Thursday, March 30

100 best first lines?

Languishing in my inbox for some time: 100 Best First Lines from Novels (via kottke). A few thoughts:

Mostly the usual suspects.

This one took me by surprise:

46. Ages ago, Alex, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and Alva allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex's admonition, against Allen's angry assertion: another African amusement . . . anyhow, as all argued, an awesome African army assembled and arduously advanced against an African anthill, assiduously annihilating ant after ant, and afterward, Alex astonishingly accuses Albert as also accepting Africa's antipodal ant annexation.  —Walter Abish, Alphabetical Africa (1974)

This list shows a preference for avant-garde and philosophical first lines.

What do you think (especially you, Jason)?

Some serious stuff, some not so

+ Mark's criticisms provide a thoughtful counterpoint to my pro-immigration stance:

[M]embers of Congress of both parties hold views approximately inverse to those of their constitutents. Put to a referendum, it would be all but certain that the American people would vote for very tough penalties on illegal immigrants and those who employ them...

Now, as I have said, immigration is generally positive, particularly in the long run but the current immigration policy is not, neither economically or in terms of national security. Nor are the costs of immigration, legal and illegal, equitably shared. Tellingly though, the status quo, which is generally unfavorable to America, does benefit our bipartisan elite while imposing real costs on average Americans in the form of depressed wages, higher taxes, higher crime rates and strains on educational, health and welfare systems.

The rest of the post addresses the 'bipartisan elite'.

I need to mull over these ideas...

+ Though S Korea is often cited as the world's most wired country, a new poll presents a different perspective:

When pollsters for Ipsos Insight recently asked 6,500 people in 12 countries whether they had used the Internet in the past month, 68 percent of South Koreans said yes. That ranked No. 4, behind Japan (89 percent), Canada (72 percent) and the United States (71 percent).

Of course, the references to S Korea I've seen before mostly refer to broadband in Seoul. Probably depends on what questions you ask, aye?

+ Matt links a beautiful, hand-designed-look personal website . Speaking as a web hack who also happens to be lazy, but recognizes quality when he sees it, there's some real craft there.

+ From Dilbert today:

Marketing Biathalon: You ski up to people who won't buy your crap and shoot them.

That's comic gold.

+ Speaking of comic gold, did I ever link the 2004 ticket of Bush/Zombie Reagan?

+ Why do I comb the Intarweb for these nuggets of news? For you, dear reader; for you. :-)

Wednesday, March 29

Looking at my site meter

Wow. Haven't looked at those stats in a long time.

Says I average 46 visits per day. I wonder how feed readers factor into that, if at all.

I am the number 2 result for the search yoshimi she worked for the city and she had to discipline, which dominates!

Hmm. Someone came over from the Official Google Blog. Why is that? Because they have auto trackbacks/links to this post, and I linked to it and my title obviously stood out to that person, so, voila! Conclusion: might have to link to the Google Blog more often ;-)

From our man in Waterloo... [updated]

[Update: Jason lives in Waterloo. I knew that. Duh, me!]

'interact's top correspondent, Jason Streed (remember when he had his own weblog :-( ), files this report with reference to recent posts:

[O]ur Favonius also won at least one award at the state level :-)

[R]e: immigrant populations, I thought maybe armed forces enlistment data would be an interesting indicator of something or other. I'm not sure what, really, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Anyway, here's the top result in my one second of googling on that--via their cache as the actual page didn't load nice.

Something I would add to the immigration discussion is that honorable service in the armed forces (v. service ending in dishonorable discharge) should be a sure-fire path to citizenship.

Thanks, Jason!


I wrote this to Macon, then thought 'That would make a good post!' :-)

You may not care for NPR. That's not the point. I LOVE their coverage of the Supreme Court when they are able to release audio the same day. It's SO INTERESTING to listen to how the judges interact with the lawyers and one another. Go listen!

Cleaning out the old inbox

+ So, Indiana's getting Kelvin Sampson. He's a winner.

But, they want to win National Championships and he's never won one.

And, his recruiting is being investigated by the NCAA.

And, his program at OU didn't graduate athletes at a very high rate.

Stuff to think about...

+ Our Lt Gov was clocked doing 101 but not ticketed. Sheesh.

+ kottke linked this a while ago and I've been meaning to link it, especially since Paul and I are so interested in razor blade proliferation. At this pace, we could be at 14 blades by 2011!

+ One of my favorite bumper stickers of all time:

Forget world peace
Visualize using your turn signal!

Tuesday, March 28

The western wind, blowing me back...

The West High literary magazine, Favonius, earned an "excellent" rating from the National Council of Teachers of English. Jason and I worked on that some/had poetry in it back in the day.

I thought up until this minute that 'Favonius' was Greek for 'west wind'. Just shows I haven't thought about it in awhile. Because, when I went to write it I thought 'But that doesn't look like a Greek word. It looks like Latin.' Sure enough: Favonius is the Roman god of the west (favorable, hence the name) wind. The Greek equivalent would be Zephyrus.

Man, I'm good. ;-) Just thought and Googled myself out of at least 17 years of mistakenness.

17 years... That's half my life ago. Not sure what to think about that...

Let's talk about immigration

Talking points:

+ The President is right:

No one should pretend that immigrants are a threat to American identity, because immigrants have shaped America's identity... No one should claim that immigrants are a burden on our economy because the work and enterprise of immigrants helps sustain our economy

We need more population, especially to do what Tom calls the 3D jobs (dirty, dangerous and difficult ). Remember that Peter Drucker told us our biggest challenge would be scarcity of labor? Our birth-replacement rate is dropping. If we don't want to become Europe eventually (not that there's any immediate danger), we need immigrants just from a simple, economic point of view.

Aren't people only against immigration because they're worried about jobs? We need to get Americans retrained for higher-paying, better jobs that immigrants can't do and let the immigrants come. And then their children will bump up to middle class, too. That's the churn I think we should be after.
+ Being an 'illegal alien' should not be a felony.
+ On the other hand, having 'illegal aliens' and their children protesting grates a little bit. It's because of us that they want to and get to be here. Which part of that free education (albeit partially paid for by taxes paid by illegal aliens) are you protesting?
+ You will never be able to keep out immigrants as long as there is a market for their labor. Again, that's simple economics.
+ I would, of course, like to see guest workers in good standing be able to progress to citizenship. In that respect, I favor the McCain/Kennedy bill:

Employers and immigration advocates prefer a bill drafted by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., that would allow illegal immigrants to become eligible for permanent residency after working for six years.

+ Making it a crime to help 'illegal aliens' is certainly a bad idea. Making it a crime to employ them probably is, too.
+ Here's a pretty decent AP graphic on legal status, country of origin, and jobs they take.

