January 2004 Archives

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January 31, 2004
How did I miss this?

Bill Whittle describes the first set of Basic Skills in his "Building the Ideal American" series.

The ability to hit a baseball is what separates Americans from Animals and Socialists. It has been often said that there is no more difficult task in sports, for the very best practitioners in history are successful less than 4 times out of ten.

This ability to measure real success in the face of repeated failure is a core element of the Ideal American; therefore, we recommend that all Ideal Americans be able to hit a flying sphere with a wooden or aluminum stick.

This was published two weeks ago... how did I miss it?

SOCCER is also not recommended for the Ideal American, although it is immensely popular over every square inch of land beyond the US border. You will soon discover that Soccer is a complete mystery to your Ideal American. This is certainly not due to it’s complexity; soccer has two rules, one strategy, and can be instantly understood by amphibians and mollusks.

No, Soccer baffles your American because it so obviously reeks of incompetence, and this is deeply unsettling to all Ideal Americans. Your American will rapidly progress from shocked, to confused, to dismayed as he or she watches a team of eleven or twelve or however many they have run back and forth for an hour and a half on a field the size of New Jersey and still not be able to put a ball the size of a small pumpkin into a goal the size of an aircraft carrier at least two or three hundred times.

I guess I've been preoccupied. Shame on me.

Go read the whole thing.

Posted by Russ at 11:59 PM | Comments (5)
Oh, the (few) places I've been

I've been around the country:

But not too much of the world:

Yes, you see that correctly - I've been in North Korea. During a trip to Panmunjeom in 1990, we were allowed to go to the north side of the negotiating table, about ten feet across the border, inside the building constructed for the cease-fire talks in the '50s. All the while we were observed by heavily-armed stone-silent Nork MPs.

All in all, I'd rather go to the UK.

Create your own visited states map.
Create your own visited country map.

(Link via Blackfive.)

Posted by Russ at 02:11 PM
January 28, 2004
Words Fail Me

Stephen the DoggerelPundit (you may have seen his link over there on the right, under "Direction Finding") isn't a post-every-day blogger.

He's better than that.

Way better than that.

In response to a tribute to President Bush by Alaa the Mesopotamian, Stephen has penned an exceptional memorial. It's far better than I can adequately describe.

I challenge you to read it, "Of Masses," without reaching for a kleenex.

"Direction Finding," indeed.

Posted by Russ at 09:49 PM
Site Rebuild Underway

I have a bit of free time today, so I'll just take this opportunity to do some of the site upgrades I've been meaning to get done.

If you encounter any difficulty, please click on the "Email me" link over to the right column and let me know.

The Management

Posted by Russ at 10:24 AM | Comments (4)
Die, Spambots, Die!

I got hit by a spambot last night. Every single post.

I wonder if FrankJ will let me borrow Chomps, the world's angriest dog? I have a special mission for him....

Posted by Russ at 09:41 AM | Comments (2)
Nothing Better To Do

Thank the Good Lord that our military has enough free time on its hands to deal with threats like this.

Posted by Russ at 12:34 AM
January 27, 2004
Idle Hands

It occurs to me that since I have a bit of free time, I could spend some of it at the range.

I am inspired.

Hey, I can't just lay around waiting for my back to heal, you know.

Posted by Russ at 03:52 PM | Comments (1)
January 26, 2004

2001: with the downturn in the market that started the previous year, there were plenty of unemployed tech-heads... but I survived.

2004: I join the ranks of the unemployed. 7+ years on the job - that's long enough, one way or another.

More later.

(Anyone want to hire a network engineer? CCIE, too.... :-)

Posted by Russ at 02:38 PM | Comments (9)
January 25, 2004
Blustery Day IV

P.M. update: The temperature has dropped to 20°, maybe lower. Sleet, yes; freezing rain, no.

Still have electricity, of course (knock wood....)

I wonder what meteorological joys tomorrow will bring?

Posted by Russ at 09:44 PM | Comments (1)
Ethical (?) Edwards

Our delinquent North Carolina Senator local presidential candidate has run into a wee bit of a campaign financial ethics problem.

Timbo calls him on it.

