Tuesday, February 28

It's Catholic day on 'interact'!

Guess that's appropriate for Mardi Gras ;-)

Eric has an interesting post regarding Catholic politicians where he links a column in the WaPo entitled Public officials under God. It concerns a new statement by some Catholic politicians on the tension in their relationships. Kerry being denied communion is a test case.

I commented on Eric's post, but I don't think I'll repost it here. Go over there if you want to read it ;-)

Faith, Life, Pacifism, Justice, War and Globalization

Got an email today from a card-carrying anti-war, tradition-loving Catholic (not meant to be a pejorative description at all) re: my work with Tom. I thought part of my response might be worth quoting here:

I subscribe to much of the Culture of Life. i am a distant admirer of Fr. John Neuhaus. as a left-leaning Evangelical, you and i have a lot in common. i used to be anti-war myself. but i deeply believe the old saw 'If you want peace, work for justice.' and sometimes i think war and *gasp* globalization can help to bring justice better than pacifism and traditionalism.

I surprised myself with that description, a little, but I think it encapuslates pretty well where I am on these issues these days.

Wil's watch

I was eating at Burger King last month and picked up one of those Star Wars watches for Wil. We held it for him until Valentine's Day. He liked it pretty well. The first day or so he was so cute, giving updates on the time as often as every minute, especially when we were laying down reading before bed. It's too big for his little arm, and fairly uncomfortable, so I think he noticed it a lot. 'Daddy, it's 7:53.' 'Daddy, it's 7:54'. He's a sweet boy.

[cross-posted to 'interact' and 'twinlog']

NoNewsFilter: Catching up on personal weblog links

+ Mark has a really interesting post on Khruschev's secret speech.

+ Brad has a post on the prefab BreezeHouse, designed to blur the lines between inside and outside. Still a little high for my price range, though...

+ Brad also has a short post called Younger workers falling further behind that I'll go ahead and quote completely:

A new survey shows that median incomes fell for US householders under 45, (that is, those who will be providing my social security someday). However, median incomes for older householders rose during the same 2001 through 2004 survey period.

Without going into too much detail, I'll just say I resemble that remark.

+ Christine has a nice, new post on Elizabeth that didn't get cross-posted over here. I recorded the twins reading on sunday and will get the files up when I can...

Monday, February 27

Smiley alert!

I've got smileys in my comments now. Hooray! For all my snark and cynicism, I do like a few basic smileys. Heck, my favorite ;-) helps me be snarky. Can't find which smileys are supported, so I'll test them in the comments on this thread. Feel free to have a go...

Sunday, February 26

Gmail updates

+ Dirty little secret: I've been having problems with Firefox and Gmail, so I'm now reading Gmail in *gasp!* Internet Explorer.
+ Gmail has a new feature where you can change the 'From' address, especially useful if you receive mail from multiple email addresses in your Gmail account. I myself have four and, while I can usually use one of the generic ones ( gmail.com or meadenet.com ), sometimes I need one of the specific ones. It's especially useful for tagging my webmaster work. Cool.

Iowa sports update

+ A couple weeks ago, SI's Faces in the Crowd featured 2/6 Iowan athletes:
+ Nosing around on the Wartburg site, I see that they finally got a bigger PE-center approved, with an indoor pool, that will be for the whole community. Looking at the site plan, they're going to basically shoe-horn that thing into every available bit of space at that end of campus.
This facility will be one of the largest NCAA Division III wellness centers in the nation.

Saturday, February 25

Connections from before 1990

+ Please, Hammer, don't hurt 'em! Did you see MC Hammer has a Blogspot weblog?
+ I probably wouldn't characterize President Bush as Sark, but defective yeti's extended parody of the port situation in terms of Tron is amazing, just from a geek point of view.
+ I forget where I ran across it, but here's a sortable list of how particular majors perform on tests, with philosophy the overall top performer. Smart, but ill-equipped for the job market. Remember my mantra: too smart is dumb.
+ I'd forgotten about Charlie and his weblog until he commented on my West High thread recently. Charlie and I have lots of things in common including Iowa City West, Wartburg, and the Cubs. If only he'd post more often, I could include him in my blogroll ;-)

Friday, February 24

Research day: George Washington... and environs

Mark has a great post on the excellence of George Washington (you know, for Washington's birthday yesterday).