Let's try to stay on message, shall we? ;-)

But, seriously, what do you think?

Monday, March 27


The email to my pool, reposted here:

yep, we're done. that was fast. crazy year, but still fun.
congrats to Macon for the best guessing, i mean picks ;-) Robbi came in second and Kathy was third. congrats, y'all.
i want to personally thank Jan and Chris for their picks so there would be two people who did worse than me :-( ;-) in fact, no Meades broke the top 9. a poor showing, that.
responses to all posts to this forum: 

Cory: remember when you criticized the 'experts' for not seeing Iowa go very far? ;-)

Kyle: weird year is right

Kurt: nothing breeds loathing (and fandom) like unbridled success, of which UCLA has had more than their share...

my 2 cents:
Of the Final Four, only UCLA won their conference tournament. Same for the Elite Eight. Move back to the Sweet Sixteen and you can add Memphis and Gonzaga.

My point: Conference Tournaments wear teams out. The great competition in the Big Ten, Big Twelve, Big East, ACC, and SEC wears down great teams, especially mentally and emotionally. If they can make it through the rounds of 64 and 32 they might be able to regroup.

still rationalizing my Iowa disappointment...

who's pulling for anybody now except GMU? (except, that is, for Robbi, who's loyal to the SEC). it's hard not to like that young, enthusiastic, athletic, long (channeling Jay Bilas) LSU team. thankfully, my in-laws lived in Louisiana for enough years to inoculate me ;-)

Sunday, March 26

Dowding and Churchill and The Battle of Britain

I just finished reading A Summer Bright and Terrible by David Fisher (sent to me by wonderful Paul Stokes). It tells the story of the Battle of Britain mostly from the point of view of Hugh Dowding, Air Marshall in command of the RAF Fighter Wing.

If Fisher is close to the truth, then Dowding was absolutely instrumental in winning the Battle of Britain. He held out hope that bombers could be combated (the conventional wisdom was that they were irresistible and the only hope was a kind of Mutually Assured Destruction with bombers) and poured his R&D and procurement dollars theretoward. The RAF came up with Spitfires, Hurricanes, and radar with which they held off the Germans in the summer of 1940.

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.

Dowding continually pressed for an adequate number of fighters. The RAF concluded that they needed about 50 fighter wings to defend Britain. Dowding held them to that number. When Churchill tried to send fighters to the aid of France, Dowding fought him for every last one and finally argued him to a stop.

We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour."

Further, Dowding's strategy against the Luftwaffe was critical. He understood that Hitler could not invade without first destroying the RAF. Göring expected a stand-up fight, full force against full force, and Dowding never gave him one. Dowding understood that all he had to do was make it to autumn when the Channel would become impassable. He didn't have to win the air war with Göring. He just had to outlast the Luftwaffe and not lose.

At one point Göring started attacking the RAF air bases and was within a few days of finally defeating the fighters. But then, inexplicably, the Luftwaffe bombed London instead, and the British bombed Berlin, and Hitler went berserk, and Göring retaliated against London, and the air bases had time to recover.

Again, if Fisher is telling the basic truth, and I assume he is, there were so many ways the Battle of Britain could have gone wrong, and what a different war it would have been if it had. For one thing, the British Expeditionary Force, the bulk of their army, had evacuated safely from Dunkirk but left all of their material behind. Had the Wehrmacht shown up on the islands that summer, the army would have had basically nothing to fight them with, and they knew it.

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

The end of Dowding's career came during the subsequent Blitz. The British (indeed, the Western World), had no military technology to counter bombers at night. Dowding's command was working on airborne, fighter-carried radar, but it wasn't ready yet. He told Churchill that he had no solution to the Blitz and, to Churchill, that was the wrong answer. Old enemies inside the RAF conspired to sack him, and Churchill let it happen.

A major part of the perspective of this book is that Churchill was extremely talented... and a big, fat, egotistical jerk. Churchill was stubborn. He gave Hitler no quarter. He wouldn't dream of an armistice. But he interfered unforgivably with his commanders and glorified himself in his story (his-story) of the war.

Something I learned about Chamberlain was that he's been a little too vilified, and I myself thought of him as an appeaser. Had he stood up to Hitler over Czechoslovakia, the British had nothing to fight him with then, either. When Hitler's direction became clear at about that time, the British war machine cranked up and eventually cranked out just enough material to hold off Germany until the Great Factory's (the US) entrance into the war.

Churchill was undoubtedly a great man to whom civilization owes much. For one thing, he was an amazing thinker of the spoken word. His quotes frame this very post, much of which is critical of him. I couldn't have posted about the Battle of Britain without quoting him. I particularly have him in mind as Tom speaks at UT's Baker Center conference: Churchill and the Special Relationship next week. In learning about his greatness, I also note his flaws.

Drivin and readin (and (sky(scrapin))

How's that for a tortured subject? ;-) Pays homage to one of the great band names: Drivin and cryin. Never heard one of their songs.

+ Because I always have road rage bubbling just below the surface of my apparently calm (dashing, intelligent, etc.) exterior, I have to link this study that Paul quotes:

Motorists 85 and older now surpass 16 year olds in frequency of fatalities per mile driven, and nearly match teenagers in rates of insurance claims for property damage, according to statistics from the insurance industry and the federal government. Drivers 65 and older are more likely than teens to have fatal multivehicle crashes at intersections, the data show.

I've long been on the record saying I predict we'll see laws restricting teen driving soon, especially as Boomers age and don't want to pay for/drive with those problems. And I think more legal restrictions on teen drivers would probably be a good idea.

I think the same about aging drivers. But I wonder if Boomers will vote to regulate themselves in this vein...

+ Jaq has a nice post about Tolkien Reading Day . Read it!

+ Just for fun: The top 15 skylines in the world. Pittsburgh gets an honorable mention. What a great town.

Friday, March 24

Protest this!

+ Sociologists Name 'Essential' Protest Songs. I might as well quote the whole thing:
The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Those professional bleeding hearts over at the American Sociological Association have helpfully put together a list of the "essential" protest songs of the past five decades and published it in the latest issue of the journal Contexts.

Fourteen tunes made the cut, including such standards as "We Shall Overcome," Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" and the 1930s union anthem "Which Side Are You On?"

Other notable selections:

— "Fight the Power" by Public Enemy. "An exuberant hip-hop call to arms," the editors declared of this 1989 mega-hit.

— "Respect" by Otis Redding and performed by Aretha Franklin, a song that proves "the personal is political."

— "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)" by James Brown. The Godfather of Soul also had a way with black-power anthems.

