August 2003 Archives

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August 31, 2003
Battle of France

After watching the gutsy and inspiring film Battle of Britain, I got to wondering if there might be any such film about France. They really need an inspiring film to redeem their (deservedly) tattered reputation.

Battle of France? No such creature. But there was, to my surprise, a movie named Battle of Paris, an inspiring tale of valiant French arms fighting a desperate battle against the Nazi onslaught.

Well, no, not quite...

Actually, it's a musical from 1929, alternately titled "The Gay Lady."

There's a double meaning in there, somewhere.

Posted by Russ at 11:58 PM
DV-Do and DV-Don't

The TV aspect of the cable system in my area - the entire county, apparently, and perhaps beyond - went out last night, and is still out. My cable modem is fine. Odd.

So I popped a newly-acquired copy of Battle of Britain (1969) into the DVD player. I'd owned a VHS copy of the movie since I bought my first VCR in Korea in 1988 - it was the first movie I bought - and it is by far the most frequently-viewed film in my collection. The wear on the tape was really showing, so I ordered a DVD replacement, which sat on the shelf for two months before I watched it.

I've replaced a fair amount of my VHS collection with DVD, with mixed results. Many older films make good use of the DVD format - crisp clean images, excellent sound, and occasional bonus features. Others... well, others seem to have been rushed to the marketplace, made from any old print of the film on hand, and have no qualitative advantage whatsoever over their VHS predecessors, and are sometimes actually worse.

I started the movie... it was absolutely beautiful. The video was as clean as I've ever seen, the sound much richer than the VHS. The flying and aerial combat scenes were magnificent - far better than I remember the tape being, even when it was new. (And there is very little that will make me drool quite so much as a Spitfire.) The subtitles for the German dialog have been re-done, and included much dialog that had been ignored in the original.

[I don't know what some of those reviewers at Amazon are thinking. I've seen both the VHS and DVD versions, and the DVD is far superior.]

The movie has the additional virtue of being a true story, recorded on film at a time when a great many of the participants in the historical event were still alive. Many veterans - British and Germans, both - assisted with its creation. There's no historical revisionism going on in this film. (Oliver Stone, take note.)

Watching it was like seeing an old "tee-shirt & jeans" friend neatly turned out in Sunday-best clothes.


Oh, and... whoever put the DVD version of Zulu on the market needs an assegai stuck squarely into his chest.

Posted by Russ at 12:46 PM
August 29, 2003

This is the face of tech evil?


This dirtbag, Jeffrey Lee Parson, arrested in connection with the recent virus-ish attack on computers worldwide, looks like the kind of guy who should have been out playing football. But no, he had to go and vandalize other peoples' property. I wonder what the maximum prison term for such a crime would be?

I don't know what the law actually says, but I recommend a speedy trial followed by an equally speedy execution... pour encourager les autres.

What? You think that's a bit too harsh?

Look, I work in tech support - I see the havoc human debris like this can cause, the damage they do, and the lengths to which businesses and other users must go to protect themselves.

These modern vandals often claim that they're just doing it to point out vulnerabilities in computers and networks, all to "make our systems more secure."

My, my - how philanthropic of them.

OK, fine - if that's the case, then they can go to work for Symantec or McAfee, or perhaps start their own consulting companies. They could deal with the producers of the systems they target, and make a pile of cash in the process, all nice and legal.

But that's not their purpose. They do it to gain status with their fellow vandals - no more, no less.

Hanging's too good for them.

Posted by Russ at 05:25 PM | Comments (1)
August 28, 2003
Dental Nuisance

I don't mind going to the dentist. I really don't.

I don't mind the awful-tasting topical anaesthetics.

I don't mind the needle jabs. I really don't mind the ensuing numbness.

The noise, smell and brain-jarring vibrations from dental tools -- no sweat. It's all tolerable.

But I swear, the tingling of a numbed lip coming awake -- that drives me completely nuts.

Posted by Russ at 02:08 PM | Comments (1)
August 27, 2003
Guest Editorial

Devin is a good friend of mine from the tech business and, like me, a former military linguist. He's a prolific writer of letters to editors, and has a good track record of being published - usually as the sole voice of the political Right.