One minor note from me: I noticed the painting Mark mentions, The Apotheosis [man-becoming-god] of Washington , when I visited the capitol in 1993. My thought then: Think we have civil religion?

Washington: good. Civil religion: bad. I'm after the sweet spot.

This topic led me to read up on Washington at Wikipedia, with much enjoyment. I did not know, or had forgotten, that he was posthumously promoted to General of the Armies and it was decreed that no one could ever outrank him.

Reading about Washington led me to Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben , who brought Prussian organization and training methods to the Continental Army.

Also clicked from Washington to Historical rankings of United States Presidents
. I don't think I'll take exception with the survey results: it's a pretty subjective thing. I do like the average ranking chart with some of the reasons for that president's placement. And you know I'm a Nixon-hater, but I wonder if some of his positive leadership should ameliorate such a low ranking...

Also clicked to Alexander Hamilton. I was interested to read about his strong Federalist opinions, over against Jefferson's Republicanism. At first, I thought I'm more in line with Jefferson. Then I thought, that's probably true today, but would the US have ever grown to a point where it could support Republicanism (eg, state's rights and free trade) without having some strong Federalist influences in the early days?

Saturday, February 18

The Iowa native writes from SC

+ Look out: Since Mike Davis has resigned, IU will be after Steve Alford.

Wrote the above two or three days ago, but left in drafts. Now check out this headline: Indiana's Coach Search Focuses on Alford .

Within minutes of Mike Davis's resignation, Steve Alford was a reluctant and tightlipped front-runner for the Indiana basketball coaching job.

You ask me, Alford's got a pretty good thing going at Iowa, where the pressure to win is less and where football success helps to take some pressure  off the basketball program.

Of course, it'd be tempting to go home.

On the other hand, 'you can't go home again.'

+ How do you like this for an Iowa City headline: Area sees rare 'thunder snow'

Thursday, February 16

My research and resulting excitement about the next generation Nintendo game console

Note: This post started out as a sub-post and quickly got out of hand.

2nd note: This is the development that Christine has been fearing.

Now that we're devoted Nintendo players in our house, time so start watching the next geneation Nintendo console, codenamed 'Revolution'. (Don't worry, Christine: we won't 'need' one 'til sometime next year and it'll play GameCube games ;-) (Christine's imagined rejoinder: 'You won't 'need' one ever and if you want one you better ask the mom (Sean's) who got you and Wil your first one!)
  • Wish: they wouldn't go with proprietary disks. To paraphrase Fletch 'everything's CD/DVD these days'. Would it be too much to ask to just use those and let me play CDs, mp3CDs, and DVDs in my Revoluton? (Upon further reading, you'll be able to this with a slight add on, which is ok but not optimal.) However, I'll gladly sacrifice those powers if they keep it lean. No XBox/Micr$oft bloat, please.
  • Bet: with the popularity of the DS, they'll make it so you can connect DS(es) with wires or wirelessly.
  • Yikes: if motion-sensitive speculation about the new wireless controllers is right, Wil's gonna have to lose some of the body english he uses in his gameplay ;-)
  • I almost hate to say this, but, in one sense, the early pix of the 'Revolution' make it look like the Apple of gaming consoles.
Looking at the Wikipedia article:
  • looks like it'll connect via broadband to the Internet. That means we'll be needing to upgrade to full DSL or, preferably, cable in the next year to go ahead and pave the way. After that, on the wishlist, a decent laptop for me with Wi-Fi, which'll help with my new moonlighting job. Then, sometime in 2007: the Revolution! ;-)
  • look at those controllers! I don't like the 'remote control' formfactor, but if you can swing it like a sword, look out!
    • 'the controller can be used like an NES controller when turned counterclockwise'
    • and it takes an analog stick peripheral called a nunchaku!
    • 'Nintendo has also announced a controller "shell" which will resemble a traditional game controller called the "Classic-Style Expansion Controller". The Revolution "remote" will fit inside this shell which will allow gamers to play games using a traditional controller while retaining the "remote"'s motion sensitivity.' How cool is that!?!

