling on the floor laughing before you are halfway done.

I'm religious. I'm conservative. I make political decisions based on what my faith has told me is true about human nature. I approved of what the Florida legislature and the US Congress did in attempts to try to save Ms. Schiavo's life. Does that make me a member of the Religious Right? Heck, no: I don't like and don't approve of just about everything Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell say, politically.

President Bush identifies himself as a Methodist. Does anyone even know what the Methodist church is like? Sure, there are various branches of Methodists, but the denomination's leadership put out a hymnal in the 90s with all masculine references to God removed. Does that sound fundamentalist?


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Posted by Nathan at 09:04 AM | Comments (1)
» Sharp as a Marble links with: Theocraziness - Now In Right Wingnut Flavor
Back Safely « Stuff Important to Me »

I just wanted everyone to know: the first leg of my "Farewell Tour" has been completed successfully and safely. I'm back home and none the worse for wear from my 16-hour driving marathon.

...I love my car! More on everything later. Pictures will not be up until this evening.

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Posted by Nathan at 06:32 AM | Comments (1)

April 02, 2005

RMBB v4.0.3 « Blogging »

...maybe I should have posted these under "social issues...."

Ah, well. Next time I'll make a special category for the special type of madness that goes on here.

They closed the bar at midnight! What is wrong with these people!!

Ah, well. I've had a blast tonight. I know I'm going to be reading and linking people in the coming days whom I had never even heard of before tonight. Good has been done here.

...although I never expected I would feel so...embarassed, say, to have someone tell me they read my blog every day. I feel like such a celebrity!

Sort of. I mean, I did stand next to Jeff G. for fifteen minutes at the bar for a while. I talked with Stephen Green about digital cameras, and he didn't once refer to me as a mere insect! What a rush! [grin]

Yeah, I sort of feel like Navin Johnson. Sue me.

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Posted by Nathan at 10:47 PM | Comments (0)
» A Bellandean! God, Country, Heritage links with: Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash
RMBB v4.0.2 « Blogging »

Despite my best half-hearted efforts, I haven't been able to get a decent drunk on. Which is probably good, since I have a long, long way to drive tomorow.

I've had a good time talking with bunches of people. Jeff G. has an adorable child, although he is still somewhat too leery of strangers (the child, not Jeff...although Jeff might be, as well...I shall check).

The bartendress has been quite awesome...although the lack of a blender has meant I have been entirely unable to fulfill my desire for a frozen drink. Ah, well, the Beam shot was nice, as have been the Guiness bottles. I shall provide a picture of her on Monday.

Are there any specific questions any of you might want me to ask of anyone in particular?*

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Posted by Nathan at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)
» A Bellandean! God, Country, Heritage links with: Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash
RMBB v4.0.1 « Blogging »

Everyone is still having a good time!

Can you believe it?

I've had some great conversations already. I've learned that despite my misapprehensions, strategy war-gaming is alive and well (Avalon Hill-type stuff, if that means anything to you). I've learned quite a bit about raising puppies in preparation for them becoming working (assistance) dogs, and how tough it is to give them up. I've seen Stephen Green play pool*.

All in all, a fascinating evening with a bunch of fascinating people.

Again: woot.

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Posted by Nathan at 07:24 PM | Comments (0)
» A Bellandean! God, Country, Heritage links with: Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash
RMBB v4.0 « Blogging »

Live Blogging is now initiated!!!!!

We have:
uh, Me, Zombyboy or ResurrectionSong, and...other people. Honestly, people, there are too many of the Denver bloggers here for me to remember 'em all, so rather than offending someone who I've forgotten, I'm gonna stop there. Suffice to say there's a bunch of newly-met-and-still-unfamiliar faces.

Screw it.

The important thing is: we're having fun and drinking, and if you are reading this, you probably arent. Hah! You just gotta make the next one.

Pictures will follow on Monday.


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Posted by Nathan at 06:31 PM | Comments (0)
» A Bellandean! God, Country, Heritage links with: Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash
RMBB v4.0 Notice « Blogging »

Hey, yo:
One of the great things about coming in from out of town is you get to participate in all sorts of "initiation" activities like this one.

Much fun. Good times. Scary Stuff.

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Posted by Nathan at 02:32 PM | Comments (0)