April 30, 2006

Yahoo! Answers

I just discovered a mildly interesting new time-waster. Just when I need it most, at the start of finals.

It's called Yahoo! Answers. Okay, help me out here. One question posed by a member of the Yahoo! teeming millions is "Why do so many liberals drive imported cars?" I posted my answer, can you find it? And do you have your own theories to add?

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Rice Rockets, Hot Rods, Chicks, Rock & Roll

Fans of the above might want to check out the Godsmack video on Pursuit's sidebar.

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Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 24

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April 29, 2006

NFL Draft

I'm sorry. Did somebody scoff when I suggested that the Titans might take Young? I don't remember.

Oh, and with Leinart available, the Oakland Raiders pick... a safety?!?!!?

Update: Alright sports fans, go to Cagey Mind and Six Meat Buffet for real draft analysis.

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Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episodes 22 & 23

Peter Pumpkin's day off continues.

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Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.

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April 28, 2006

Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 21

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United 93

I just got done seeing United 93. I don't mind telling you that I hate them. I truly hate them. If I could get my hands on a jihadist right now, I would easily and gladly kill him.

I never want to hear another word about Guantanamo Bay, or rendition, or the fucking cartoons, or how we should be nice nice. I could flush a thousand Korans down the toilet right now. Fuck them.

Fuck them.

Go see the movie. It's done in a gritty, matter-of-fact, almost documentary style. It increases the feeling that you are watching real events. Which is important because these were real events. It actually happened. There are no viewpoint characters, which allows the audience a certain distance from the very horror of that day. But it also makes you want to yell at the screen, "no, no, no, don't you see what's happening!"

To those who said "it's too soon," (and I'm not sure that story wasn't an urban myth blown out of proportion by the anti-American media) I wonder how such weak people ever get out of bed in the morning. I'm sure the passengers on flight 93 thought it was "too soon" too. I'm sure they would have liked a little more time. But in this world, sometimes there are unpleasant realities that must be confronted. And thank God there are still people who will do what needs doing when the time comes.

Update: RightGirl is pissed too.

Joshua and Josue have similar thoughts as well as names.

And see Rich Lowry's column too.

And definitely see Cranky Insomniac take apart WaPo's hit piece on the movie.

Probably the best review you'll find is by Ms. Underestimated. Smash's is also a must read.

And welcome Hot Air fans!

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April 27, 2006

Coolest Thing On The Internets Of The Day ... Period

Get a box of tissues first.

Via Shelly.

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Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 20

Where he at?

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April 26, 2006

Gas Prices

At the risk of inviting corrections by commenters who know more about economics than me (I got a B in my one and only economics class, so don't even try. I say that not to imply that I am a whiz on the subject. Rather, I say that to let you know that I really know very little about it. Thus any attempts to enlighten me will simply cause more confusion. I have a basic grasp of supply and demand, and that's about it. I also know that if I were to ask ten knowledgeable people what they think we should do about gas prices, I'd get ten wildly different analyses.), here's my analysis.

  • I think that if gas prices get up to $4 per gallon this summer, all hell will break loose.

  • I think that the oil companies would love to see gas prices at $4 per gallon, even if only for a moment, just to break that psychological consumer barrier.

  • I think oil companies are toying with us.

  • According to my memory, it took a long time for gas to get from $1 to $2, but not very long for it to get to $3.

  • I don't believe in, nor do I participate in any of those boycotts promoted in chain e-mails. They've never worked. I don't believe they can work. And they hurt the retailer, whom I don't blame at all anyways.

  • I don't really have a problem with oil company executives making big salaries. Nor do I have a problem with professional athletes' or entertainers' salaries for that matter. If someone is willing to pay that kind of money, then that means they're worth it. That's the free market.

  • I do have a problem with all the extra taxes included in the price of gallon of gas. They're like sin taxes, which I also oppose. I've never liked the idea of using taxation as a means of influencing human behavior.

  • However, isn't the high price of gas the best way to encourage conservation? If you look at it that way, environmentalists should be happiest of all with prices the way they are now. I know as far as I'm concerned, the cleverest PSA ad on tv will not get me to change my driving behavior as much as one $49 fill-up.

  • Someone told me yesterday that she was planning on replacing her car with a hybrid or a diesel "because of all these wars for oil." I replied, facetiously, that I was planning on eliminating all plastics from my life for the same reason. "I'm going all wood from now on." She didn't get it.