Stuck as he is in California, he has a right to be a little upset with the state of the State. I can't blame him. Here's his latest.

Californians have wrung their hands raw discussing the State's financial and political situation that caused the recall revolution but there has been little analysis identifying what has caused this catastrophe. The key facts are that the California State budget has ballooned by 263% in 15 years, from $38 Billion in 1987-88 to $100 Billion this year. The credit markets have expressed their lack of confidence in California's ability to pay its debts by dropping the state's credit rating from AAA to today's BBB, just 2 steps above junk bond status.

In 1999 California's budget had a surplus of $12 billion and 5 years later, our legislature and Governor not only squandered that massive surplus but is spending $38 billion a year more than we have. To salt the wound further, the state instituted a hiring freeze in the year 2000 to combat the state's financial woes but ignored their own rule by hiring 14,000 more state employees.

California's state finances are a shambles but the people and businesses that pay the lion's share of taxes are fleeing as fast as they can. It has been reported recently that 2.2 million people have left the state in the last 4 years and only 1.6 million have legally moved in. Most of the recent immigrants are largely unskilled laborers, who require expensive state services, rather than those who will fill the state coffers with cash. Businesses are leaving the state in droves. Over 100,000 jobs have left the state since the recent turn of the century.

The financial pundits have reported that California's workers compensation laws and high taxation rates, both personal and corporate, are eliminating most profits and are driving both companies and skilled workers to more business friendly regions such as Nevada and Texas.

One may ask, "Who is responsible for such fiduciary disaster?" Well, the California State Senate membership is composed of 62.5% Democrat and the Assembly membership is 60% Democrat. Democrats hold every single statewide office in this State's government so their political death grip on the state is complete.

Sure, Democrats will tell you that there have been Republican Governors, but the legislature writes the budgets and Democrats have largely been the majority party in both houses of the legislature for generations. Despite the overwhelming historical facts, Democrats will still insipidly cry that Republicans are to blame for the crisis that they created. Unless Californians look beyond the deceitful rhetoric the future looks bleak for the state.

Democrats have maintained control over California's political system by terrifying the voters. They have shrilly cried that grandma and grandpa will be forced to live in dire poverty and that little Johnny and Jane will never learn to read if the Democrat Party is not maintained as sentinel of our future. Unfortunately, the Democrat Machine's policies have driven California into financial collapse and we won't have any money to ensure grandma's and grandpa's safety or little Johnny's and Jane's education.

California is a perfect example of what kind of "utopia" Democrats can create when they are given total control. The latest Democrat fad to solve California's financial insolvency is to tax the "wealthy". Unfortunately, data shows that the ranks of the "wealthy" have been thinning as fast as California's golden dream wanes. In the year 2000 there were 44,000 people in California making $1 million dollars or more and today there are only 29,000. Fortunately, Democrats' define "wealthy" as having an income in excess of $38,000 a year so the 34% decrease in the number of millionaires shouldn't inhibit the politician's ability to continue their work building a "worker's paradise". Too bad for those California workers who earn near poverty wages, they endure the highest cost of living in the country and are taxed as if they are "wealthy". No wonder they're leaving.

California's voter revolution during the recall must not stop at the steps of the Governor's mansion if the state is to have any hope for the future. The voters must look beyond a single man because the source of our economic woes is the systemic control that the Democrat Machine has held over the entire State's political structures for decades. If Californians don't retake their state from this "political elite" many of us won't be able to afford to be Californians much longer.

Like I said - he's a bit miffed. He has a right to be.

Posted by Russ at 06:31 PM | Comments (1)
Unintentional Allegory

I'm not sure what was happening in the news in August, 1992 - I was still in the Army, and in fact we were in the field almost the entire month, so any news that might have happened would have escaped my attention.

But I'll tell you - my thought on seeing this cartoon from 8/21/92 was that it could have been drawn this past week, about about the situation in Israel today.

It's hard to co-exist with things that want to kill you.
Or am I reading too much into it? I expect so - Watterson wasn't an editorial cartoonist, after all.
I wonder if we could set fire to the bed without burning the house down.
Anyway, I've said it before - make Calvin & Hobbes a regular read. It's still the best.