— "I Ain't Marching Anymore" by Phil Ochs. "An antiwar classic, complete with a revisionist history of American militarism," the editors wrote.

— "Strange Fruit" by Abel Meeropol and performed by Billie Holiday. "Chilling protest against lynching. Maybe the greatest protest song of all time." (Meeropol, a New York City schoolteacher, later adopted the children of executed spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.)

— "Lift Every Voice and Sing" lyrics by James Weldon Johnson; music by J. Rosamond Johnson. These accomplished brothers wrote what is "known as the 'Black National Anthem' — the antidote to 'America, the Beautiful.'"

My thoughts:

+ I'd probably buy the CD or iTunes playlist, if they put one out.
+ One little quibble: "America the Beautiful' doesn't need an antidote. You might think 'The Star-Spangled Banner' needs an antidote (you know, 'martial glory' and all that). At any rate, 'Lift Every Voice...' is a nice song.

NCAA Sweet 16 first day update

+ The Gamecocks won again and are headed to the NIT semifinals. Good for them!

+ All the higher seeds won last night, except for the Duke upset. I think Duke just ran out of gas, especially with JJ Redick going stone cold. LSU played well, credit to them. They especially guarded JJ Redick well, which Temple did earlier and you start to wonder why more teams didn't do it this year.

Jay Bilas was intolerable in his color commentary and must have said LSU was 'long and athletic, or variations thereon, 20 times in the broadcast.

+ SI had a good article (whole story for subscribers only) on the success of the 'midmajors'. They mentioned the point I did monday, that midmajors usually keep their players 4 years. Something they added that I hadn't factored in was the reduction in scholarships that the NCAA made recently. Since all programs have fewer scholarships available, when elite programs lose their McDonalds All-Americans to the NBA, they have 2 fewer scholarship players to fall back on. Makes it harder to re-load.

Plus, Wahl (the author) hammered Nantz and Packer some more for their outrage during the selection show at so many midmajors making it, quoting or recapping much of what they said. I love it.

+ Why do I pound the talking heads so much? Do I think I could do a better job? Am I a frustrated football/basketball announcer? Listening to myself, it sounds like I have some issues here, don't you think?

Thursday, March 23

I agree with Tony Blair (but one major criticism)

Tom really liked Tony Blair's recent speech Why we fight on.

I liked the first part. I agree with his reasons for engagement and even interventionism as opposed to protectionism or quietism. I especially like how he acknowledges mistakes (of course).

However, as a former professional religious person, I can't let his comments about Islam (about half-way down) go by unremarked.

You can only interpret the Koran and fundamentalist Islam this way if you are postmodern and try really hard. There are two things at stake here. One is just plain reading and interpretation, faithful exegesis, regardless of your worldview. The second is an accurate understanding of religion.

Only in this age of Reader Response Theory and Deconstructionism could you make statements like this about historical Islam and the Koran. I see people on both sides of the Atlantic doing this, including President Bush. Historical Islam embraces jihad. The Koran says kill your enemies.

Are there more 'modern', 'liberal' Muslims? Yes. And they might be on board with what Blair's saying. But it's not 'orthodox'. What are the percentages of liberal versus fundamentalist? I have no idea. I'd guess there are more of the fundamentalists.

Saying that liberal Islam is the true Islam is ridiculous. It's only true if you have to see the world through a postmodern, let's-not-let-that-whole-Truth-thing-come-between-us paradigm.

I'm not saying fundamentalist Islam is the true Islam. It does have history on its side. But the whole discussion is more complicated than that. Oversimplifying it can only hamstring our understanding of the dynamics involved. Deploying is for rhetorical effect 'promotes' misunderstanding. Actually believing it is worse...

All of that said, I still agree with Blair's conclusion.

The extremism is not the true voice of Islam. Neither is that voice necessarily to be found in those who are from one part only of Islamic thought, however assertively that voice makes itself heard. It is, as ever, to be found in the calm, but too often unheard beliefs of the many Muslims, millions of them the world over, including in Europe, who want what we all want: to be ourselves free and for others to be free also; who regard tolerance as a virtue and respect for the faith of others as part of our own faith. That is what this battle is about, within Islam and outside of it; it is a battle of values and progress; and therefore it is one we must win.

Wednesday, March 22

From Google to Gamecocks to Globalization (and a few things in between...)

+ Good news and bad news: The good news is, Google has a new Finance product . The bad news is, I don't have much use for it ;-)

+ Sherman, set the Wayback Machine.

+ The Incredibles creator Brad Bird is taking on a restaurant-dwelling rat for his next project. He will once again be working for Pixar on the animated film Ratatouille, about a mouse who lives in Paris (via colaspot).

+ The Gamecocks won again last night as they attempt to defend their NIT title. Hey, at least they're still in the hunt for something! (Although, Big Ten Tournament Champions is nothing to sneeze at.)

+ Alford says he's staying at Iowa. (Good, especially since the UNI coach got away...) Still, they're going to really have to reload next year, losing a lot of senior talent. Wonder if any of these guys have pro-type game. Do you know, Jas?

+ The answer to globalization job loss:

So the WSJ story details the rather ambitious and comprehensive way that the Danish government guarantees job retraining for workers who suffer the dislocation of globalization. That allows Denmark to allow "liberal hiring and firing as in the U.S.," even as it imposes firm limits on the duration of jobless benefits. It calls this aggressive approach "flexicurity": you're expected to seek out government help to get retrained and then get your ass back to work. During your downtime, the government will pay upwards to 90 percent of your former salary.  

The result? "Even though Danes are among the most easily laid-off workers in Europe, polls show the country's workers are the most secure about their future. The European Commission now holds up Denmark as a model for other countries to try to follow."

Monday, March 20

NCAA tournament, rounds 1 and 2: aftermath

Could you tell the Iowa loss seriously took the wind out of my sails? That and my 'pick who I want to win' strategy has me at the bottom of my pool. :-(

Jim Nantz (!) brought up a good point yesterday: three major conference tournament champions were already gone by that point: the Big Ten (Iowa), the Big Twelve (Kansas), and the Big East (I forget). Think those championships wear them down at all?

My read on the Haweyes was they just didn't have it left in them - mostly mentally/emotionally - to hold off another run. Their defense and free throw shooting down the stretch weren't as good as they have been and they lost at the last second. I mistook their run in the conference tournament for a sign of good things to come. Very few teams can make that kind of run (cf Duke). In Iowa's case, they gave everything they had in Indianapolis the first time and won't be heading back. I'm glad I got to watch those two Big Ten Tournament games though. That part was great.