  • Do I think prices are being manipulated? Yes, that's my gut feeling. But when people tell me (usually with conviction) why they think prices are not being manipulated, I don't know enough about the market to make a counter-argument. In the end, I still believe prices are being manipulated. It's just natural cynicism at work. And, it's probably true.

  • I'm all for drilling in ANWR. But that's a short term solution, that won't pay off much, and will take a while to kick in. It's certainly not the answer to all our problems as guys like Hannity and Rush would have us believe.

  • I don't want nuclear power though.

  • I think hybrids should be getting much better gas mileage than they do. It seems to me an old Metro or Honda CRX got better mileage in its day than most hybrids today.

  • People who buy cars that require premium unleaded belong in a mental institution.

  • My last car got 35 miles to the gallon consistently. That was until it had to go in for its two year smog cert, required by California. In order to pass it, the smog guys had to fuck with the engine and it was never the same again. I lost like ten mpg, and used way more gas to go the same distance. But hey, at least California said it didn't pollute anymore! Idiots.

  • Don't talk to me about price controls. Always a bad idea. Of course, it's not like I have any suggestions of my own.

  • I hear lots of talk about how envirowackos won't allow new refineries to be built. I hear less talk about how oil companies also don't want new refineries to be built. I believe both are true.

  • I also hear lots of talk about how China is to blame. I totally agree with this. From what I understand, if you fill a Chinese car's tank with gas, a half hour later you gotta fill it up again.

  • To reiterate, and in closing: if gas prices get up to $4 a gallon this summer, all hell will break loose.
That's all I got.

For more serious blogging on the subject, see Pursuit.

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Schlesinger's Latest Revisionism

Interesting Article over at NRO today which touches on a subject Will and I discussed in the comments section some weeks ago: Kennedy and the threat of force in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I believe that Kennedy’s peaceful resolution of the crisis was made possible by his readiness (though clearly not willingness) to use force if necessary, despite the consequences. Or at least that he saw the value in the Soviets thinking the confrontation might “go hot.”

Now, historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., has a totally different take on Kennedy’s Cold War strategy. I read the Schlesinger piece a few days ago and was somewhat bewildered at the revisionism of it. In the NRO piece, Michael Knox summarizes Schlessinger’s weird logic, with heavy sarcasm:

According to Professor Schlesinger, the Missile Crisis was successfully resolved because Kennedy “was determined to get the missiles out peacefully.” Once the president had the wisdom to dispense with all bellicose courses and adopt this thoroughly pacific policy, all difficulties vanished; the Soviet Union, impressed, doubtless, by the president’s conciliatory intentions, his manifest goodwill, and the justice of his arguments, embraced his proposals, and the missiles were promptly carried off. Kennedy followed this success, Professor Schlesinger informs us, by calling on both Americans and Russians to reexamine their “attitude” towards each other, “for our attitude,” the president said, “is as essential as theirs.”

So successful a strategy deserves a universal application. If the United States would only make it clear that its policy is always to act peacefully, and that it will never use what Professor Schlesinger calls “preventive” force, its diplomacy would proceed smoothly. It is the saber-rattling of men like President Bush that creates the danger, Professor Schlesinger contends; a thoroughly Quaker policy will dissipate it.

It’s sad, but I think Schlesinger has completely thrown away any credibility he ever had (based on the fact that he knew JFK initmately) by favoring Bush-bashing over logical analysis.

More: I can only describe Schlesinger's statement that an Iran war would be based on "fantasy, deception and self-deception," as idiotic.

Look, no serious person can argue that nuclear weapons in the hands of an Iranian religious dictatorship would not be a very bad thing. Or do Schlesinger and those of his ilk deny that Arab nations have tried to destroy Israel multiple times in the past? (And yes, I know that Persians aren't Arabs.) It goes beyond revisionism to deny that they might still want to destroy Israel. Especially since they say so just about every five minutes.

The only reason Israel wasn't destroyed before now was because their enemies have never been strong enough to beat the IDF. That, plus the fact that the ultimate gaurantor of Israel's existence was the American nuclear arsenal. Now, what if a sworn enemy of Israel were to come into possession of a great "equalizer," which could negate Israeli superiority and American might. Given all their previous attempts to destroy Israel, is it such a stretch to believe that a muslim nation might try again?