Posted by Russ at 10:21 AM | Comments (1)
August 26, 2003
Well Done, LT

LT Smash is home.

Posted by Russ at 02:33 PM
Early Blogger

The prototype for bloggers everywhere: Calvin.

What do you mean, you don't read Calvin and Hobbes regularly? I don't care if they aren't new - they're still the best.

Posted by Russ at 02:07 PM | Comments (1)
August 25, 2003
Too Far

The infamous Puppy Blender has now gone too far.

Now that I think about it, I haven't seen any hobos around here lately, either....

Posted by Russ at 09:49 PM
Quote(s) of the Day

Jonah Goldberg:

In the 1990s the merits and/or popularity of the Contract with America were largely unassailable, so Democrats told us that Gingrich & Co. were "mean-spirited" and therefore their agenda was illegitimate, as if it's better for nice people to do wrong than for "mean" people to do right.
The activist base of the Democratic Party today strikes me as demonstrably more paranoid and irrational about George Bush than even the most "obsessed" of my conservative brethren ever were [about Bill Clinton]. And to Bush's credit, he's not biting his lip and whining about it.

Posted by Russ at 09:33 PM
August 23, 2003
Quote of the Day
In Paris this spring, a government official explained to me how Europeans had created a more civilised society than America - socialised healthcare, shorter work weeks, more holidays.

We've just seen where that leads: gran'ma turned away from the hospital to die in an airless apartment because junior's sur la plage. M Chirac's somewhat tetchy suggestion that his people should rethink their attitude to the elderly was well taken.

But Big Government inevitably diminishes its citizens' capacity to take responsibility, to the point where even your dead mum is just one more inconvenience the state should do something about.

Mark Steyn, in the Telegraph (UK)

[emphasis mine]

Posted by Russ at 01:23 PM
August 21, 2003
The sporting life

Tuesday was a great day.

My visiting brother and I took my 12-year-old nephew fishing on Jordan Lake - off a dock, since I have no boat. The crappie were biting, and the boy managed to land one, as well as a catfish. My brother got a crappie. I got bupkus - about ten bites, but nothing took the bait... well, the lure, actually.

Having productively spent the morning lakeside (time spent fishing is not about catching fish) it was determined that it was time to teach the boy to shoot.

Now, those of you who make Kim du Toit a daily read might be saying to yourself "12? You waited until he was 12? Are you nuts?" And you'd have a point. Heck, I first learned when I was six or seven. But two facts mitigate: 1) he's my nephew, not my son, and 2) the boy lives in the land of loons California - 'nuff said.

So Tuesday we headed to the Wake County Firearms Education and Training Center. A more impressive facility I have never seen - not even (or perhaps, especially) while I was in the Army. Three of the indoor bays are available for public use (after completion of a 2-hour training class and passing a test) (I aced it, thankyouverymuch), with one bay reserved for police training. Two of the "civilian" bays are 50 meters; one is a full 100 meters.

100 meters. Indoors.

Jealous yet?

Anything up to .50 caliber rifle can be fired in there. The only shortcoming is that there is no target retrieval system. You have to walk downrange to change targets, but the Range Safety Officers (always on duty) are well trained, and have loudspeakers, colored lights, and a siren to make plain the "hot" or "cold" status of any of the bays.

So we showed up, signed in, bought a couple targets, and headed to the firing line. It was a slow night, the place was almost deserted - we had a 50-meter bay to ourselves. I then proceeded to instruct the lad in the essentials of safety.

Always keep the weapon pointed in a safe direction.
"A safe direction" being downrange towards the backstop (and not at the ceiling or floor).
Always keep the weapon unloaded until ready to use.
Pretty straightforward.
Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
Also clear and to the point.
Never handle a firearm when someone is downrange.
Not only did I impress it upon the lad to not handle a firearm when I was downrange changing targets, I made sure he was way against the back wall while I was doing so. I think he realized I was utterly serious.

There are, of course, other ways of expressing the safety principles above. But the point is clear: safety first, last and always.

With a target set at 25 meters, we proceeded with the Henry U.S. Survival .22 - a weapon I had purchased to spite Michael Moore [scroll down] and because I was deficient in the .22 department. After I showed him how to take up a proper position, how to get a good sight picture, how to control his breathing, how to load and clear the weapon, etc. With me on him like ugly on Helen Thomas, the lad took his first shot ever.