So, do I think the power conferences shoot themselves in the foot a little, battling it our all season long? Yes. So I'd say don't be too quick to say the Big Ten wasn't that good just because they don't have any teams left. Maybe some of it is because they were that good.

Do I begrudge the 'Mid-Majors' their place? Heck no. It's fun. Bradley, Wichita State, George Mason: welcome to the Dance.

Here's a good article mainly about how Packer/Nantz were wrong on the selection show.

The biggest leveling of the field for the power schools is coming from the McDonalds All-Americans leaving for the NBA early.

It all makes for a more exciting March to the Championship.

Biggest news in Iowa basketball now is: Will Steve Alford go to Indiana? Let the speculation begin. My take: wouldn't be the end of the world.

Saturday, March 18

MBL steroid use

It's way past time to turn my 'wicked keyboard' to the latest developments in MBL steroid use. Most of my latest thoughts come from reading the excerpt of the Bonds expose that Sports Illustrated published recently.

Barry Bonds is totally guilty of steroids, misrepresentation, and perjury. He should be banned from baseball, the Hall, and the record books.

McGwire, Sosa, and Palmeiro are guilty and should be similarly banned. Not sure about Schilling (the other Congressional testifier).

The Giants' owner is guilty of not looking close enough or looking the other way. The other owners are guilty, too.

Dusty Baker was Bonds' coach and is now the coach of my team: the Cubs. He's guilty of not looking close enough or looking the other way.

Bud Selig is most certainly guilty of not looking close enough or looking the other way.

We all strongly suspected, at least, that this stuff was going on. It's proven now and it's a disgrace to baseball.

I say no records, no Hall for steroid-using players.

Top 10s

Christine brought home a book from the library of top 10 lists. As I looked through it, one of the things I started looking for was lists where the #1 item was as much as the next 9 combined, especially when the #1 place was the US.

For example, one of the most well known cases of this is national defense budgets. The US defense budget, in 1st place, is greater than the next 9 combined.

Some other instances of 1 = 2-9:
  • countries with the most airports
  • money spent on advertising
  • # of astronauts (through USSR/Russia has/had astronauts with more experience)
  • accidental deaths: by motor vehicles = about the next 9 places
  • the Bible is the top-selling book of all time, way more than the next 9 places
  • the USSR had far more military losses in WW2 than any other country; China had the most civilian losses (at the hands of the brutal Japanese)
One last thought from my reading of this book: Did you know that the US is the 3rd most populated nation in the world and still will be in 2050?

Friday, March 17

Leprechaun traps!

Bethy and Wil have been working on leprechaun traps for school. We were surprised today to learn that Wil's made The State newspaper today! Here's the link to the story:

Tricky traps for leprechauns
Leaphart students need a little Irish luck to snare the elusive creatures

Here's the pic of Wil's trap (with caption):

Will [sic] Meade’s creation is engineered to catch a leprechaun when he goes for the coin on the yellow paddle. The paddle turns, and the leprechaun falls into the box.

We're proud of Wil and happy for him. Bethy gets recognized a lot at school, so this is fun for Wil. Plus, this kind of creativity is something he cares about, so it's good reinforcement.

A brief break from basketball to say a few things I've been meaning to say...

+ Here's one I wrote on March 10th that languished in my Draft folder:

It's not everyday that I agree with my President, but I do today: Ports Deal Collapse May Hurt U.S. Rats. Wish we hadn't caved on that one.

+ I learned the other day that Bruegger's did not originate in Iowa City, which made me a little sad. It started in Vermont in 1983. Iowa City was one of the first franchises. I ate there as early as 1987. Oh well...

+ I came across some extensive Alan Moore interviews on the eve of the release of V for Vendetta. As much as I like that story, when I re-read it lately, it seemed a little too ambitious. It's obvious Moore was trying to talk about Big Things. Good. The execution just didn't quite work for me in 2006. Don't get me wrong: there are still some great parts.

A for Alan, part 1
A for Alan, part 2

Anyway, back to the interviews: Reading them puts me in mind of something I've been thinking about for awhile. I assume, and could be totally wrong, that most comic book writers, like Alan Moore and Frank Miller, for instance, are pretty liberal (I'm painting with broad strokes here, if you'll indulge me). And yet, most comic books, especially the edgy ones, are pretty violent. How does that fit in with liberalism? Is there some other worldview at work here?

Third point in the section: Alan Moore is waaaaaaaay out there: practicing pagan (worshipping some Egyptian snake god), anarchist. He sure has made a lot of money off of the people who believe stuff he abhors. They basically fund his wackiness. Doubt there'd be many comic books in an anarcho-pagan society ;-)

+ Forgot to check in on how the Wartburg Wrestling team did at the National Championships on March 4th. Remembered this morning. They won it. What a program!

+ Read a fun, article-length treatment of the making of Tron this morning. That movie came out in 1982 when I was 10. I loved it. I still like it. Might need to add the DVD to my wishlist. Any other Tron fans out there?

+ That is all (for now).

Thursday, March 16

My Tournament pool picking strategy

A reminder for you long-time readers. New info for the newbies.

1. I pick who I want to win (within reason).
2. I pick the upset (within reason)
3. I pick the seeds.

So if I start crowing about my picks, remember, there's not much skill to it.

Case in point: My friend, Marshall, is a UNC-CH grad and die-hard fan. But he doesn't see the Tar Heels going very deep this year. I don't care. I like UNC. I like Roy Williams. I don't want to pick UConn over them. So I won't.

See how it works? ;-)

The Tournament starts today!

+ Bulletin board material: That's right, Hawks. People are disrespecting you. Get that mad simmering for tomorrow's game! (Which I'll be watching at some sports bar around here. I went ahead and asked for a half day off. How's that for commitment?!)

+ In local basketball news, USC beat the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers last night here at home.

I wonder if USC is embarassed at all that Winthrop made the tournament and they did not. On the other hand, USC probably played a tougher schedule (disclosure: I haven't researched it).

+ That brings up another tournament point: Those doofuses Packer/Nantz grilled the selection Chairman (AD: UVA) on how they could let so many Mid-Majors in. Maybe some producer told them to stir up controversy, because when they got back to the studio, Clark and Seth liked it fine.

It's a moot point (ie, you could argue it forever): Do you want your tournament with the absolute toughest 64 teams in the nation? If so, how are you going to objectively pick them?

Or do you want your tournament with some potential Cinderellas (the direction that even allows for the Play-In game, in my mind)? This question has already been answered de facto with automatic bids, the play-in, etc. You might see it move a little either way, but I'm pretty sure that's the trend.

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 15

A little more (and final) research on the Revolutionary War

Keying off of the Wikipedia entry (of course).