Edwards has missed some significanly large proportion of Senate votes since he took office. He seems to have mostly avoided taking any particular stand that would simultaneously a) irritate us in NC and b) irritate Democrat primary voters.

You'd almost think that he was treating his tenure in the Senate as merely a stepping-stone to higher office.

Naaaah... couldn't be....

(BTW, check out the rest of Timbo's site, too.)

Posted by Russ at 06:52 PM | Comments (1)
Blustery Day III

3:00pm -- The snow has stopped at about 2", but the weather people keep calling for freezing rain or sleet.

Having grown up in southern California, I never had to deal with snow or ice in the winter, but college in Illinois and Michigan and Army service in Korea quickly taught me what I needed to know to deal with the cold. It isn't that hard.

I figured when I moved to North Carolina that people would be at least a little used to the idea of cold winter weather. I mean, it's snowed at least once each winter for the last four years... you'd think the weather people wouldn't start hyperventilating at the thought of a little precipitation.

Posted by Russ at 03:10 PM
Blustery Day II

12:00 noon: So far, no rain or sleet. Snow, maybe half an inch -- not much, but it just started.

Posted by Russ at 12:00 PM
Blustery Day

Having been a bit laid up due to the back injury, I haven't spent much time in front of the computer(s) doing my regular reading, and consequently I've had little to say.

Sorry about that. Maybe I should try to shift the laptop into the bedroom.

Last winter, we had an ice storm that took out hundreds of trees, and electricity in the Raleigh area was out for as long as a week in some places. My neighbors and I were lucky -- only a few trees down, and the power was up & running within 18 hours

This year, so far, we've been lucky, winter-weather-wise. Until today:


It shows snow for Raleigh, but the local weather folks are saying it's actually going to be sleet & freezing rain.

Oh, bother.

Posted by Russ at 10:19 AM
January 22, 2004
Quote of the Day

With regard to computers:

Interfaces are ok for newcomers, but people who actually know what they're doing use a magnetised needle and a steady hand.
Mike MacCana, on the linux-elitists mailing list

Posted by Russ at 08:18 AM
January 21, 2004
Quote of the Day
The price of freedom is high. You might think you would not sacrifice your life for it, but maybe you don't have to. After all, 20-year-old Americans are doing it for you, every day.
Australian journalist Caroline Overington, in The Age
Posted by Russ at 08:12 AM
January 20, 2004
Two out of three ain't bad

Not a bad speech from the President, overall. I'd have ended stonger, but still, not bad.

I heard two of the things I wanted to hear. War on Terrorism. Tax cuts.


I wish he'd finished with inspiring words on the future of the space program. Oh, well, can't have everything.

The best part of the speech:

Some critics have said our duties in Iraq must be internationalized. This particular criticism is hard to explain to our partners in Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, the Netherlands, Norway, El Salvador...
[Long standing ovation.]
... and the 17 other countries that have committed troops to Iraq. As we debate at home, we must never ignore the vital contributions of our international partners, or dismiss their sacrifices. From the beginning, America has sought international support for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we have gained much support. There is a difference, however, between leading a coalition of many nations, and submitting to the objections of a few. America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our people.
Hoo rah! If I could have stood, I would have. I had to settle for cheering and near-giddy laughter. And a big s***-eating grin.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Chirac.

Update: GMTA.

Posted by Russ at 10:29 PM | Comments (1)
January 18, 2004
Take care, Chief

On a more serious note, Chief Wiggles has also had a close call.

I've thought for a while that the media exposure of his "real-life identity" might make him a specific target of the die-hard Iraqi terrorists. I hope he's well protected.

(via the Puppy Blender)

Posted by Russ at 01:33 PM
January 17, 2004
Near Miss

Hillary! has had a narrow escape.

Posted by Russ at 10:32 AM
January 15, 2004
What do you owe?

Bill Whittle, again, with a different kind of post.

[Our] sacred Honor is being upheld by teenagers in uniform who have asked us to help them bring medicine, fire helmets and Frisbees to a people brutalized for two generations. Some of these kids, likely, will not come home. They know this. And still they go: volunteers all.
Go. Read. Click his link.