More soul searching (on account of sole possession...)

+ The day after I ask if, among other things, I need to follow sports less, the Hawks win a big game putting them in sole possession of first place in the Big Ten . *sigh*

+ Had some good comments on my soul-searching. Aaron said Daunte and Moe were stupid, but not send-to-another-team stupid. Eric said he'd give Daunte the benefit of doubt, but how much of this stuff goes uncaught (I'm including Cheney's lack of a hunting license)? That's part of my point: just try to imagine all of the stupid and immoral stuff that's not even against the law. Then try to think of all the stupid and immoral stuff that's against the law that no one catches. It beggars the imagination, doesn't it? Ugh.

Tuesday, February 14

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, Valentine's Day Edition

Struck by all of the junk in the headlines today about people of authority/privilege breaking the law, not to mind transgressing nomical morality. So I give you every headline of that kind from my My Way homepage:
What's the deal? Are these just normal people getting caught? Do they think they're above the law? Do they flout it? It stinks.

One response anyone as disgusted as I am should have is to dial down their 'fandom' on some of this stuff.

Related thought: If Daunte's implicated, should the Vikings deal him, go with Johnson for now, and look to draft a QB for the future? Should I pull back on how much I follow the NFL?

Monday, February 13

Doggone US inability to cut spending

Reading these figures from an NYT analysis of the QDR on Tom's website makes me want to puke:

It's amazing how Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Department can produce a $439 billion spending plan and still skimp on the one thing the American military desperately needs: expanded ground forces so the weakened and cannibalized Army can meet the requirements of Iraq without hurting its ability to respond to other threats.

While the Pentagon intends to increase pay and recruitment bonuses, no part of its nearly 7 percent budget increase is aimed at raising overall troop strength. Instead, a large chunk of this nearly $30 billion bonanza goes to buying more new weapons and postponing overdue cuts in wasteful Air Force and Navy projects unrelated to fighting terrorism…  

Instead of reallocating resources toward the real threats America faces, the military services continue to pour their money into fighting fictive suerpowers in the wild blue yonder and on and below the seven seas. Pentagon budgeters showed themselves so pathetically unable to restrain spending on expensive ships and planes that they actually cut back, rather than increased, the overall size of the Army over the next few years to pay for it.  

It would cost about $4 billion to $5 billion a year to give the Army 30,000 more troops, the minimum it needs to check its alarming slide. Instead the Pentagon chose to begin the construction of two unneeded new stealth destroyers, which will end up costing $2 billion to $3 billion each.  It also decided to splurge on a new nuclear attack submarine for $2.6 billion and to shell out $5.5 billion for separate Navy and Air Force versions of new stealth fighter jets, plus another $5.5 billion for yet a third version that either can use…

Can't really blame 'the Pentagon' as a whole, because I know (again Tom's work) that there are lots of good folks working in there. I can blame Rumsfeld and the Joint Chiefs because they're the ones the buck stops with over there. On the other hand, they're fighting a couple of wars and have their hands pretty full.

I can blame President Bush and say that this is just one more item in his long history of overspending. 'Cut taxes and spend', to adapt his father's criticism of the Democrats. But his political situation right now also makes it hard for him to stand up and say 'No, you're not getting 5 new platforms when our current platforms are without peer,' not least of all to the Congress-people in whose districts and states these things are made. Ultimately, I guess I'll have to blame the Pentagon, the President, and the Congress... oh yeah, and the American people who pay the bills and vote these jokers into office, of whom the whole circus is certainly a reflection.


Cool, new Web 2.0-ish sites

coComment wants to help you keep track of your comments across weblogs. It's still in private beta. You can email them for an invite. I emailed last night and had my invite by this morning. I've been wanting a tool like this, though this one is still ramping up. I'll let you know how I like it.

Newsvine is a big mashup of news, weblogging, and even ad revenue. You can watch certain tags, write your own 'column', and 'seed the vine' with stories. What I wish it had is a button to simply link a story from my column and post my comment easily. If they did, I might do my 'newsfiltering' more over there. I've got 20 invites to this beta if you want one. Thanks to my buddy Critt Jarvis for the invite to this one.