Do you remember/realize that the war lasted from April 18th, 1775 to October 19th, 1791? That's about six and a half years!

No military history is complete for me without maps. West Point has some fine ones.

The phrase The Shot Heard 'Round The World comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson 's Concord Hymn . Of course, if you're like me, you know it from the Schoolhouse Rock song [lyrics].

Re: the song: It's hard to cover 6 and a half years in a 3-minute song. They go from crossing the Delaware (December 25th, 1776) to Valley Forge (winter 76-77) in one line! ;-)

In June 1776, when General Henry Clinton sailed south to attack Charleston, South Carolina . This ended in humiliating defeat for the British, and the Patriots remained in control of the southern states for the next three years.

Saratoga is often regarded as the turning point of the war. Revolutionary confidence and determination, suffering from Howe's successful occupation of Philadelphia, was renewed. Even more importantly, the victory encouraged France to enter the war against Great Britain. Spain and the Netherlands soon did the same. For the British, the war had now become much more complicated.

Baron von Steuben was essential to the improvement of the Continental Army, especially in sanitation discipline.

Do you know/remember that the British took and occupied Philadelphia?

On May 12, 1780, General Lincoln surrendered his 5,000 men—the largest surrender of U.S. troops until the American Civil War. With relatively few casualties, Clinton had seized the South's biggest city and seaport, winning perhaps the greatest British victory of the war, and paving the way for what seemed like certain conquest of the South.

We still remember Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox, in these parts.

One wing of [Cornwallis'] army was utterly defeated at the Battle of Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780, delaying his move into North Carolina. Kings Mountain was noteworthy because it was not a battle between British redcoats and colonial troops: it was a battle between American Loyalist militia and American Patriot militia.

Yes, I have been to this battlefield.

General Nathanael Greene. Greene assigned about 1,000 men to General Daniel Morgan , a superb tactician who crushed Tarleton's troops at the Battle of Cowpens on January 17, 1781. Greene proceeded to wear down his opponents in a series of battles ( Guilford Court House, Hobkirk's Hill, Ninety Six , and Eutaw Springs), each of them tactically a victory for the British, but giving no strategic advantage to the victors. Greene summed up his approach in a motto that would become famous: "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again."

I have also been to the Guilford Court House battlefield in Greensboro (Yo, Marsh!)

John Paul Jones was somewhat effective in the naval sphere. Like Marion and Washington, he couldn't hope to defeat the British in a stand up fight, so he employed guerrilla-like naval tactics against British shipping, logistics, etc. (The main article here refers to Washington's tactics as Fabian strategy.)

An interesting footnote to this war was the actual landing on Britain itself of a ship from the U.S. Navy. This occurred in 1778 when the port of Whitehaven in Cumberland was raided by John Paul Jones. The landing was a surprise attack, taken as an action of revenge by Jones, and was never intended as an invasion. Nevertheless, it caused hysteria in England, with the attack showing a weakness that could be exploited by other states such as France or Spain.

Jones was later able to capture the HMS Drake, which also proved the British Navy not invulnerable.

These local sites make me think I need to do a little visiting hereabouts...

Benedict Arnold was a brave commander turned traitor. (Remember the Brady Bunch episode where Peter plays him? ;-)

It's interesting that when I read Horatio Hornblower and Richard Sharpe, I pull against the French. But when I read about the American Revolution, the French don't seem so bad... ;-)

More Continental troops died from disease and non-combat causes (about 18,500) than died or were wounded (about 15,500).

And that, my friends, is all for this research project (unless I visit some of these SC sites in person...). You are welcome for the service ;-)

Web 2.0 and the NFL

+ File this one under 'cool (but useless)': You can download highlights or whole games of the NCAA tournament on iTunes the next day. The only people I can think of who would use this are 1. psychofans (beyond the limits of reason) and 2. iPod hipsters who need more video for their iPod and have money burning a hole in their pocket. Am I missing something?

+ Daunte's gone to Miami. That's where Gus Frerotte went to start after backing up Daunte. Poor Gus. Hard to believe Daunte's only good for a 2nd round draft pick. Oh well. Time to reload with Brad Johnson for now and finding a quarterback to develop for the future.

In addition, Drew Brees goes from the Chargers to the Saints. (Incidentally, with this signing and a lucky 2nd round draft pick, or leverage of that pick into multiple early choices, the Saints could get a lot better in a hurry.) Brees is a great, proven quarterback. Hope the Chargers know what they're doing, letting him go and keeping Rivers. Of course, they paid Rivers the big bucks and he's sitting, so this is mostly an economic deal for them.

As much as I like the NFL, the tango between demanding players and demanding ownership is a little bit nauseating. As I've said before, in professional sports the players are 'keeping score' with contracts. They don't need more money. It's about pride. Any organization that could bring in lower-maintenace players and keep them reasonably happy in exchange for a competitive team with money to spread around to all of the positions (especially O-line!) could go far. As far as I can tell, the Patriots most resemble this approach, which is one of the reasons I'm on their band wagon.

+ Google Desktop is out of beta today with a new killer feature: the double ctrl quick search box. I really like GD and it's quick search, but have not liked turning over taskbar or desktop real estate to it. This is a good solution for me and I look forward to trying it out. Now if only it would index my Gmail right...

As I surf over there, I see, if you want, you can 'undock' panels to reside on your desktop, basically like widgets/Konfabulator. I'll have to try this out, too.

There's also a double shift show panels command.

With the recent acquisition of Writely and what is obviously concentrated development on Desktop, Google is making a clear play for more of your computer. I gave them my allegiance long ago. In the feudalistic world of today's desktop, you have to choose your master (unless you have the technical chops/patience for Linux). I choose Google.

Tuesday, March 14

Go Hawks!

As I've written before, we've got the old-school, free version of Hero Machine on our computer. So far, Wil, Elizabeth, and their friends on occasion, have created about 35 different super heroes. Unprompted by me, Wil came up with this Hawkeye uniform on Sunday.

(The black and gold looked much better/truer in Hero Machine. Maybe it was the translation to PNG. Go figure.)

I am very proud. The proud father brags: Bet your boys aren't such ardent Hawkeye fans, Jason and Eric! ;-)

2nd and final report on '1776'

Whoa. Short book. All of those end notes threw me off. Of course, I guess it was only 1 year ;-)

A few observations on things that interested me:

+British society was very corrupt and 'dissolute' at this time. Some people say the same thing about the US today. That was, in fact, one reason often cited for independence.

+ This is a little bit of a tangent, but the US today is not an 'empire' like Britain was, nor do we have 'colonies' like they did. As Tom often says, 'empire' is about enforcing maximal rule-sets. We encourage and promote minimal rule-sets and enforce hardly any. Sure, if you want to be in the WTO, you have to open up some of your banks, but that's not 'empire'.