Posted by Russ at 01:52 PM
Quote of the Day

James Lileks:

I wonder if we can embrace a big idea again. The moon shot was nonpartisan – Kennedy dialed the number, Nixon talked to the astronauts. Politics stopped at the ionosphere’s edge; it was an American gambit. I’d like to think we can do that again. I want to watch the Moon Channel with my daughter in 2010.

I want my child to look at the night sky and always think: this is the beginning. This is square one. More, please; faster.

Amen to that. Read the whole thing.

Posted by Russ at 08:10 AM
January 14, 2004
Manual, Part 1

Building the Ideal American, Part 1.

It's by Bill Whittle, so you are required to go read it.

You may also find people sneering at and mocking you during the construction process. Most of them will likely be Europeans and may safely be ignored, a process that rapidly grows easier with practice.

People sneered at and mocked Noah while he was building the Ark. That didn't work out so well for them, did it?

Posted by Russ at 02:44 PM
Quote of the Day

I love Thomas Sowell.

This is an age when people who are contributing nothing to society gain fame and fortune by denouncing those who are contributing something, because those who are contributing something are not doing so the way idle on-lookers would wish, or in a way that those ignorant of the process would consider right.
"Random Thoughts"

Posted by Russ at 01:18 PM | Comments (1)
January 13, 2004
Back Injury Update

Recovery is coming along, but it's pretty slow. I'm back to work, via telecommuting.

FYI: the disks in the spinal column provide cushioning between the vertebrae, and allow the spine to flex. When a disk herniates, it bulges out of its usual place and in my case puts pressure on the nerves in the back, including the nerves that run down to the legs. Result: varying degrees of pain and immobility.

Over the last dozen years of dealing with this recurring problem, I've learned a few things. Here, then, are my...

Top Ten Reasons a Herniated Disk Is Bad

10. "Howard Hughes" toenails.

9. Going up and down the stairs requires the assistance of a team of sherpas.

8. Moved the spare TV out of the master bedroom just last month. Dang.

7. After waking up in the morning, still laying in bed, you realize that that's as good as you're going to feel all day.

6. Dropped something on the floor? Just leave it. It'll still be there next month.

5. Can't engage in some favorite pastimes... like standing or walking.

4. Bathroom expeditions... the less said, the better.

3. Cough? Ouch. Sneeze? OUCH.

2. "I have to crawl some errands" just doesn't sound right.

and the number one reason a herniated disk is bad:

1. Suddenly, those "I've fallen, and I can't get up" commercials aren't quite so amusing.

Posted by Russ at 06:27 PM | Comments (3)
Quote of the Day

Frank Gaffney, on Gen. Wesley Clark:

Anyone who pledges that, if elected, he will ensure the American people are never exposed to future terrorist incidents — including ones vastly more destructive than those that befell us 27 months ago — is sufficiently delusional or dishonest, or both, to be disqualified for the Oval Office.
in "General Disqualification" at National Review Online

Posted by Russ at 09:33 AM
January 12, 2004
Comic of the Day

Pearls Before Swine has in the past year or so become among my favorite comic strips. How can you not love a strip in which the main characters are a pig named "Pig" and a rat named "Rat," and in which Zebra remains optimistic about the course of zebra-crocodile relations?

Though usually on the silly and/or light-hearted side, the author occasionally writes/draws a strip that falls on the more poignant side... like this strip, from December 28th:


(Click image for larger.)

In a Fair & Just world, there's be a Pulitzer Prize or some similar award with Stephan Pastis' name on it.

Posted by Russ at 01:01 PM
Quote of the Day

Ann Coulter:

Everything you do -- from driving to earning a living to making a cup of coffee to owning a home to getting medical care -- is more expensive and difficult simply because of trial lawyers, who, at the same time, contribute absolutely nothing of any value to society. You can't buy as simple a device as a telephone without having to wade through a 50-page manual to locate information you actually need, like what your new security code is. (How about adding a one-page short list of instructions for consumers who already know not to place their phones in a microwave oven?) But other than the fact that trial lawyers have made every single facet of life worse, I can't think of a single good reason to dislike them.
In an interview by FrontPage Magazine

Posted by Russ at 09:49 AM | Comments (1)
January 10, 2004
History Lesson

The narcotics-impaired [or just plain stupid] elements of the Left in this country need to take their history lessons over again. It's clear they didn't learn anything the first time around.

