Saturday, April 13, 2002

Open Question- Why should Sharon listen to the US on this current West Bank operation? The US isn't likely to cut back any aid or impose an embargo and is fo-shore not going to invade on behalf of the Palestinians. Europe's talking about an embargo, but they need all 15 states on board. The west has no carrat and a negligable stick. What does Sharon get for calling off the dogs? A promice from Yasser that Fatah will be good little boys and girls and stop that disgusting habit of blowing themselves in Jewish crowds? He can't promise anything for Hamas and wouldn't likely have operational control of Fatah if he tried to make such an edict stick. The Israeli's know this, thus they're not terribly interested in a deal with a guy who can't deliver a pizza let alone a respite from autoboomers. The upside for continuing is the ability to gut, but not neccisarily kill, the terror networks on the West Bank. There's little downside to continuing, as the Hamas boomers will keep at it and Fatah will too in all likelihood. They can look to the U.S. and say "Yeah! What'ya gonna do about it? Pass another UN resolution?" It all goes back to the seeming hypocracy of diplomacy, striving for a peace that's not going to come with this generation of leaders.

Presidental Wannabes Head to Florida-I'm under slight computer withdrawl this weekend, but I've made a swing by the WSC computer lab between bouts of touristing. Lacking a computer in my guest housing does have its advantages. Last night, I found myself watching a local political show (Tampa Bay Week if memory serves) on the Tampa PBS outlet. They were going over the state Democratic convention this weekend. While the national media is plugging all the presidental candidates heading down here (yeah, I just said "down here") to woo well-placed Floridians, the Tampa bunch was talking about Bill McBride's big mo and whether he has enough oomph to pass Reno by the September primary. The conventional wisdom from the panel was that McBride's got the wholesale (union backing and newspaper endorsements) stuff down, but needs to work on the retail level, especially down in the Miami area where Reno was a prosecutor before she got named AG. The local pundits seemed to be still putting their money on Reno to get the nomination, but didn't seem eager to bet the farm on the proposition.

Quip du jour-"Fidel Castro will go to work as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley before Yasser Arafat signs a peace treaty."-David Brooks. Edifier du jour="If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you."-Proverbs 25:22 (easier said than done)

Friday, April 12, 2002

Cleveland on a roll-As I predicted last Friday, Cleveland is doing better than the pundits expected, going 9-1 while the hyped Twinkies are .500 after last night's loss. Matt Lawton's stepped into Gonzales' shoes very well, with a .400 OBA and 3 HR and 10 RBI batting leadoff. Thome's slumping a bit but the Walking Machine keeps up the good OBA despite being at the Mendoza line. Ellis Burks has been putting up gaudy stats the first 10 games and the rest of the troops are chiming in well. The rotation of young guns Colon, Sabathia and Baez are rolling and if Chuck Finley can get over being beat up by his wife (he pitched six innings of shutout ball in his first start), they'll have the best four-man rotation the American League has seen since the Orioles of the early 70s. Fun times on the North Coast.

Nets Lock Up East- They beat Orlando last night, 101-99. They'd have to lose the rest of the way and have Detroit run the table to not win the Eastern Conference. Let's hope the Pistons polish off the Nets in six and not have a Game Seven at the Meadowlands in the conference final.

Cultures of Death Update-A reader shouted out via email to add that "what the two cultures of death have in common is what they lack--a passionate commitment to the dignity of every single human life." Well said, sir. Eve Tushnet chimes in-"Maybe the better distinction is death-as-argument vs. death-as-compassion? I'm not sure. But there's more going on in this country than simple individualism." That's a good take, as all the death issues are designed to relieve pain. There is more than just individualism going down. I'm reminded of the last line in Judges-"In those days Israel had no king; eveyone did as he saw fit." That's modern America in a nutshell. That individualism is coupled with the lack of respect for individual life that my e-mailer points out. What I gave yesterday was only an initial diagnosis; Eve's helped flesh out the problem with the patient.

"Scotty, they're jamming the transporter beam"-James Trafficant was convicted of taking bribes and will spend plenty of time with his new friends in prison. He's one of those larger-than-life guys who you couldn't get away with drawing as a character in a piece of fiction for fear of being too over-the-top. My question to my blogmates is: who assumes the title of Sultan of Special Orders? Thanks to Ben for the link.