And another thing. Liberals are so hot to get our troops out of Iraq as soon as possible. Yet why do so many of them say that we should do nothing about Iran? What do they think would happen if Iran got the bomb?

I'll tell you. We would have Cold War II at the very least. Once Iran gets the bomb, our whole strategy would have to change from pre-emption to deterrence. Western Europe in the Cold War would be the template. Yes, that means we would have to deploy nuclear missiles in Iraq! We'd have no choice. And that means we could never leave. I don't know why nobody is mentioning this, but it's plain as the nose on your face.

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Inside Al Qaeda Tech

Forget Frontline. The inside stuff on the insurgency can be found at Iowahawk.

For instance, this fascinating account of a secret planning conversation between Zarkawi and Zawahiri, as recalled by Zarkawi himself:

I grabbed a pile of my project folders and headed for the conference room, and the crapstorm commenced before my ass hit the carpet.

“Abu, as you know, AQI is all about creating a scalable paradigm for enabling global caliphate,” he says. “But lately, I have been concerned that we’ve had some performance leakage in our Total Quality Jihad plan.”

Okay, maybe I don’t have a fancy ass Master of Martyr Administration from Damascus Tech, but I saw where this shit was going.

“Well, Ayman, sure, we’ve had a couple of tough quarters, but if you look at these clippings from the infidel press and TV, you can see we are still in a net positive PR situation, and... “

“How many associates did we lose in Q1?”

Fuck. Since when does he start asking direct questions? I start fumbling around with my folders.

“I’ll tell you Abu. 1,256.” And then he’s off to the races, with a 45 minute firehose of PowerPoints and Excel pie charts detailing every mosque bombing screwup, every wipeout with Team Satan, every stupid Iraqi anti-Al Qaeda protest.

“At the end of the day, Abu, the AQ family needs to deploy our resources for maximum Return-on-Jihad,” he says. Then he drops the bomb: “It’s time we think about right-sizing the organization vis-à-vis the Baghdad Region.”

Oh, dandy. He says we can accomplish it through attrition, but now it looks like I’m going to have to start emailing pink slips AND condolence letters. I’m not even sure how safe my own damn job is. I was gonna call Fatima and my other babies’ mamas and tell ‘em to cancel the family Mecca trip, but that’d just buy me a week of nonstop nagging.

Via Blogger Ale, who wants your beer opinion.

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Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Something different this week. Fifty-three years ago tomorrow, Sylvia Plath attended a party at which W.H. Auden gave a reading. Using her own distinctive style, Plath described the great poet in her Journal.*

To set the scene, Plath was 20 years old, and a junior at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Auden was 46 years old and a visiting professor at Smith, although I don't know whether Plath took his class. 1953 was also the year that Auden moved in with his longtime companion, the poet Chester Kallman.

The party took place at the home of Sylvia Plath's English professor, 66 year old Elizabeth A. Drew. That semester, Plath was enrolled in Drew's Modern English Poetry class.

Finally, a bit of foreshadowing. Four months after this party, Plath would survive the first of her many suicide attempts. Despite missing a semester after her near overdose of sleeping pills, she graduated in 1955, summa cum laude. She would go on to study at Cambridge, meet and marry poet Ted Hughes, and the rest is history.

But here's what she thought of Auden:


April 27 [1953] - Listen and shut up, oh, ye of little faith. On one certain evening in a certain year 1953 a certain complex of pitched tensions, physiological urges, and mental dragonflies combined to fill one mortal imperfect Eve with a fierce full rightness, force and determination corresponding to the ecstasy experienced by the starving saint on the desert who feels the crackling cool drops of God on his tongue and sees the green angels sprouting up like dandelion greens, prolific and infinitely unexpected.

. . .

Tonight, spring, plural, fertile, offering up clean green leaf whorls to a soft moon covered with fuzz-fractured clouds, and god, the listening to Auden read in Drew's front living room, and vivid questioning, darting scintillant wit. My Plato! pedestrian I! And Drew, (exhuberant exquisitely frail intelligent Elizabeth) saying, "Now that is really difficult."