"Bush is Hitler," we hear them wail. Apparently, they haven't the slightest idea what evil Hitler wrought.

James, on the other hand, explains in a manner that ought to make some impression on idiotarian skulls.

[In my perfect world, the best thing to make such an impression would be generally categorized as a "blunt object."]

[And in an even more perfect world, there'd be no idiotarians at all.]

Posted by Russ at 12:00 PM
January 09, 2004
Blogroll Addition

George Turner, one of the brightest of the non-blogging Loyal Citizens, is now blogging as the Knight Errant.

Go. See.

Update: George, displaying his intelligence, rapidly dropped blog-city.com and moved to TypePad - go see him instead at BastardSword.

Posted by Russ at 09:49 PM | Comments (3)
Winter Wonderland

The view from my back deck today.

I love it. Maybe it's because I've not lived in many places where it snows, but I find myself always enamored of fresh snowfall.


(Click photo to view larger image.)

Posted by Russ at 02:30 PM
Better but not good

I'd like to take this wee-hours-of-the-morning moment to state, clearly and unequivocally:

Back pain sucks.

If you've ever had a back injury (as opposed to a mere backache) you know what mean. If you haven't, consider yourself fortunate.

Example: I'm running out of fresh groceries, but I cannot get my shoes & socks on to get out of the house and go to the grocery store. Well, maybe a bit more rest will help with that. At least I can sit up for a couple hours at a time now.

Big stinkin' deal. At this rate of recovery, I'll be ready for a triathlon in, oh, maybe 75 years.

[Why am I blogging at this hour of the morning? Well, you try spending all day laying in bed doing nothing. Ya, I have a bit of left-over energy.]

Posted by Russ at 03:50 AM | Comments (2)
January 08, 2004
Back Update

Sorry, folks -- still down.

I can sit up for maybe 30 minutes at a time now, before I have to lay down to get the pressure off my lower spine.

It really puts a damper on my working, browsing, and blogging... not to mention the mundane things, like putting on shoes.

I tried Vicodin, which works -- but it makes me sick. Maybe a set of those gravity boots and an inverted workstation would do the trick -- but with the bending required, I'd never be able to get myself in or out of such a rig.


Posted by Russ at 07:32 AM
January 06, 2004
Shoot me. Please.

Ouch. I've re-herniated the bad disk, as described here.

Painful. This happens once every year or so.

I need to go lie down. Preferably in a hole six feet deep.

Posted by Russ at 10:54 AM | Comments (2)
January 05, 2004
Quote of the Day
Writing in The New York Times on December 28, Jim Wallis (editor of the religious-left Sojourners magazine) tells Democrats that they can compete among evangelicals with their own "religious" agenda.

"How a candidate deals with poverty is a religious issue, and the Bush administration’s failure to support poor working families should be named as a religious failure," Wallis scribbles.

"Neglect of the environment is a religious issue," Wallis continues. "Fighting pre-emptive wars based on false claims is a religious issue (a fact not changed by the capture of Saddam Hussein)."

But this is Christianity For Idiots. Like the Torah before him, Jesus said you help the poor. He didn’t tell his disciples to enlist government to pick pockets to succor the widow and orphan. Moreover, it’s nigh impossible to reconcile a welfare system that’s resulted in over 80 percent illegitimacy in the inner-cities with Christian compassion. [Emphasis mine.]

The always quotable Don Feder, Dems Get Religion

Posted by Russ at 09:45 AM
Good Advice

Go see Jennifer's Rules For Gunfighting.

Posted by Russ at 09:26 AM
January 04, 2004
Another Giant Leap

The Martian missile launchers must have been on the fritz tonight:

NASA Rover Lands on Mars, Signals Earth

I just finished watching the NASA/JPL press conference a little while ago. The mood of exuberance was palpable.

Good job so far, lads.

Posted by Russ at 01:26 AM | Comments (1)
January 03, 2004
Quote of the Day
Napoleon was one of the most brilliant generals of all time. Not only did he get 1.2 million Frenchman senselessly killed, but he also got most of Europe to hate the French even more than they normally would.
George Turner, remarks in the Imperial Chatroom
Posted by Russ at 01:13 AM | Comments (1)