9 o'clock, on the edge of the black. Loading the Henry magazine one round at a time (to try to teach him to make that one shot count) the lad proceeded to fill the upper left quadrant of the target with little holes. Not bad for his very first time out - but more importantly, he learned to be safe. Being an almost teen, you might expect a boy to be rather rebellious - not my nephew. He actually checked with me before each step of the whole process. I was pretty proud of him.

I managed a 1.5" group at 25 meters over iron sights. I can do better. Then just for fun I broke out my M1 Carbine and put 50 rounds through it. 1-inch vertical 4-inch horizontal groups... I can definitely do better than that.

What an amazingly great day.

Posted by Russ at 10:05 PM | Comments (4)
First Year... Paper?

Aaron the Liberal Slayer has his first blog birthday today - go pay him a visit, and hit his Amazon wishlist.

Posted by Russ at 01:03 PM | Comments (1)
August 19, 2003
Encounter with Arnold

As promised, here's my brother's tale. Take it away, Brad....


So my buddy Mike and I were on the town one evening in the fall of 1996. After a couple of beers at a local hangout in Santa Monica, we decided to upscale the night a bit and go down to Schatzi On Main in Santa Monica.

Schatzi's is Schwarzenegger's restaurant, so Mike and I figured we could at least get a decent Austrian/German beer. When we arrived, it turned out that it was Oktoberfest-time and Arnold was setting things up with special live music and special Oktoberfest kegs flown in from the Old Country just for the occasion.

As we bellied up to the bar for a couple of $9 beers (Arnold might be a Conservative, but he's definitely a Capitalist), Mike asked the bartender "Where's Arnold?" The sudsman said, "Oh, he's in back." and nonchalantly pointed his thumb over his shoulder toward the back of the dining area.

I decided right then and there that we needed to say hello, so we headed toward the back. We got about halfway there, when a couple of security dudes let us know that the back area was off limits "for a while."

We weren't going anywhere, and decided to wait. Half an hour and half a Macanudo later, Mike and I were positioned perfectly to say hello if Arnold decided to call it a night before we did, and our patience was rewarded -- Arnold was working the room and headed in our direction. He shook a few hands but mostly waved that well-practiced celebrity wave. I was a bit surprised by one thing - he's only about 5'11" or 6'0" - not as big as he's made out to be on the bigscreen. At 6'5" I towered over him.

As Arnold got to where we were, I popped up and walked over to him and stuck out my hand. "Arnold, I'm a big fan" with that half stogie clenched in my teeth. He shook my hand and replied, "Ja, thank you." and before he could move off I added "..and a Republican." The double-take was the best - he smiled and said in his best Austro-English:




Posted by Russ at 10:30 PM | Comments (3)
August 15, 2003
War is Heck

The ranks swell in opposition to the hobo-murderer, and FrankJ leads the way.

Sure, sure, the vile Reynolds has about 10,000 times the readership, but we have... we have... well, something. I'm sure I can put either my military experience or my CCIE to good use. Or both, like these guys?

What is it good for?
Whacking puppy blenders!
Say it again!

Posted by Russ at 10:18 PM | Comments (2)
I swear, honey, it wasn't me!

A new victim on which to place the blame next time you... well, you know.

Heh. Now maybe the dog will forgive you for all the times you blamed him.

Posted by Russ at 09:33 PM
Coming Attractions

Coming next week: a visit by guest blogger (and brother) Brad, who's had a close encounter with California gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I'll probably not be able to spell "Schwarzenegger" the same way twice without cut-and-paste. I keep trying to insert a "t" before the "z". Maybe I need to define a keyboard macro.

Posted by Russ at 07:35 PM
Quote of the Day

I gladly -- nay, ecstatically -- left California behind me, but it continues to intrude into my life, stealing my attention from the things to which I'd rather pay attention....