Auden tossing his big head back with a twist of wide ugly grinning lips, his sandy hair, his coarse tweedy brown jacket, his burlap-textured voice and the crackling brilliant utterances -- the naughty mischievous boy genius, and the inconsistent white hairless skin of his legs, and the short puffy stubbed fingers -- and the carpet slippers -- beer he drank, and smoked Lucky Strikes in a black holder, gesticulating with a white new cigarette in his hands, holding matches, talking in a gravelly incisive tone about how Caliban is the natural bestial projection, Ariel the creative imaginative, and all the intricate lyrical abstruosities of their love and cleavage, art and life, the mirror and the sea. God, god, the stature of the man. And next week, in trembling audacity, I approach him with a sheaf of poems. Oh, god, if this is life, half heard, glimpsed, smelled, with beer and cheese sandwiches and the god-eyed tall-minded ones, let me never go blind, or get shut off from the agony of learning, the horrible pain of trying to understand.

Tonight: the unforgettable snatching of toothpicks and olive pits from the tables of the ambrosial gods!


Plath's journal entries from this period do not strike me as being written by someone who was particularly depressed. On the contrary, what I get is a sense of her overwhelming curiosity, ambition, and talent.
_______________

* The Unabridged Journals Of Sylvia Plath, pp. 179-180.

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Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 19

For all you Phineas fans out there.

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April 25, 2006

AI Blogging

I had no intention of liveblogging AI tonight, but the first third has been so eventful, I can't help it.

Paula's meds need adjusting again. Urgently.

I was blown away by Kat. The judges were listening to a different performance. She should be safe though, I think her split second fuzz flash will ensure that.

Is Andrea Boccelli blind? I had no idea. I can name a dozen legitimate opera singers that are ten times better than him. I never understood his popularity until now.

Eliott Yao Ming was fantastic.

Pickler's "Unchained Melody?" Chain it back up again, I'm begging you.

Paris did not impress me. She sounded a bit like Gladys Knight in the beginning, which made me wish I was listening to Gladys instead. I didn't like the arrangement either.

Black velvet? I think Taylor has dandruff. I agree with Randy and Simon, a karaoke and lounge act. I can't put my finger on why, but Taylor has been sucking lately. I think he has mastered one genre, and outside it he's really unremarkable.

Chris looked hott. I totally love him. The performance could've used one or two more rehearsals. I liked the flamenco style of it, but Chris and the guitars seemed out of synch during the first half. He finished strong though.

The top three are clear: Eliott, Kat and Chris. However, the judges screwed it for Kat, and Taylor's fans are loyal. They will prop him up in the voting. Probably Kellie's fans will do that too, though she was the weakest of the six tonight. All of this makes me afraid for Eliott. If he goes tomorrow it will be a travesty.

So vote for Eliott.

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What If Annika Had Lived In 1905?

Via the Maximum Leader, this site purports to show what my life would have been like if I had lived in Edwardian England.

The result is a little disappointing:

You live alone and have a private income!
- A Snapshot of your life as it might have been in 1905

Education
Your parents will send you to a private school and despite the fact that you are bright and enjoy school you'll leave at 16.

Career Prospects
When you're young you'll do some household chores but won't do any work in the kitchen. When your mother dies you'll be left the house and a private income and your spinster friend will come to live with you. You'll believe strongly in the need to improve the quality of food and sanitation for the poor so you'll join a commission on public health and campaign for improvements.

Leisure Time
You'll eat your main meal - meat and vegetables - in the evening, except on Sundays. You'll support the church by sewing kneeler covers, arranging flowers and raising money for charity. You'll learn the piano and enjoy going to the theatre and musical concerts in the local town. Every week you'll make time to borrow books from the mobile library that will pass through your village.

Living Conditions
You'll employ two servants who live in your house but will be unimpressed with the quality of their work.

Marital Relations
You'll be engaged to a man from the parish but he'll be killed at war. You'll never marry which will set you apart from most of your contemporaries.

World War One
When World War One starts you'll join a women's auxiliary force and will survive to be awarded a 1914 Star and a bronze Victory Medal.

Pity about my fiancé. He must have been Russian, or possibly Japanese, because I don't know of any other European wars that were going on in 1905. The Boer War had just ended and I think Britain remained at peace until the Great War.

Hat tip: Naked Villainy.

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Coolest Thing On The Internets Of The Day

For those who have not yet heard about Michelle Malkin's great new website, Hot Air, go check it out now.