Florida Update-I'm blogging from a Warner Southern computer lab. I got a campus tour from Dr. Wiseman this morning, seeing most of my new office mates and got to go to lunch at a down-to-earth but not sleazy Mexican restaurant. I didn't wear a tie this morning, going in with a nice pair of slacks and a white dress shirt. When I saw Dr. Wiseman in a tie, I got worried that I was underdressed. Not to worry, they're very casual here, he was in a tie because he needs to dress up a bit as the dean. It wouldn't be true to say the people are uniformly nice-some people are nice, others are really nice. I have in my bag a contract to hire me as an Assistant Professor of Business. I'll talk to Eileen about it this evening and sign it shortly. I'll be teaching a accelerated summer session in Advanced Finance starting July 30, then have a slate of two MBA classes (Modern Corporate Finance and Managerial Economics) and two undergrad classes (Macroeconomics and Personal Finance) this fall. It is a trip to be referred to as "Dr. Byron," as I've not been in a position since getting my Ph.D. to have that honorific used. The flight down was late but uneventful, as the air traffic control had our Atlanta-bound plane sitting in Flint an hour after it was scheduled to leave. Got to rent a car for the first time, and then drive, dog-tired (got in at 11:00), an hour down to Lake Wales. US 27 is a four lane divided highway (but not a limited-access expressway) , which has a 65 MPH speed limit-I'm used to 55 for such roads in Michigan. At night, you couldn't see much, but got to drive past the Florida's Natural orange juice plant on the east side of US 27 in Lake Wales. The orange smell coming out of the plant beat the heck out of the fumes from Dow Chemical in my hometown of Midland. WSC put me up in a nice mobile home a quarter-mile north of campus-the campus security guy escorted me up there when I got their a bit before 1AM this morning. This morning, I had a 9AM meeting scheduled with Dr. Wiseman. I got up about 7:15 and drove into town to grab some groceries for the weekend, and found myself in a Kash and Karry (I'm not sure-that sounds too cute) putting a Michigan address on one of those Preferred Shopper cards that are the rage in grocery-storedom these days. Seeing palm trees and orange groves gives you the "Todo, I don't think we're in Michigan anymore" feeling. Came back, had some Cinnamon Crispix that was on special (good stuff-a redo) and then went to campus. I think I'm going to like this place.

Monday Night Revolution-Special Thursday Edition-I saw some serious rioting footage from Venezuela on Spanish-language TV this morning, but my Spanish was too rusty to make anything out. The military has staged a coup and have newly-former President Hugo Chavez under detention. Chavez wanted to go into exile in Cuba but the military vetoed that option, wanting him to answer for his dictatorial rule. Business leader Pedro Carmona will lead a interim government. This is good news if the new military-civilian junta will return to a functioning democracy in short order, otherwise we could be in for a mess.

Quip du jour-"What do you call a pretty girl in Kentucky? A tourist."-anon (repeated by Dr. Wiseman this morning) Edifier du jour-"Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom."-Song of Solomon 2:15 Eileen and I have started into SoS as our daily devotional-we have reading it as a homework assignment for our next pre-maritial counciling session. That verse struck me yesterday- there are a truckload of little frustrations that take away our joy, like computers that don't want to cooperate, bad drivers and planes that take off an hour late. Don't let those 'little foxes' take away the joy that God has for us.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

The Clone Arraigner?-Well, I decided to get one more post in before heading south. We’re having a perfect mid-April day; sunny and in the 60s. Why now? Why couldn’t I go when there was a foot of snow on the ground and I could brag to the people trudging behind their snow-blowers? However, duty calls in the form of the cloning ban that President Bush is plugging for. I think it might pass, especially if the attendees are indicative of what coalitions might form in Congress. Veritas has supurb (I was going to say “killer”, but that wouldn’t work with this topic) coverage of this topic that led me to sneak in this last post. Mary Landreau, a Louisiana Democrat, is a co-sponsor. That might get her a few percent in a tight reelection fight. She won by the skin of her teeth (and some likely electoral chicanery) six years ago and will need all the help she can get. I saw Bart Stupak’s name mentioned by Dubya in his introductory remarks. He’s a Yooper (Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) Democrat in a rural district that should trend Republican someday. Those rural and southern Democrats will be candidates to pry loose and build a coalition that can get past a Democratic-led filibuster. However, some of the Republicans (and possible Democratic allies) could be pulled loose by the backers of therapeutic cloning by pointing out the medical benefits that can be had from this research. For instance, centrist pundit Mort Kondracke, who’d likely be a swing vote on this issue, is a backer of stem-cell research due to his wife having Parkinson’s. Members of Congress could be easily swayed by this promise of new therapies coming out of the research. There are two key points I’ll bring up in trying to shoot down cloning research. The first is that an embryo is a thing of value, an embryonic human being. As the President put it, "Life is a creation, not a commodity." While the median voter isn’t quite ready to declare it a human, they also aren’t ready to call it just a blob of protoplasm. A small number of embryos would be sacrificed to do research to see if embryonic stem cell would be helpful in creating therapies for Parkinson’s or diabetes or spinal injuries (thus the presence of Joni Erickson Tada, a noted paraplegic evangelist, at Dubya’s press conference), but the embryos would have to be “harvested” wholesale if the therapies were proved successful. Is the swing voter prepared for that level of life-taking? The second is that the success of adult stem cells has been underreported in the media at large. Many of the early studies of embryonic stem cells point out that these cells are (as I understand it) too active. Stem cells have the ability to become any cell that’s needed, but the embryonic cells tend to grow too much or in unintended ways. Many of the successes that may be a decade away with embryonic stem cells are years away with adult cells, and you don’t have to kill (we kill bacteria, so I can use the word unpejoratively) an embryo in the process. Educating the swing voter that’s not in the pro-life camp of this is the key to getting a bill passed. Seeing moderate Democrats on board points out that it is winnable.