Davis himself called the recall 'an insult' to those who voted for him. He's right: it is an insult to them, and they deserve it. Only an idiot would have voted for him last November.
Mark Steyn, in the Spectator (UK)

Posted by Russ at 05:36 PM
August 14, 2003
Quote of the Day
The first thing that people asked when the planes crashed into the twin towers was, “whose fault is this.” Well, it’s the fault of the idiots flying the airplanes for starters. But you can’t blame the intelligence community for not doing its job properly if you don’t give it proper support, and when was the last time the media supported the CIA? If you treat ‘em like dogs they’re going to urinate on the fire hydrant rather than get the burglar.
Tom Clancy, in a Newsweek interview
Posted by Russ at 06:05 PM | Comments (1)
A Banner Day

Around my house, you know it's a good day when the UPS man drops off:

  • the two latest Tom Clancy novels, Red Rabbit and The Teeth of the Tiger
  • four Rex Stout Nero Wolfe novels
  • Victor Davis Hanson's Carnage and Culture
  • Jac Weller's Wellington in India and Wellington in the Peninsula
I might be able to make these last as long as a whole month.

Posted by Russ at 05:31 PM | Comments (2)

Taking a couple days vacation until the middle of next week - but since I'm not going anywhere, blogging will either be heavy or light - I don't know.

See ya, either way.

Posted by Russ at 01:30 AM
August 12, 2003
An open letter to FoxNews

Something was bothering me about FoxNews - and James Taranto pointed it out, prompting me to say:

Jeez, will you people please stop calling them "homicide bombings"?

Of course they involve homicide - that's the damnable idea. What distinguishes them from a pipe-bomb in a mailbox or a car bomb in front of an embassy is the suicide of the splodeydope. Calling it a homicide bombing sounds just plain dopey, and it really grates on the nerves - I cringe when I hear it.

If you feel compelled to use a unique term for what is correctly referred to as a "suicide bombing," then by all means, use "genocide bombing." That, at least, would describe the real purpose of the attacks against Israeli schoolchildren, bus passengers, and market-goers.

A P.O.ed viewer

Glad I got that off my chest. Go ahead, call me pedantic.

UPDATE: Oops... neglected to link to the source for the term "genocide bombing" - fixed it above.

Posted by Russ at 07:32 PM
Quote of the Day
"Environmentalists are against crowding -- at least crowding where they live. Of course, this means that other places where they don't live will be more crowded than otherwise. But, somehow, that doesn't count. Nor do the people who die on a highway that the greenies don't want fixed."
Thomas Sowell, "The Real Voting"
Posted by Russ at 11:07 AM
August 11, 2003
Quote of the Day
"If one were to collate the recent news reports about the Mosul shootout, the lessons would be as follows: Read two mass killers their Miranda rights; duck their bullets when they shoot first; capture them alive; let Europeans cross-examine them in the Hague; lose no friendlies in the operation; do not disturb the residents next door; protect the Husseins' victims from such oppressors (but without cracking their plaster) — and in general remember that the entire scene will be filmed and then broadcast as Cops rather than as Hell is for Heroes."
Victor Davis Hanson, "How We Collapse" on NRO
Posted by Russ at 01:41 PM | Comments (1)
August 10, 2003
Quote of the Day
"We have no way of knowing if we are of any value to the human race. One person could be completely insignificant and never cause any ripple affect to any other person. But! We don’t KNOW that. We have no idea whether what we do (or do not do) could change the course of history."
Connie du Toit, "Volume"
Posted by Russ at 04:56 PM
August 09, 2003
Quote of the Day
"[California Governor] Davis has signed an ill-advised ban on PBDEs, a flame retardant popular especially with high-tech manufacturers in California (you all have them in your computers). The EU, naturally, banned PBDE's several years ago, and now has much higher rates of computer fires and injuries from other kinds of fires in products that used to have PBDEs.

"Funny; I'd have thought Davis would be in favor of flame retardants at the moment, since he is about to be torched."

Steve Hayward, in NRO's The Corner

Posted by Russ at 05:52 PM | Comments (2)
August 08, 2003
Friday Five

1. What's the last place you traveled to, outside your own home state/country?

New England. A three-day swing through Massachussetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. No, I'm not running in any presidential primary. Yes, it was hell.

2. What's the most bizarre/unusual thing that's ever happened to you while traveling?

Hmm. I blogged on this just yesterday. Fancy that. Not much to it, but frankly, I like my travel free of bizarre events.