Some people want to say that our military are 'imperial grunts'. That's only true if you call 'making the world safe for capitalism/globalization' 'empire'.

+ Military men generally believed that New York (City) could not be held without naval superiority, which the colonists most certainly did not have. But they still tried to hold it and got creamed. The Birtish took Long Island, then Brooklyn, then New York (Manhattan) island, then Fort Washington, the Fort Lee. Not smart.

+ The British and Hessians could not believe the prosperity of the Colonies, even after places like Long Island had been partially destroyed by the retreating colonists. 'Americans in 1776 enjoyed a higher standard of living than any people in the world.' The abundance of America made the British soldiers who saw it feel even more that the rebellion against God's appointed King was even more unjustified.

+The British, and especially the Hessians, earned a lot of ill will by pillaging and raping.

+ A very important American retreat took place on my birthday! We all know Washington crossed the Delaware on Christmas, 1776. 'Surprised the Hessians in their lair' (to quote Schoolhouse Rock ;-). Washington crossed back to Pennsylvania, then crossed back to Trenton to hold against Cornwallis. January 2nd, 1777 is called the Second Battle of Trenton, though, as I said, it was more of a calculated retreat. The Continental Army held Trenton until nightfall, then retreated south under cover of darkness.

The Americans left a token force to build fortifications as though they were planning to defend at the creek, and to disguise the sound of their march. British forces perceived the movement, but Cornwallis believed this to be Americans planning a night attack, and thus ordered British troops into defensive positions, allowing Americans to succesfully march their army around Cornwallis and start the Battle of Princeton.

Since the Battle of Princeton was on January 3rd, you know that was the future birthday of Professor Tolkien, right? ;-)

The army quick-marched east and then north to Princeton, literally wearing rags and often without shoes. They beat Cornwallis' rear-guard there, many of whom were on the way west to Trenton to join Cornwallis. By the time Cornwallis got there the Continental Army had retreated north to Somerset. The First and Second Battles of Trenton and the Battle of Princeton were mostly important victories for the morale of the army and the country.

Sunday, March 12

Hawks win!

Wow. They were down most of the game, again. Then they were only up by a little. But they didn't flinch. They didn't panic. They kept playing. Horner finally found some shots that would go down. Everyone contributed. And they outlasted Ohio State. If they can keep playing like this, they could go a ways in the tournament.

By the way, speaking of the tournament, I've got a pool of people going. If you'd like an invitation, we'd love to have you. Comment here or drop me an email.

More basketball

I don't think I'm going to live-log the Iowa game. USC lost a few minutes ago, but played pretty well. Had to run out in the middle for milk, carrots and to wash the van so I'd be done before the Iowa tip off. That to say I didn't get to watch much of the Carolina game.

I may or may not come back to this. We'll see

Saturday, March 11

Logging the conference tournaments - LIVE!

Procedural note: The computer and TV aren't in the same room. I'm running back and forth (to the computer during commercials). Now that's dedication!

  • They did it (stinky broadcasting notwithstanding). Go Hawks! And I'm outta' here...
  • Lookin' pretty sweet under one minute. Clutch. Hitting almost all of our free throws down the stretch. I posted about this earlier in the yer: If you can play amazing D and hit your free throws, you'll win a lot of games.
  • MSU incredibly low score for season. Highest scoring team in the Big 10. Literally NO mention by Packer/Nantz of good Iowa D. Just 'tired legs'. Packer sux!
  • Clutch play by Brunner: Got the rebound. Nailed the free throws.
  • Up 4 points with under 4 minutes. Kuh-yikes! (I just throw the 'kuh's in there these days).
  • Greg's getting tired. Follow your shots, Greg!
  • But then he did a great job drawing the charge.
  • Iowa does plod, don't they. That's a pretty low score.
  • Davis is in foul trouble. Take it to him!
  • Down to 7+ minutes. I'm running out of things to say right now. Hoping Iowa can hold on.
  • I've got plenty of things to say v. Packer, but it doesn't seem worth it. Worst part of an Iowa win? Listening to Nantz/Packer call the game tomorrow :-( But I'll take it!
  • Go Cocks! They did it! Guess I'll be watching them in the SEC final tomorrow. Wonder if they've played themselves into the Big Dance yet...
  • Iowa just got their 1st lead. Let's see what they can do with it...
  • The Cocks are doing well. Up 59-55 with less than 4 minute to play. As long as those 3-pointers keep falling, they're looking pretty good.
  • The commentary team for this game is pretty good. I don't mind them.
  • Packer said something right again! 'Iowa is quicker.' Yeah, they can play total shut-down D, then run the floor on the fast break. Beautiful.
  • Half time in the Iowa game. Hawks are down by 3. Not bad, considering how cold they started. Let's see them amp it up next half.
  • USC's down a few points to Kentucky now. Better go watch a little of that game...

  • MSU came back with 5 points, but then Brunner got 2.
  • Packer said something right! Brunner does have great hands. He's the leading rebounder in Iowa history.
  • Iowa's coming back. Tied it up with 11 unanswered points.
  • Dumb Billy Packer just wants to talk about bad offense. These are two really good defensive teams. Iowa's one of the best in the nation right now.
  • Carolina made it to the half ahead of Kentucky 30-27. Pretty good work.
  • My first chance to watch Iowa on National Broadcast TV and they're totally stinking with no offense. They can have a suffocating defense, though, and Horner can catch fire anytime, so we'll see.
  • Worst thing about this: the game's being called by Nantz/Packer. My least favorite combo this time of year. I'd rather have Moe/Larry/Curly. Oh well.

March Madness is finally here

Both of the teams I follow most closely won yesterday. The Hawks were certainly supposed to and face a tough matchup with Michigan State. But the Gamecocks upset the 14th ranked Volunteers and they'll have to play just as well today to beat Kentucky (and we can all get on board rooting for that victory, right? ;-). USC is on at 1 today and the Hawks are on at 1:40, both on local boradcast tv (we don't have cable). I see some basketball-watching in my near future...

Friday, March 10


Dateline: Columbia, SC

The family of Sean Meade is in mourning today after he spontaneously combusted with insane jealousy...

Memorial: Dorchester Heights

Missed this anniversary by only a few days. The Continental Army took Dorchester Heights on March 4th, 1776. It was such a commanding position that the British Army had to move. A storm prevented them from attacking (which is actually what Washington wanted), and they had to leave Boston.