Leaving on a Jet Plane-This'll likely be the last post of the day-I'm leaving straight from work to catch a flight to Orlando and thence to Lake Wales to check out Warner Southern College, my likely employer for the fall. I might get some blogging in on the school's computers this weekend, but don't count on it. Posting will be spotty to non-existant until my Sunday night return.

Midday Musings The Pistons just lost a good shot at winning the Eastern Conference by losing to Chicago last night. They would have been two back had they won. Then, a Nets loss either at Orlando or at an en fuego Toronto would set up a showdown next Tueday with Detroit. Now, the Nets will have to lose both to make that game count. Well, second seed, a lot better than I was counting on at the begining of the season. At least His Hairness, Ben Wallace, will be back for the San Antonio game Friday. New NCCA rules will allow high schoolers to apply for the NBA draft and still be able to go to college if they don't sign and don't get an agent. This will be a mixed bag-it gives players the option of testing the waters and having college as a fall-back if they're not drafted or drafter low, but it would allow a team that likes a kid but thinks a year of college would help to draft him and hold the rights for a year. I'll have to think the permutations on that one through and say more later. Dr. Weevil's got a chuckly piece on the misspelling of millennia. People tend to spell it with one n. He points out that Annus (two n) in Latin is year, while Anus (one n) .... Chris Johnson has a good overview of the Weeble President (to borrow from Bryan Preston) hanging in there-he wobbles but he doesn't fall down. There's been some noise by Labor backbenchers disliking Tony Blair's hard stance on Iraq. Is there a chance that Blair will be dumped? No, according to Airstrip One. I don't always agree with Goldstein's take (he picks his spots to intervene tighter than I do) but he's looks to be on the money breaking down Blair's in-party opposition. Two good essays on "Warblogging" by Susanna Cornett and Rich Hailey. Susanna just added a paragraph on Colin Powell and how his blackness isn't (not should it be) an issue. Hailey also added a good piece on cloning, pointing out that trying to say "Theraputic, Si! Reproductive, No!" is logical quicksand. Hailey's not a Bible-thumper, yet does battle with the Dark Side with a solid intelect.

Cultures of Death-Louder Fenn points to this piece on Nigerian cardinal Francis Arinze, where he links the western culture of death of "abortion, euthanasia and genetic experiments" with 9/11. I think there are two cultures of death involved here. They both are rooted on by Ol' Sloughfoot, but come from different branches. The Islamic branch seems to stem from a overwillingness to sacrifice individuals for the good of the group, undervaluing the life of the individual. Suicide bombers and quick death penalties for sexual violations of sharia are the result of this willingness to kill to fight foes or to enforce societal norms. It's communitarianism run amok. The western culture of death is not communitarian but individualistic, where abortion and euthanasia are avenues to kill people in the name of relieving the burdens of others. A mom doesn't want to deal with the pain of pregnancy, so she kills. A family doesn't want to care for a very ill family member, so they pull the plug. Embryos are created to be destroyed for medical tests to benefit the researchers more than society at large. It's libertarianism run amok. In the more twisted forms of Islam, the collective need is the tyrant. In the west, the individual need is the tyrant. Both are sinful twists of what God has for us. A Christian world-view will have the collective looking out after the individual, while the individual looks out after the collective needs. Mutual servanthood is a big underlying theme of Paul's letters. That's lacking in both the Islamic and western culture.

Saudis Pin the Claudometer- This Fox piece on anti-Americanism in Saudiland has this five-Clauder
The participation of so many Saudis came as a shock to the government, as did the possible role of "underground" clergymen in spreading the kind of fundamentalist ideas espoused by bin Laden.
Oh my, Ahmed! How they hate those infidels!

More Justice Estrada-I was just few days ahead of the curve-Fox has a piece on DC court of appeals nominee Miguel Estrada.

Quip du jour-“There are only two things necessary in life--WD-40 and duct tape…WD-40 for things that don’t move that should, and duct tape for things that do move but shouldn’t.” -John Ashcroft Edifier du jour-"Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart."-Psalm 37:4 Groaner du jour- Three young bulls were pondering their future. Bull 1-"I want to go to Wall Street and be part of a Bull Market." Bull 2 was a good Catholic-"I want to go to the Vatican and be a Papal Bull." Bull 3-"Nah. I just want to stay in this field for heifer and heifer and heifer." Derb, the heifer jokes have commenced.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

One more reason to dislike the EUnuchs-they're actually looking to place economic sanctions on Israel. The proposal passed 269-208, but would need unanamous consent of the foreign ministers of each of the 15 EU countries, which is unlikely.