3. If you could take off to anywhere, money and time being no object, where would you go?

Space. And not just a wussy near-Earth orbit -- it'd be at least as far as the Moon, but Mars would be far cooler (literally and metaphorically.)

4. Do you prefer traveling by plane, train or car?

Depends on how far I have to go. Going cross-country, or indeed any farther than a day's drive, the train rules -- hands down, no contest.

5. What's the next place on your list to visit?

Gettysburg. I must tour that battlefield. It's a moral imperative - I'm an American, after all.

And I'll stop at a peaceful field near Shanksville, too.

That's my Friday Five.

Posted by Russ at 07:51 PM
Quote of the Day

From the other Lileks column today:

Getting Time and Newsweek was quite the coup, but that's just the start for Howie Two Covers. By the time Dean fever peaks, he'll have been on the cover of Atlantic, Harper's, Model Railroad Quarterly, Pez Collector's Journal and probably Cosmopolitan ("Drive your base WILD with Dean's Hot Initiatives!").

Posted by Russ at 11:31 AM
August 07, 2003
Once More, With Feeling

Well, well, well. Al Gore shoots off his mouth.

In front of a cheering crowd of sycophantic moonbats -- the crowd -- the man voted "most likely to be mistaken for a petrified tree" delivered up a number of steaming piles of excrement.

"... most of the benefits of the tax cuts actually are going to the highest-income Americans, who, unfortunately, are the least likely group to spend money in ways that create jobs during times when the economy is weak and unemployment is rising."
Yes, Al. The "poor" are going to go out this minute and start businesses, hire employees, and make capital investments. They'll then give up over half their incomes in taxes. Sure.

No, Al, that's not how it works, but it would be pointless to try to educate you and your frothing-at-the-mouth fan club.

" In truth, the current executive branch of the U.S. government is radically different from any since the McKinley administration 100 years ago."
I suppose Al never heard of Teddy Roosevelt.
"... we still have the same bad economic policies and the problems have, if anything, gotten worse."
Al hasn't been reading the newspapers, apparently. Unemployment is going back down, the recession is over, companies are turning profits... there's good news breaking out all over. Except for Democrats who want to be president -- it's all bad news for them.

But then Al goes off into LoonyLand with his frenetic gibbering about the Iraq war. He tells his trollish followers about all the "false impressions" the Bush administration had given while making the case for war with Iraq:

"Saddam Hussein was partly responsible for the attack against us on September 11th, 2001...."
Gore lies. The Bush administration actively disclaimed this notion, even discounting a fairly credible Czech report that Iraqi agents met with the 9/11 hijackers in Prague.
"Saddam was working closely with Osama bin Laden and was actively supporting members of the Al Qaida terrorist group...."
Whether that impression was made or not, documents captured since the fall of the Baathist regime have confirmed the cooperation between Al Qaeda and Hussein.
"Saddam was about to give the terrorists poison gas and deadly germs that he had made into weapons which they could use to kill lots of Americans. "
Again, the Bush administration never made such a claim. What they did say was that such a scenario was possible. Is Gore denying the possibility? Has his hatred of George W. Bush completely blinded him? Yes. Yes, it has. Gore, and by extension the Democrat party, care less about national security than they care about scoring political points. That alone should disqualify them from ever holding power.
"Saddam was on the verge of building nuclear bombs and giving them to the terrorists...."
Uh... who said that? It wasn't Dubya. He did make a true statement on the general subject (remember those 16 words? They were true.)
"our GIs would be welcomed with open arms by cheering Iraqis...."
This is the closest Gore gets to the truth anywhere in the speech. Yes, there was a lot of speculation from all quarters on how the Iraqis would react, much of it overly optimistic. The Iraqi peoples' uncertainty about the outcome of the war -- understandable, given the propagandizing by the Husseins (and Al-Jazeera, and the BBC, and CNN, and, and, and...) -- muted many of their reactions at the beginning.

Not all, though. Remember these three words from a free Iraqi: "Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy!"

Ask the average Iraqi how they feel now about being freed from the Baathists. They're pretty darned pleased.