Friday, February 10

A few thoughts for friday

+ Take bad money, get indicted, garner promotion: DeLay Lands Coveted Appropriations Spot . I'm surrounded by crazy people.

+ Worthy of more attention: Camp Katrina Blog : a weblog covering all of the good (especially humanitarian) things the US Military is doing. Everything on their site points to the SysAdmin concept Tom champions.

+ I like ESPN plenty. PTI is funny. Do I want those guys calling my Monday Night Football games? No. Do I want Joe Thiesmann anywhere in my hearing? No. Do I get what I want? No.

Then again, I mostly go to bed too early to watch MNF anymore, anyway. And I don't have cable and don't expect to before for the fall and wouldn't get it just for MNF. If ESPN has a web broadcast, I might check it out (though I won't pay for it).

So, all in all, Al Michaels, the best play-by-play man in the game, moving to NBC is probably better for me. Though I used to dislike Madden, I can take or leave him now.

Wednesday, February 8

My word cloud

For the link of which I am about to partake, I thank you, Jaq.

I always like this kind of thing. Plug in your website/log and this app will make you an image for screen on a shirt or posting to your weblog.

  • Seems a little recent. I wonder how deep this thing goes...
  • Some of the terms obviously go together: super bowl, big ben, wal mart.
  • Some are totally defunct: collaboratory

Tom's take on the QDR

Tom's take on the QDR

In short: all of the services and contractors (and districts/states and the Congress-members) get some of what they want. The people who don't get what they want are those who want fiscal responsibility. The Bush Administration is basically saying 'We have to spend extra because we're at war.' and then they don't have to make the hard choices. What they should do is drastically reduce those big, expensive weapons systems and get this thing under control. But, like to many other fiscal decisions in this administration, they're putting off those hard choices for the future. We get to pay for it later, with interest. A quote from Tom:

So, for now, "A's" all around with a huge "F" for sustainability. It is unsustainable to buy a Big War force in a Small War world. It is unsustainable to expect the Chinese to pay for a Big War force [through their significant purchasing of our sovereign debt] directed primarily against them. It is unsustainable to deny ourselves the aid of major allies, to include China most of all (that body shop of a military). It is unsustainable not to do a better job gaining acceptance of our new security rule sets in this Long War because we're so highhanded and arrogant in our application.

Proud parent of rock stars

Listening to my flash player on the way home with the twins today. They were rocking out a little to 'One for the mockingbird', then asked me to play it again when it finished, rocking out even more. Then they rocked out some to 'Owner of a lonely heart'. I am understandably proud.

Tuesday, February 7

My thoughts on the Danish cartoon debacle

It's a crazy, clash of civilizations-type situation.

First, newsy link for reference.

My thoughts, without much filtering or integration (that is to say, quasi-stream of consciousness):
  • It's ironic that, in some ways, these cartoons are causing more upset than the War on Terrorism. The Danish ambassador to Lebanon was on NPR today and called it 'the so-called' War on Terrorism. Even when they're the ones apologizing for offenses and getting hammered, they still maintain their holier-(by way of more liberal thought and sophisitication)-than-thou attitude.
  • One of the objections is to portraying Muhammad with a bomb for a hat. Violent protests won't dispell that perception. Plus, is it really that unfair? I've said this before. Muhammad took Mecca by force. He advocated violence. Many conservative Muslims approve of violence and jihad. Iran says they will review their existing trade with other nations because of 'an anti-Islamic and Islamophobic current'. If they want to conduct their trade that way, that's their business. But their their involvement with violent, fundamentalist Islam and their rhetoric regarding Israel makes it hard to accept them as equal, international partners in trade
  • Jesus, the god of Christianity, is blasphemed every day in the Western world, certainly in Denmark and America. South Park does it. Robert Maplethorpe does it. Innumerable 'musicians' do it. Blasphemy is worse than disrespect of a human prophet. You don't see anyone demonstrating or apologizing for that.
  • Of course, Freedom of Speech is much more important in the West than in most Muslim nations.
  • While I will defend Freedom of Speech on principle (though maybe not to the death, like the famous patriot), and it is a necessary pillar of republican (strictly speaking) capitalism, it would benefit us to be more civil in our treatments of the very sincere faith of others. France's foreign minister calls 'on all Arab countries to talk with moderation about what is happening.' If I were Muslim, I'd say 'Screw you. You want to point fingers, the Danes are closer to you.' Besides, unless I'm much mistaken, Iran, for example, isn't even Arab, as many Muslim people are not. You'd like the foreign minister to be a little more 'sensitive', but that's probably asking for too much with France.
  • At the same time, mob violence is, of course, reprehensible and unacceptable.
  • Not feeling very coherent in my train of thoughts, here, but there they are.
A more integrated and, as usual, useful take is available from Mark. In a nutshell, Mark says we need to hold the line of Freedom of Speech and no quarter for Jihadi-Salafists.