Blogonomics?-James D. Miller has an interesting piece of the economics of blogging in Tech Central earlier today, as did Papa Blog. However, I'm not quite on board with some of Miller's analysis. I don't think greater multi-media on commercial sites will doom the blog. The personal analysis of a blog doesn't improve too much with multi-media; the people who want to read a good think piece will seek it out even if there is better eye-candy elsewhere. There will eventually be more gatekeepers pointing people to good writers; some of the writers might graduate to commercial sites. For instance, I can picture Fox expanding its blog series into a blog page, and other commercial news outlets could have their own blog sections. The blogs could wind up serving as a AA farm club for the major media. One thing that struck me is that Instapundit doesn't stray too far out of his libertarian quadrant to provide links. A conservative gatekeeper might be helpful.

Amy Wellborn has a good take-down on Cardinal Law-I don't like to see such high profile church leaders get dumped on, but he does have it coming and Amy breaks it down well.

Hitting the Fan in Venezuela- The general strike called by both major business and labor groups has been extended indefinately. This could be the beginings of a coup to force the increasingly dictatorial Hugo Chavez out of power. A coup looked to be brewing in mid-Feburary, but Chavez made some soothing noises to calm things down after a pair of military officers called for his removal. Chavez might not be as lucky this time.

Greenhouse Effect (in my car)- First sure sign of spring-the air conditioner comes on when you start the car. It was a sunny 61, the first day much past 50 this spring, and my car was warm when I got out of work this afternoon.

Sharpton for President-of What?-Both Next Right and James D. Miller have takes on this NRO article on Al Sharpton. I don't see Sharpton being anything more than a single-digit hanger-on in the race. He's got two years to expand his scope beyond race-baiting and draw non-blacks into his camp if he wants to be a playa. He's picking up the Jesse Jackson mantle without Jesse's charm and with the Tawana Brawley mess that will resurface. Rational blacks will stay away from him. I remember Coleman Young's crack in 1988 when Jesse was running fairly well-"He's never run anything except his mouth." Despite the black vote being 15-20% of the Democratic primary vote nationwide, Sharpton will be lucky to crack double digits unless he develops a clientele that gets outside of the black community. Michigan has crossover voting, but it's only one way. Last I checked, Democrats prohibit delegates from being selected in open primaries, so Michigan Dems use a caucus (more of a party-run primary than the Iowa system) and the voting on primary day is a beauty contest. That would shoot down Miller's idea of Republicans raiding the Democratic Primary to vote for Sharpton.

Morning Musings- This one goes back to Monday-but Mark Steyn has another keeper, laying out the reasons for going after Iraq. The boomers are back- A bus bombing near Haifa kills 8 at last count. This is the first bombing since the current Israeli offensive started. There are Israeli Arabs behind whatever Shofar Curtain they decide to build, who are feeling increasingly Palestinian, so they'll have to work on domestic counter-terror as well as cleaning out the West Bank and Gaza of terror dens. The ambush that killed 15 IDFers in Jenin was tragic, but I'm surprised the gunnies didn't have more such tricks up their sleeve. The Fatah and Hamas bunch might be good terrorists but seem not to be good tactical fighters.

Quip du jour-"'They don't cut the greens here at Augusta, they use bikini wax"-Gary McCord Edifier du jour-"It is better to heed a wise man's rebuke than to listen to the song of fools".-Ecclesiastes 7:5 :

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Vajpayee's Ostpolitik-Interesting piece on India looking to cozy up to Southeast Asian countries. This makes since. In the Cold War era, ASEAN was a US-centric anti-communist bloc, while the old Congress party governments were socialist leaned away from the US. With the Cold War over and the more free-market BJP in power in India, better relations with ASEAN makes good sence. Trading with the Islamic states to the west doesn't make too much sence, as they would have more in common with the Buddhist states to the east.

Fox Caged- The Mexican Senate vetoed a trip to the US and Canada by President Fox. The Mexican constitution gives the Senate the power to block presidential trips overseas, and the center-left PRI and the leftist PRD (Fox's erstwhile partners in the legislature) voted on party lines to keep him home to focus on domestic issues. It will be interesting if this leads to a problem with cohabitation.

Venezuela on Strike- Both the largest trade union and the largers business organization are holding a gereral strike in protest of another bout of Hugo (the Ego) Chavez's heavy-handedness. His replacement of managers at the state-owned oil company triggered the current mess. This strike has slowed oil exports to a trickle, not good when Iraq just pulled out of the oil export biz.

Kirk's winning in Texas- With over half the votes in, Ron Kirk's got a 12% lead over Victor Morales in the Texas Democratic senate runoff. Unless there's a lot of Hispanic districts yet to report, Kirk's got the nomination. Pity, Morales' shoe-string campaign was good political theater.