I'm reading '1776' by David McCullough right now, and I found this part of the story absolutely thrilling: bringing all of that artillery hundreds of miles from Fort Ticonderoga, keeping the plan a secret, pre-building artifical 'embankments' and hauling them into place. Cool story!

If you're lucky, you'll get more reports like this as I read through the book ;-)

UPDATE: Can't believe y'all let me spell McCullough wrong! But don't worry, I fixed it. Hello? Is this thing on?

My web 2.0 (again)

+ Guide that (probably) nobody who reads this weblog cares about except me: Low-tech filter for reading subscriptions:
  1. Lifehacker
  2. kottke
  3. THEN, read
Otherwise, you're just duplicating your reading from secondary sources because so many of the posts/links from the first 2 end up on #3. Besides, the Lifehacker feed has summaries (unlike I used to want actual Lifehacker and kottke filters for, but the low-tech approach works just as well...

One small problem: links are starting to appear back in Lifehacker. But it's a small problem. If I catch it, I save the one in Lifehacker (like I said, it has summaries), and unselect the ones in

Then periodically I just copy the posts I have saved in Bloglines, email them to myself in Gmail, and unselect them. Then they're searchable in Gmail anywhere I am.

Aren't you glad to know how I'm navigating the 2.0 web? ;-)

+ Did you see that Google bought Writely (continuing to put the fear into Micro$oft)? Plus, that's another application that's totally web-native that you can access from anywhere. With Gmail, and Google Desktop searchable across computers, and Writely the trend is certainly toward the GDrive that we're hearing rumors about. I've said it before, I'll say it again: I welcome our Google overlords. If you don't want them to have access to that much of your data, don't give it to them. I want GDrive. Mostly, I want to be able to upload simple sound files with permalinks that use up part of my Gmail memory. Is that so much to ask? ;-)

By the way, there's a wait list for Writely right now. 'Believe me when I say to you' (a little Sting quote there) I signed up right away...

Thursday, March 9

John and Brad, Daunte and Brad, and Stuff on my Cat

+ John (Laputan Logic) Hardy has a funny mashup of Einstein and John's own site .

+ I'm sure this means I am VERY strange, but I think is pretty funny.

+ So, it's come to this: Daunte wants out of Minnesota. I think they've been a little cool with him because of the charter scandal and his injury. Guess he'll end up elsewhere. That's too bad. I wish him well.

I like Brad Johnson, but I know he's not the quarterback of the future, Super Bowl ring or not. Heck, he might not be the quarterback of this whole year...

+ The main thing on the NFL labor agreement is that they got a deal done. They're insanely popular and insanely wealthy. It would be completely stupid to not find an agreement they could all live with to keep the NFL rolling.

+ I'm glad Brad posted on this. I've been meaning to also. Prosper is a new peer-to-peer lending service. Think something like this could really work? It's interesting...

Yes, it is nice to be brilliant

I have never liked that oh-so-popular 'If you give a pig a pancake' book. Then it came home as Wil's reading assignment for this week. I'm supposed to listen to it every night? Couldn't face it.

So last night I hit on an ingenious scheme: I bribed them.

We have this thing Christine started called 'The Goblet of Choice' (she got it from some magazine or website or something). You can earn points throughout the week for good behavior. You can also lose points. The Goblet of Choice is awarded (sometimes) on thursday night. The winner gets to pick friday night dinner, dessert, and family activity.

So I asked them after supper last night (and Christine at work), if they'd like to earn a point each. They said yes. 'Wil can earn a point by reading to Bethy while I take a shower and Bethy can earn a point by listening and helping Wil.' They said they'd do it, no problem.

As far as I know, they did. I do know they each marked down another point.

Tuesday, March 7

Special Un-Oscar edition

I had almost no interest in watching the Oscars. I haven't seen any of those movies. My movie-watching has fallen off precipitously. My biggest interest, by far, was John Stewart hosting, and I only read about that. I certainly did not watch the Oscars. I almost don't care at all about the 'celebrities' and their 'fashions'.

+ Jaq (Byzantium's Shores) uandor has a post on the Oscars that I almost totally agree with (excepting the Star Wars stuff).
  • I kind of like George Clooney (though everybody I agree with on international politics thought 'Syriana' was tripe).
  • If movies are losing their theater-going customers, it's because of the crappy movies and the prices. Only really stupid people, like the RIAA and the MPAA blame their customers when their own monopolistic marketing of mularkey results in less money! (This rant has been brought to you by the letter 'M' ;-)
+ Matthew (defective yeti) Baldwin has a funny piece quoting critical pans of Oscar winners.

Friday, March 3

Disney, Cemex and Gmail

+ Some elderly Americans are foregoing retirement homes in favor of living permanently on cruise ships . I've had this in my inbox for a while to forward to Christine, but I think I'll post it instead. I wonder if this is the kind of thing she might like to do someday... If they have the elder-hostel-live-at-Disney-World-and-on-the-cruise-line package I'm sure she'll do it. In which case, I'll visit her, but I hope virtuality is good by then, because I'll be living in Iowa (maybe with Wil) ;-)

+ Whoa. Saw a Cemex truck go by out the window. That's Cement Mexico (Anglicized) for those of you not in the know. They used to be in the Wired 50 for having GPS in their trucks and deploying them while they were on the road instead of from the factory. Didn't know they were on the loose here in the States, least of all South Carolina.

+ Gmail update: some of you are wondering 'Why in the fool do I have all of this piddly little email from Sean?' Stuff I've been meaning to get to. And now I have my Gmail box down to 46 messages. Yay me!

On the down side, I stopped scanning and emptying my spam folder February 19th and now I'm up to 1019 messages therein. 'asktom-at-thomaspmbarnett-dot-com', on which I get copied, get's A LOT of spam. :-( I wish there was a setting on Gmail to either immediately delete spam or just not show how many are in there. (There is a Greasemonkey script for that, I think, but I don't want to fool with it.)

Wednesday, March 1

BIG media post (with most important stuff at bottom)

+ As much as I'm not into the NBA, I used to like to watch the All-Star game, just to see some of the talent. Can't do that since it moved to TNT (no cable). So I was interested to watch highlights from the dunk contest on YouTube (I think it was also on Google Video).

Some of the dunks were cool. The Spud Webb angle was interesting. The undifferentiated 'commentary' was painful.

But the best thing about the experience was tv breaking out of the box. Remixes. Playlists.

Of course, I'm mostly talking about concept, here, since I watch almost no TV (except for the NFL). And that's not a statement of virtue. I waste all kinds of time online and playing computer games and GameCube. I just don't have the patience for broadcast tv anymore nor, lately, even for movies.