"...the rest of the world was mostly opposed to the war, [but] they would quickly fall in line after we won, and then contribute lots of money and soldiers to help out...."
A couple points here. First, why should we care what the rest of the world thinks? If France jumped off a bridge, I'm sure Al would be right there with them. Second, there are other countries helping out - just not the "old Europe" axis of weasels.

You know, I followed the run-up to war pretty closely. The "false impressions" Gore cited didn't come from President Bush -- they mostly came by way of extrapolations and exaggerations by the media, setting up strawmen for the Donks to try to knock down. Even then, the strawmen are hardly falling -- Gore can't land a punch, flail though he might. The Donks have no credibility whatsoever on the security of this nation.

Consider: on 9/11, did you say to yourself "Thank God Bush is president," or did you say "too bad Gore isn't president"?

Ya, that's what I thought.

UPDATE: Aw, nuts. I got beaten to it. Beaten like a rented mule.

Posted by Russ at 08:40 PM
Magic Moment

Some classics of airport humor were posted yesterday at Indigo Insights [at Blogsnot, so the usual caveats about permalinks apply.] [Yes, yes, "classics of airport humor" - as if there were such a thing.] Here's my story:

I and a college classmate were on a flight into San Jose on Southwest for a job interview. As our plane was coming in for landing there was a really seriously heavy crosswind and turbulence. The plane was rocking back and forth and pitching rather violently -- we kinda wondered if we'd get leveled off for the landing, or if we'd end up as a red smear on the runway.

As they are wont to do, the Southwest stewardesses were cracking jokes over the intercom, calming some visibly fraying passenger nerves.

At very nearly the last second, the pilot leveled the wings, flared, and greased the landing. To this day, it's the smoothest landing I've ever experienced.

The cabin intercom clicked on, and the pilot let us know what he thought of his skills:

"Ta daaaaa!"
A bit of bragging? Yes, but you know the old saying, "It ain't bragging if you can really do it." I'm glad he could "really do it" - I'm reasonably sure that hearing a bit of bragging is better than being a red smear on the end of a runway.

Posted by Russ at 01:54 PM | Comments (2)
Quote(s) of the day

From Lileks today:

My dad had a Kingston Trio record, and even at the tender age of 7 I could tell this stuff was for dweebs. The sound probably hung in your clothes like cigarette smoke; you'd pass bullies, they'd twitch their nose, hiss "Tom Dooley!" and beat you up. It's so frickin' earnest, that's what kills me. And so lyrically inane: "If I had a hammer." Well, what's stopping you? Go to the hardware store; they're about a buck-ninety, tops.
I am reminded of this from the comedian/actor Billy Connolly:
If I had a hammer, there's be no more folk singers.

Posted by Russ at 11:10 AM
August 06, 2003
No way

Sorry, Ben - there is no way I will ever go back to live in California.

(hat tip: Betsy)

Posted by Russ at 09:13 AM
August 05, 2003
Ho Ha Hee

Acidman asks: "Who do YOU think were the 10 FUNNIEST COMEDIANS OF ALL TIME?"

OK, so... define "comedian."

Comedy comes in all shapes and sizes. The funniest guy I know of isn't a professional comedian, but one of the two best friends I've ever had - and he can make anyone laugh, any time. He should be on the list.

What about writers? Most of the comedy we see today isn't created by the performer, but by a writer laboring in relative obscurity - though once in a while a comedic writer will make a lasting impression.

But the Acidman asked for comedians, by which I presume he means performers; "all time..." hmm... that's an awful long time, so I'll just stick with what I know. In no particular order:

  1. Steve Martin - "It's like those French have a different word for everything."
  2. Bill Cosby - "Right!"
  3. Laurel & Hardy - "Oh, well. Easy come, easy go."
  4. Bob Newhart - "I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means put down."
  5. Jack Benny - "Oh, Rochester...."
  6. Carol Burnett - [insert earlobe tug here]
  7. The Monty Python ensemble - "This is an ex-parrot!"
  8. Jackie Gleason - they didn't call him "the Great One" for nothing.
  9. Sid Caesar - 'nuff said.
  10. and yes, of course...