Out With The Pervy Priests and Their Enablers-I haven't weighed in on the Catholic sexually predatory priests until now, but what I heard about this Paul Shanley made me do a slow burn. This guy was a (oh, what's the word that's printable) disgustingly Satan-inspired speaker at a N@MBLA meeting and had a track record of pedestry, and yet the Church did nothing to get him out of the way of kids. I'm not up on the details of child endangerment law, but Cardinal Law would seem to be guilty of it in deed if not in law and could serve prison time if the details hold up. The fact that quite a few gay priests are in the system isn't that suprising. My uninformed hunch is that the priesthood would draw a higher-than-average percentage of homosexually-inclined guys. Since they have no honorable way to act on those feelings, the priesthood might look more attractive to them than a heterosexually-inclined candidate who has marriage as an outlet. I don't know whether the cover-ups are a "Lavender Mafia" of gay priests covering for one another or just a community rallying around their own, much like otherwise good cops will err on the side of buying the alibis of a bad cop. A number of forced retirements or defrocking seem to be an order. A good question would be whether John Paul II's up to the challange of overhauling the American church to end these coverups, given his increasingly frail health. These might make some good Catholics question their faith and abandon all churches all together. That's why this needs to be dealt with ASAP, getting past the inertia of covering for your buddies and the (as I understand the Catholic priesthood) lifetime ordination from God that isn't designed to be easy to take away. Otherwise, you'll keep getting a drip-drip-drip of raunchy scandal from a media that has no love for the Catholic Church or Christianity in general.

Engines for Economic Growth for the ‘Oughts -Despite the possible oil price hikes, I’m looking for the rest of the decade to have fairly good growth. Economic growth will either require more people working or the existing workers to be more productive. Look for productivity to be the driving factor, but we should continue to see a trend of older Americans working longer and retiring later. This will make promotion slower for younger workers, as their elder’s won’t be getting out of the way. As seniors stay healthier longer, they’ll want to work some to stay active and the economy may need them to retire a bit later to ease the burden on the rest of society. We may need to look at immigration as a way to help support the Baby Boomers as they hit retirement age. Bringing in a crop of younger immigrant workers will help reduce the worker-to-retiree ratio and also help bring in a crop of service and health-care workers willing to work modest jobs looking after Granny. While I don’t have a crystal ball or a word of knowledge to tell what the next decade will bring, there are a number of on-the-horizon technologies that could drive the economy for the rest of the Oughts (what I’ll call this decade-the last decade was the Nineties, what’s this one?) as the PC helped drive the 90s. I’ll take a stab at looking at a few. Desktop computer technology has been fairly well exploited, so I don’t expect the PC industry to be the driving force it was in the 1990’s. I’d look instead to see innovative applications of automation to help improve productivity. One intresting application that’s come up the last few years is automatic billing of tolls, where cars will get scanned as they pass through the toll plaza and the toll put on the driver’s tab, not having to stop to pay the toll. Another innovation that’s made it to our local Meijer’s is self-service checkouts, where the shopper scans the items themselves and pays for it through either vending-style cash receivers or pay-at-the-pump-style charge card sliders. This system will allow one cashier to oversee four checkout lines, saving big money over time. Wireless communication between cash registers, vending machines and smart phones or PDAs will be another way to make transactions easier. People would move through lines faster if the could type in an acceptance over their cell-phone rather than pull out cash. Such Pocket Pals could also double as keyless entry devices for homes and offices as homes become more automated. They might also double as Walkmen, as MP3-style music and satellite radio and TV become more common. It will be interesting how this area comes out, but there are a lot of applications that are very feasible. Also, broadband delivering Internet TV video will come of age someday-it’s been a year away for five years and that year will eventually come. Health Care will be another growth industry. With new cures coming on line, we’ll spend a higher percentage of our GDP on health care. This will cause a lot of politics to be heated. Medicare taxes and monthly premiums will wind up going up. Companies will be forced to raise copays or lower salaries to meet the higher costs. However, if these new treatments make life longer and better, spending extra on them may well be worth it. Nursing care and other gerontology outlets will be a touchy subject, as the Baby Boomers will be having more age-related problems-the companies that provide unique solutions to those problems will do very well. I’m expecting an overhaul of the auto industry in the next decade. New energy sources, such as fuel cells and electric motors are coming on line, and I’d expect some early commercial uses of autopilots (at minimum a crash-protection breaking system) by the end of the decade. GPS systems and satellite radio will become more standard. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of the US Big Three to assume room temperature by the end of the decade, as these developments might leave an unprepared company in the dust. Biotech will be another growth industry. This will go hand-in-hand with the health-care sector, as new drugs and new drug delivery systems will be brought on line. Nanotech might be a factor as well, as new surgical techniques using nanobot surgeons could be developed to repair arteries or attack cancer cells without cutting the patient open. There will be an ongoing fight with people fearful of some of the genetic tinkering involved, but the development of better crops and better drugs will be an irresistible lure. Power Generation will be a sleeper industry. Look for power cells, wind and solar power to become a larger factor in electricity production as the decade progresses. This should result in a major alteration in the electric utility business. There might be more ugliness as this market deregulates as people will fight over how to get rid of the big energy mastodons and who’ll get to eat the sunk costs. Terrorism, Luddites and lobbyists from losing industries might get in the way of this change, but there are a number of avenues for growth that should keep the US perking along.