And today's coolest most bizarre thing is from Doug TenNapel. Sick, but hilarious.

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Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 18

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April 24, 2006

Meet Mistress Annika

Allow me to introduce you to Mistress Annika:

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Annika's Journal reader Hannes has bestowed the distinct honor of naming his newly purchased Yugoslavian M48 Mauser after yours truly! Here's how this all came about:

[I]t is a variant of "der Mauser Karabiner 98k". Yes, in 1898 this was considered a carbine! The design dates back that far, but this one rolled off the line in Yugoslavia in the late 40's or early 50's. Designated the M48, it was built in a factory that not been bombed out using captured German machine tools and designs. It was meant as a military surplus rifle for issue to reserve troops and sales to various conflicts around the world at the time. . . . My new toy has been sitting in a warehouse only to be test fired every five years. It may be 50 to 60 years old, but for all intents and purposes, it is brand new.

I wasn't planning on buying a Mauser when I walked into that gun store three-plus weeks ago . . . . I picked up a brand new M1 Garand and liked it until I saw the price tag: $2700. Yeesh! It's a shame I don't have any children, because then I could sell them to a wandering band of gypsies and buy the thing. Plus maybe some ammo.

Finally I relented and asked what was all the way in the back row right where the shotguns start -- their lowest priority rifle sales location. "The one with the hogsticker," I said. I was expecting it to be yet another Chinese SKS with a folding bayonet ... yawn!

The saleman said, "That's a Mauser."

Hannes thinks, "Mmmmmm, Mauser!"

So I bought the thing right then and there for half the price I was going to pay for the jilted rifle, complete with its first aid kit for wounded jihad monkeys ... er, I mean the bayonet! How insensitive of me.

But enough about the rifle, let's talk about the bullet. It's fires an 8x57 mm cartridge. . . . the expended shell casings are as long as a full AK-47 round ready to fire. It will propel a 170-grain bullet with a muzzle velocity of almost 3000 fps. . . .

OK, after I offered my rifle to one of my younger shooting buddies he ran out and set a can about 15 meters away and then took aim at it. He's an absolute newbie to shooting, but indignant to CA's idiotic gun laws. While he's doing this, I'm remembering that the Mauser 98k first saw action in the Boer War and that, at Spion Kop, Afrikaners were using them to pick off British soldiers from 1000 meters away without a scope ... and he's aiming at can at pointblank range.

I was expecting the can to be empty, but no. It was full of mandarin nectarines. And when he hit it on the first try, it disappeared into an orange cloud. Afterwards, the most we found of the can was what was once its bottom and a small speck of a nectarine -- perhaps 1/8 of an inch long -- that the wind had blown back onto one of our sweatshirts.

Even more bottom line, 60 rounds through the thing gave me a fat lip. And I have this nasty snaggletooth on the right side of my jaw that means I should invest in a football player's mouthguard when shooting this thing lest I want it to tear up my inner lip again.

What can I say? German Kannonenthumpenboomen in das Haus! Ya.

Awesome. But why the name?
When I picked up the Mauser, I got a butt pad with it. The salesman was fumbling around looking for a black one after he found a brown one. I told him that it's OK since the rifle is brown. He countered that MY rifle is blonde.

I had been struggling for a woman's name to give it. Right then and there I decided on "Annika". And after the beating it gave me last weekend, I've amended that to "Mistress Annika". I hope you don't mind ...

Not at all Hannes! I'm totally flattered.

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Eagle Claw Anniversary

I find it strange that there is no media recognition of today's 26th anniversary of Operation Eagle Claw. Especially with Iran in the news so much lately. I did a couple of different google news searches and found nothing.

Eagle Claw was the failed attempt to rescue the embassy hostages, in which eight rescuers were killed. The disaster threw a spotlight on Carter's "hollow military," but it also led to the creation of the Special Operations Command, and more importantly, the election of Ronald Reagan.

Why might the media want to ignore Eagle Claw's anniversary? As LGF and others have pointed out, cynicism when it comes to the media's Iran coverage is often justified.

But one would think that they'd play up the Eagle Claw failure angle, in order to argue that a military solution to the Iranian nuclear problem would be futile.

However, such an argument might involve upleasant evidence of Carter's ineptitude, in contradiction of the media's ongoing campaign to beatify the loser.

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