Tom's got a post called Crying 'Muhammad' in crowded theater. I agree with his basic take here: the Danes have a right to do this stuff, but it's neither sensitive nor smart. I like this quote:

I mean, you see the Europeans shooting themselves in the feet on this one and you just have to laugh out loud at this slew of books over the past year predicting how Europe is going to lead the world as the next great superpower. Good God! Could reality and rhetoric be more separated?

Conculsion? There's plenty of blame to go around. We cannot and should not give ground on Freedom of Speech. No quarter for jihadists. Keep hammering them.

But not with cartoons that offend non-jihadist Muslims. Anyone has a right to publish or support the publishing of such cartoons, as long as they take responsibility for the fallout. Those of us who play on the global stage, including the Denmark, France and the US should keep one eye on order in our own house. Western Europe has some issues with sensitivity and tolerance of Muslims. Do you want Muslims living and working in your country or not? Do you want global relations with Muslims or not?

I wish all of this were more coherent, but I'm just not writing myself very clear on this, and that's all the time I have to give to it.

Weekend report: Starfox and Super Bowl

+ Oy. Biggest time-sink of the weekend: Starfox Adventures. A friend loaned it to us and we're having a lot of fun with it.

+ I did have time to watch the Super Bowl, though. The Steelers played pretty well, and congratulations to them. Eric V must be so happy. I'm happy for him and Cowher and Big Ben (easier than spelling Roethlisberger). Not sure there really was an MVP, but since they're going to pick one, I was glad to see Hines Ward get it. Just made sense with his two long yardage plays. Loved the trick play with Randle-El.

My only hesitation with Pittsburgh winning, which I've said before, is why pull for someone who already has 4 titles when so many have none? But there you go.

I think this article's a little unfair to Ben. He wasn't great, but he had some good tough scrambles and the 1st down to Ward to set up Ben's scrambling touchdown was a pretty good play.

Most impressive, as the article notes, Pittsburgh beat the NFL's top 4 teams in the playoffs, and on the road. They're a talented team that peaked at the right time and had the ball (and the calls) bounce their way when they needed it.

Sunday, February 5

Hawks win, QDR and the Hall of Fame

+ The Hawks crushed Michigan today to solidify first place in the Big Ten. And, if I'm not mistaken, Eric was home in Iowa, watching the game with his folks and getting ready to cheer on the other black and gold tomorrow. Bet he's a happy guy...

+ Here's a headline for ya: Emmitt: How Can You Keep Michael Irvin Out of the Hall of Fame? Answer: because he's a coke-head.

+ Pentagon plans new arms to meet rivals like China . Tom's not going to be happy about this (the official QDR), especially all of that money to modernize our second-to-none bomber fleet. The Pentagon does not need more money. The Air Force and Navy do not need more money. More money needs to be allocated for soldiers and marines and less money needs to be allocated for machines (planes, ships, Star Wars, etc).

Thursday, February 2

Dilbert and Ben

+ Love that Dilbert today on the value of a liberal arts education.

+ Matt Haughey reports that Ben Roethlisberger has a weblog. I go to it and see that a lot of the comments are from girls and Eric V ;-). Then I navigate back and see that he's had it since August 2004, back before he was a starter and mega-popular. That's pretty cool.