A Little Miracle-Quick thought before going to bed (Eileen's in town and at home safe and sound). Amy Welborn pointed out that yesterday (Monday 4/8) was the Holy Week-delayed Feast of the Annunciation, celebrating the conception of Jesus. Many people have trouble with the idea that Jesus was concieved by the Holy Spirit and not by a jumping-the-marital-gun Joseph or some other immoral male. Quick concept check-if you're going to buy the concept of a creator God, then this was the Guy who invented biology, creating the universe. If He can create the universe, He can do a little creative biology. If God can't make a baby inside of a woman without sex, he's not much of a God. See y'all later today.

Bitty Blogs-This John Scalzi's article has taken the wind out of some people's sails today, pointing out how puny a blog's influence is compaired to mainstrean media websites. Well, I had 128 unique visitors yesterday (Monday), and I'm averaging 1000 hits a week since installing my counter three weeks ago. Those are 128 more people that get to hear my wonderful wit and insight (Oh, barf bag, pleeeese) than did back in December when I wasn't blogging. The numbers are going up, but there are a number of reasons I do this. It gives an outlet for my eclectic interests, and gets me to talk about things that I wouldn't be able to do otherwise. I get to trade political insights with students and activists, have trans-denominational theological discussions and talk smack about foreign policy with other international affairs geeks. I'm not being read in the White House, but you do get to meet a lot of interesting people. A Eastern Orthodox Yalie gave me both barrels on my theology in an e-mail today; I wasn't getting the chance to get under the skin of any Eastern Orthodox Yalies before blogging, and that's cool. Enjoy the blogging for what it is. If I develop a following and I get a writing career out of it, cool. If not, then I'll just enjoy the conversation and learn a lot in the process.

Quip du jour-"I think more people went to the polls to vote for Al Gore than for George Bush. But to argue it on and on is like arguing a call in a basketball game after the game is over." -Bill McBride Edifier du jour- "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold."-Proverbs 22:1

Monday, April 08, 2002

The Tigers might have tanked, but the Indians are 5-1 (yes, 3 wins over the Tigers) and my adopted favorates have a good stud of a pitcher in C.C. Sabathia. Check out this Terry Pluto profile of C.C. Add Colon and Baez and the Tribe has three good starters that can carry the load in the regular season and do well in October. Ricky Gutierrez may not be Robbie Alomar, but he's putting up those kind of numbers in the early going. So far, so good.

Oil Problems in Venezuela-More heavy-handedness from Hugo ("Call me Caesar") Chavez may further exacerbate the oil market as Iraq goes off line. Chavez has canned several oil officials and the remaining managers are staging a strike, severely slowing oil production. Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Lonely Vigil-Eileen was down in Houston this weekend being a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding. It's been the longest time we've been apart since we've met. It sure did give me time to blog, though. At church yesterday, there were two parrots. One hopped from person to person saying "Where's Eileen?" The other parrot was perched on my shoulder saying "In Houston at a friend's wedding." I remember an outing to a play with my friend Rose, who all-but-lives at the Center for the Arts. Every other person knew her, so that hypothetical parrot was perched on my shoulder, saying "Who was that? Who was that?" The next day, our chapter of Overbidders Anonymous (a bunch of singles who got together to play a rowdy game of bridge-yes, it's possible) was in session, and Rose had a string on one-no-trump bids. Invoking the image of the previous evening, I said she must have that parrot saying "One No! One No!" For the next decade in OA, a one-no bid was thus "The Bird." Chirping or squawking sounds would suffice as well to signify the bid. Back to Eileen-she was supposed to be getting back to Midland (MBS/Tri City Airport) at 10, but a late flight from Houston put her on the 11:30. Now that flight's stuck in Detroit; her ETA is now 12:50AM. So much for a good night's sleep. I've got three IE windows up; one to surf with, one to blog with and one on NWA.com keeping tabs on her flight. I just e-mailed my boss- I'm not getting into work at 7AM after this when I'm not going to be getting to sleep until about 2AM at best.

Central Division Champs!-The Pistons did want the pundits couldn't have expected-win the Central Division. It wasn't a thing of beauty, but they got past the Hawks, 105-99. Rebraca channeled Ben Wallace (in civvies with a bum ankle) with 18 points, 13 boards and 7 rejects. The Hawks were ball-hawking the offensive glass, but the Pistons shot 52% to hold off a scappy bunch that didn't look like they were out of the playoff hunt. Only two back of the Nets. Can ya hear us coming, Slotman?

Iraqi Musings- The conventional wisdom that we need other Arab and European support to go into Iraq, thus the Powell trip. We can do with just the British and the Turks, with access to a southern base in Kuwait. I don't think we need the Saudis to do an attack on Iraq. Doing something with the Saudi's help wouldn't hurt, but we don't need to kiss their brass ring. Den Beste pointed out today that the Iraqi move to cut off oil shipments hurts them more than it does us. The rest of the oil-producing countries can kick production up a notch in a few weeks if prices start to jump too high. The Turks liked the fee revenue from an Iraqi pipeline and weren't happing about losing that revenue in that war. With the oil stopped unilaterally, that will make Turkey easier to bring on board.