[Note to Jason: being a dunker yourself, I'd especially be interested in your take ;-)]

+ Microsoft Works on Computer Foot Pad. I would welcome this input option to put my feet to use, even from Micr$oft.

+ New Apple moves. On the one hand, I'd rather have the Mac Mini than a Media PC in my living room as a media hub. I wouldn't really miss the tuner and PVR and it plugs right into my TV, not needing a separate monitor.

On the other hand, then I'd have to sell out to iTunes and Apple DRM instead of M$, which I don't want to do, either.

This probably isn't in my near future anyway, but I've got an eye on it. I'd say there's a good chance I'll end up going with a Linux solution on an older PC. Heck, just running everything though a wireless network is an option. But right now, it's pretty cheep to pop a 150-song mp3cd into the DVD player and let it run for, what, 10 hours? Of course, the number of times I've actually been able to do that, which pretty much requires Christine and the kids to be out of town, is exactly one. Still, there was something pretty sweet about just letting that bad boy run in the living room while I computed (and mostly gamed) in the office.

+ This is probably too far down to bury this, but, what the heck: This post has been percolating for a while:

I went the poor/frugal man's route and bought a new mp3cd player instead of an iPod. In my research I came across an article that recommended that path and I just couldn't 'overcome' that advice. I got about the best mp3cd player at Best Buy that I could find and it was still less than 70$, or less than 1/4 of the price of the iPod I thought I wanted.

(I was reluctant to buy a Sony because of all of their DRM/root kit dealings, but there's none on the player itself, so I eventually went with that.)

I'm really enjoying it so far. The battery use is minimal.

And it left money for a home theater system :-)

Again, I've had my eyes on this market for a while. I took it to heart when I read that sound is more than half of the equation for any AV system. We've got a small (like 19" I think) tv, with just the in-case speakers. The cheap Target stereo system we had didn't even have a place for audio inputs. But most home theater systems have a DVD player with them, which I didn't need, so I hadn't pulled the trigger on anything in the 100$ plus range.

Then I saw a speaker system in the KMart flyer for 38$. It seemed almost too good to be true. No DVD player and the only receiver to speak of is integrated into the subwoofer, so that's all one component with a fairly small footprint. 5 satellite speakers. 3 audio inputs (DVD, Game, and Aux).

So I thought 'What the hey. I'll give it a try. If it stinks, I'll take it back.'

And it's working out really well. I'm no audiophile, but the sound quality is vastly improved. I've already heard some stuff in mp3s and GameCube that I hadn't heard before. And the ability to raise the volume is MUCH better. I haven't even placed the rear speakers yet.

So, in this case, my glacial deliberations (on account of limited gadget budget) paid off and I've ended up with two components I really like for about one quarter of what I figured it would cost me. Excellent.

And, yes, my purchasing services (which include extensive research, reports and recommendations) are available for hire ;-)

Wil and Daddy sing 'Erie Canal'

This is the one Wil sang in the big bed this morning before we all got up.

this is an audio post - click to play

(The messed-up schedule last 'night', in case you're interested:
  • Everyone, including Momma and Daddy who are lying down with the twins, falls asleep by 9pm.
  • Momma wakes up ca. 2:30am. Does laundry and dishes while listening to 'Pride and Prejudice'.
  • Momma goes to sleep in her own bed ca. 4:30am. Wakes up Daddy, who gets up and works for awhile.
  • Wil wakes up ca. 6am, goes to the big bed.
  • Daddy returns to the big bed ca. 6:30am to snuggle with Momma and Wil
  • Wil sings 'Erie Canal'
  • Bethy comes to the big bed ca. 6:35am
  • Everyone up by 6:45am
  • Daddy, Elizabeth and Wil leave for school and work before 7:30am.
Crazy, but it's been a great day so far.)

(2nd note: Jaq, I think you might especially like this post, with your New York state of mind and VeggieTales (Pa Grape) singing 'Erie Canal' as a children's song (On 'Larry's Wonderful World of Autotainment'). 'Uh, Sal. You're on my foot.')

(And one more thing: In case you haven't seen it, Jaq. VeggieTales 'Lord of the Beans' is pretty good. That is all.)

Wil and Daddy sing 'Down to the River'

I was going out to the kitchen to record Wil singing the next selection when I caught him singing this one. Decided to capture it with audioblogger and my cell phone instead of Audacity on the desk top. I will, of course, cross post it to 'twinlog'. He's such a sweet boy!

this is an audio post - click to play

In Bethy news, she said she wanted something about love next, but she wanted Wil and me to sing it...

Tom this morning

Up early. That may account for some of the (positive) visceral reactions I had to reading Tom's latest posts.
+ One great way to turn this Dubai flap into some good would be to FINALLY improve our container security. It's assinine to strip-search grammas when containers come and go basically ununspected.
+ Letting things like (basically) slave labor go on in North Korea is unconscionable. Of course, it has to get in line with Sudan and other such situations the developed world has not been willing to intervene in.
  • we're not stuck in the old status quo, supporting authoritarian regimes
  • we've cracked the nut on elections and now Hamas et al. will have to answer to their constituencies and get re-elected
  • some of the outcomes will be bad, and we'll have to encourage future iterations (versions, if you will, eg Democracy 0.2) but we've helped foster change that has every chance of being good
  • you know I'm no Bush-lover, which makes the following quote more credible (coming from me):
    • 'In five years, [the Bush Administration] has brought four democratic governments to power in the Middle East: by force of arms in Afghanistan and Iraq, and through highly assertive diplomacy in Lebanon and Palestine.'
  • the Greatest Generation died in incredible numbers in WW2 to fight for freedom. Though many don't agree (it's not as obvious), we have a challenge to make the world better before us that is worth sacrifice (we're nowhere near their numbers). You can cast Afghanistan and Iraq in a negative light. However, it's also possible to see really good developments there and in the Long War.
  • a weak federal or tri-partite Iraq is not a big loss
  • much of the violence in Iraq is payback for Sunni oppression of Shia over the years and Sunnis trying to hold onto their once-enjoyed dominance
    • 'But so long as Iraq doesn't slip into outright civil war (always a possibility and yet, a muddling-through scenario of not-quite-right-civil-war-but-never-quite-the-dreamed-of-ceasefire won't be that bad either, so long as U.S. troops get to continue their withdrawal behind the wire and let the Shiite militias increasingly engage in the inevitable squelching of the Sunni-based insurgency that seeks it's survival through civil war), it's continuing source of Big Bang pressure on the rest of the region will serve a lot of good purposes. And to the extent that civil war is threatened, again, autocrats are more deeply incentivized toward change, lest their own populations catch similar fevers.'
  • we can survive an atomic Iran (but can the House of Saud?)