  11. Bob Hope - I grew up watching the "Road" movies; when the young men from my childhood church came back - or not - from Vietnam, I knew he'd been there for them. When I served in Korea, I hoped he wouldn't have to come visit - because that would have meant we were in the deep kimchi. He went to the Gulf in his late 80s - my grandfather's age - and supported the troops. He defined the expression "keep on keeping on."

Thanks, Bob, for the memories.

Posted by Russ at 11:21 PM | Comments (2)

If Pearls Before Swine isn't already one of your regular reads, it should be.

(The above cartoon was published 7/16/2003)

Posted by Russ at 02:04 PM
Thought Experiment

An 11th-hour accusation of sexual impropriety has, for the time being, stalled the confirmation proceedings of an openly gay man to be the Episcopalian bishop of New Hampshire.

Some will call this a smear. Some are already calling this a smear.

I don't know... I suspect there's some legitimacy there - the accuser has nothing to gain. But let's look at it from a different angle:

How skeptical would you be if it were a Catholic priest being accused?
Can you say "double standard?" I knew you could.

Posted by Russ at 11:28 AM
August 02, 2003
Wanna Bet?

Open Range, starring (among others) Kevin Costner, opens in about two weeks, on the 15th.

I'm going to make a prediction here. I predict that it will receive bad reviews. I'll see it anyway.

Will it really be bad? I doubt it. It's just that Hollywood hates any conservative, and Costner, though not exactly a member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, has been noted for his occasional non-leftist sentiments. I suspect that the anti-conservative bias in Hollywood has played a role in some of the reviews he's received.

Remember the reviews for The Postman? Waterworld? These are not terrible movies - perhaps not blockbuster successes, but certainly not as bad as the critics said they were. (The Postman is actually pretty decent, as post-Apocalypse movies go.) Heck, the Robin Hood movie wasn't awful, though Costner's accent could have used a little work. OK, OK, maybe a lot of work.

Movie critics, of course, are creatures of the Hollywood system - their livelihood often depends on their ability to "go along to get along" with the people they are paid to critique. Indeed, if such goings-on were common on Wall Street, half of America's financial community would be vacationing at Stony Lonesome.

In Hollywood, it means the actors, directors, producers and critics are almost universally swinging on the left side of the tree. Going along, getting along. No surprise there, of course.

I recently read that Roger Ebert is one such player - not just one of the crowd, though, but significantly more "progressive" (read, a bigger idiotarian) than the usual. Once a respectable critic, he's decided that the fame he earned as a critic means he should be taken seriously when he comments in arenas outside his realm of experience. That's OK, it's a free country. But considering all the times I took his reviews as near-gospel, without knowing his political leanings, how can I be expected to take him seriously? I mean, fer cryin' out loud, he liked the fraudulent Bowling for Columbine.

How do you suppose he might review a flattering biography of Ronald Reagan...? I don't have to suppose - he'd pan it, and take shots at Reagan all the while.

What was that recent movie about the unibrow communist trollop, down Mexico way? Frida? I'll bet he loved that one. Oh, ya, what do you know - he did.

Having political opinions isn't a bad thing. Injecting them into your work and claiming anything like objectivity is. (Ya, I'm looking at you, Peter Jennings.)

So, to make a long story short [Too late! - Ed.], I'll just ignore the critics and see what audiences have to say about Open Range. I dig a good western - and I'll be happy if my prediction is wrong.

Posted by Russ at 09:04 PM | Comments (1)
August 01, 2003
Nessie Lives!

Finally! There's now proof the Loch Ness monster really exists.

What proof, you may ask? How do we know Nessie exists?

Because the BBC says otherwise.

Posted by Russ at 09:23 PM
Insomniacs' Rule

I had to invoke the Insomniacs' 4:00am Rule today:

If you don't get to sleep by 4:00am, get up and make a pot of coffee - it's going to be a long day.
Well, maybe it doesn't apply to all insomniacs, but it sure does to me. If I fall asleep after 4:00am, there's not a chance I'll be able to wake up before noon -- and the day will be totally shot.

There are two corollaries to The Rule:

-- Lack of sleep doesn't mean you can skip work.
-- When you're stumbling around the office because you can't see straight, it's time to go home.
Light napping thereafter will be permitted.

Posted by Russ at 06:31 PM | Comments (2)