Christopher Johnson has an excellent essay on his church in Missouri and the Church of the Nativity. Go. Read. I had much the same feelings Wednesday, but he says it much better than I.

Scrap Iron on the Scrap Heap-The Tigers dumped Phil Gardner after an 0-6 start. The front office seemed to like him until this lousy start. He got off on the wrong foot in my opinion when he brought in all his own guys, dumping Alan Trammell from a coaching position. He won't be terribly missed.

Handy Andy?-Instapundit pointed out this Newsday article that had Andrew Cuomo asking for the Nobel Peace Prize committee to take back Arafat's prize. Given his liberalness, it seemed a bit surprising. However, other parts of my political database just got pinged. This Edward Blum NRO piece on Al Sharpton has this interesting paragraph-
[Sharpton] must be giving the consultants working to get Andrew Cuomo elected the next governor of New York nightmares as well. Cuomo, the son of former governor Mario Cuomo, will face state comptroller Carl McCall in the Democrat primary this September. McCall, who is black, is backed by the state's black political glitterati, including Sharpton. Cuomo now knows he must win the nomination without any significant black support — a huge challenge in a state in which 25-30 percent of Democrat primary voters are black.
Either Andy's got some common sense, or he's pandering for the Jewish vote or a little of both. Methinks the third option.

Hail to the Victor-Be ready for a surprise tomorrow, as Texas has their Democratic Senate runoff. Well funded former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk's trailing near-zero-funded '96 nominee Victor Morales, who had a plurality of the vote in the original primary. Morales will have an advantage in that there are a number of judicial run-offs in Hispanic areas that will boost turnout for his base. The Morales story of a grass-roots populist schoolteacher getting this far twice sounds like a good Hollywood screenplay. However, whoever wins still be an underdog against Republican state AG John Cornyn in the fall.

Giving up Common Sense as Penance for Boston?-How much of a PR hit will the Catholic Church take on their Church of the Nativity take. This BBC report has the head Franciscan monk in the region calling the IDF move an "indescribable act of barbarity." The media seems to be doing a good job of describing it, Mr. Monk. Were you as vocal when the Palestinians were bombing Jews by the dozen? The church is also trying to arrange for the occupants to be transported to Gaza. The Israeli's are going to say "no dice. Too many high-level gunnies to let them go." The over-emphasis on diplomacy is one of the Vatican's weak spots in public policy. I'm not sure if they'll be seen as trying to shelter some very bad guys and get tarnished in the process. The left wants nothing to do with the Vatican unless it suits their political agenda. The same beauzeaus that will bash the church on sexual issues will be saying "Listen to the Pope, guys" on this one. Thus, any brownie points their diplomacy gets from the EUnuchs will be wasted, while the gutlessness they are showing will be remembered by Americans and others on the right, who will see the Holy See as wimpy on terrorism.

Mexican Standoff in Bethlehem- Yasser's told the gunnies in the Church of the Nativity to start playing Corey Hart's Never Surrender. Derb's invoking Montecassino is a good one. If I remember the story correctly (watched way too much History Channel before meeting Eileen), Montecassino was a landmark Italian mountaintop monastery that the retreating Germans had taken over, giving a commanding view of the surrounding countryside. The cultural significance of the monastery didn't save it from Allied bombardment, since the Germans were using it to good military advantage. I'm not the only one that finds it ironic that the mainly Islamic gunnies would use a Christian shrine to hide from the IDF. They're not just taking priests and nuns hostage, they're taking a "holy site" hostage. Mr. Sulik, I'm just about with you in invoking Stonewall Jackson on this one. I've had it with these jokers.

Sick Baseball Humor-Here's the favorite baseball card in South Park- that of Tiger journeyman Mike Kilkenny. I don't watch the show, but word has it that they've killed Kenny for the last time. Don't count on it. Remember Bobby Ewing?

Monday Linkorama -Dr Weevil has new digs

The Mother of all Gerrymanders-Fox has an interesting piece on the effects of gerrymandering in Michigan. The piece features two Democratic members of Congress thrown into the same district. John Dingell, representing blue-collar downriver Detroit suburbs was put in the same district with Ann Arbor’s Lynn Rivers, who has a more intellectual leftist take on things. While the Dingell-Rivers race gets national publicity, the Republican gerrymanders did the same thing north of Detroit. They put two Democrats, Flint’s Dale Kildee and Saginaw/Bay City’s Jim Barcia, into the same district as well. The more conservative rural “Thumb” parts of Barcia’s district got put into David Bonior’s old district, making it hard for him to keep had he not tried running for governor; term-limited Republican Secretary of State Candice Miller is expected to win the seat. Meanwhile the more conservative exurban southern part of Kildee’s old district got put into Mike Rogers’ district, one that he one in a squeaker two years ago. They gerrymanderers also carved out a new, Republican district in the northwestern suburbs of Detroit that a Republican state senator is slated to pick up. The result is that the Michigan delegation, reduced by one due to the 2000 census, will pick up two new Republicans and lose three Democrats and shore up Roger's very swingy seat.

Living Waters--Gary Petersen was having trouble figuring out Proverbs 18:4-“The words of a man's mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” Here’s my stab. A small, fast-moving stream is more likely to be clean and clear than a larger, slower-moving river, which has less oxygen and can get contaminated by human and agricultural runoff. God’s wisdom is pure, while man’s wisdom is polluted

Thank Heaven for Little Girls-Patrick Carver has a great DNC faux-billboard. Pictures of Teddy, Condit and the Big He. Caption- "DNC 2002-Working hard for the sons and especially the daughters of America" In that vein, another tasteless ad campaign popped into my head-"The Boston Archdiocese- Working hard for the girls and especially the boys of New England."

Quip du jour-"If you catch Hell, don't hold it. If you're going through Hell, don't stop."- Ron Kenoly's pastor Edifier du jour-"But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."-I Corinthians 15:12-14

Sunday, April 07, 2002

Looking through my past blogs, I noticed a pledge to write on this George Will piece where California is looking into electing their presidential electors by congressional district, with an extra two (for the senators) voted on statewide. It may be a good idea for Republicans in the current climate to lock in their districts rather than lose them all. However, it would be a bad idea for a large state if they were looking to be a big influence. Only a few congressional districts would be in play, so presidential candidates would ignore the state by and large. It's cheaper to fight for West Virginia’s five votes than to fight for two at-large votes in California. Thus, resources would be shifted to the winner-take-all states still in play, ignoring California and other large states that went the district-by-district route. A swing congressional district in a compact media market (not LA where you have 20 districts you're buying ad time for in order to reach the one or two swingers) might be focused on, but big states would tend to be ignored.

Rant On, Fellows- Both Derb and Rob Dreher have good takes on the Church of the Nativity. Check 'em out.

Does Yasser Have a Messiah Complex?-Kesher Talk has this gem
The official Palestine News Agency says, "The Palestinians have informed the entire world especially the USA and its Administration, that President Arafat IS the Palestinian Address which through Him and only through Him the Palestinians might be approached, and no one has the permission to trespass this Palestinian consensus, because this is a Palestinian decision which all Palestinian individuals, groups, factions, inside Palestine and out have approved and ready to fight for." Does anyone else feel a tad disturbed that they refer to Arafat as "Him" ?
I checked the source Howard cites, they do have Him with an uppercase H. Either they (1) are clueless and don't know that uppercasing it implies deity status or (2) have their tongue so deep in their cheek they're gagging or (3) see him as their Savior. Irony doesn't seem to be a Palestinian strong suit and a this bunch has too much Islam in them to be thinking of him in divine terms, so I think the Clue Police will need to pay a visit once the IDF gets done with them.

When's Powell Speaking to the Bilderbergers?-Colin Powell will give conspiracy buffs plenty of fodder with a speech to the Trilateral Commission's annual meeting. No solid reports were given to what he said, as the meeting's off the record.

The Deer Hunters-Back a few weeks ago, Michael Moore's NRA membership got a few people, including Damian Penny, scratching their heads-how could this left-wing gadfly be a gun fan. Easy- guns and hunting are part of blue-collar culture in Michigan. One of the biggest travel days of the year is November 14, as guys (and a few gals as well) head up I-75 from the Detroit, Flint and other pasts of the urban south of the state to the sparsely populated northern part of the state for the start of firearm deer hunting season on the 15th. The hunting trip will often turn into a long stag party (and we're not talking about buck deer) of drinking too much and other politically-incorrect forms of male bonding. This might be another reason that liberals don't like hunting; its blue-collar masculinity doesn't sit well with the wine-and-cheese crowd. My grandpa Kraenzlein would go up on a hunting trip and not bother to bring a gun, he got to see the north woods and hang out with his buddies. An disturbing news item last week was that Chronic Wasting Disease, a deer version of Mad Cow Disease, has made its way to Wisconsin in limited form. It had been limited to the Rocky Mountain and Prairie west until now. If that spreads through the herd, a lot of tourist towns up north that get an extra revenue boost from hunting season will be badly hurt and a part of Michigan and Wisconsin culture will be endangered.

Music Collection Addition? This might be interesting- a Winans' greatest hits album's due out later in the month. The Freep piece mentions a lot of good tunes, like Tomorrow, Ain't no Need to Worry and Every Day the Same that have gotten Christian Contemporary and R&B airplay over the years.

Quip du jour-"They call hunters 'sportsmen.' Sportsmen are suppose to treat their foes fairly. If they were truly sporting, the deer would get to shoot back."-anon. (I support the right to arm bears!) Edifier du jour-"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love": I Corrintians 13:13 Groaner du jour-Heard Friday as we picked out a new study book for our Bible study-"What's your textual preference?"

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