Monday, April 30

My friends send me good stuff

+ Jason wrote me with a very interesting article on the early US war with North African pirates (the halls of Tripoli). Great quote from the brilliant James Madison:

It is a settled policy of America, that as peace is better than war, war is better than tribute. The United States, while they wish for war with no nation, will buy peace with none.

+ Kurt sent a video of Radiohead (whom he adores) with a monster solo at the end:

Sunday, April 29

Colbert on Guam

Brad, who lives on Guam, has the Colbert Report Special on Guam. Funny, especially when he interview their Congresswoman. I hope she knew she was being put on or I may die of embarrassment for her.

So, since it's funny, and it's so ridiculously easy to throw it up here, too, here you go:

General failure

In case you missed it, Army Lt Col Paul Yingling's indictment of America's generals is swarming the internet, showing up not just in military circles, but also in and Digg (maybe the younger service personnel have just infiltrated those networks that deeply).

I basically agree with Yingling. If I have any criticism, it's that he's a little too hard on the generals. It's pretty hard to stand against all of the inertia that ill-prepared us to fight this Long War. Industry, Congress, and the military's own history are enough in themselves to make it nearly impossible to change before failure.

Yingling alludes to what is needed to fight the Long War, nearly prescribing a draft and radical changes in procurement. I hate to be a cynic, but I don't think that's going to happen. I think you'll see the US pull back before those changes happen.

This is probably what the services need to hear from one of their own. I certainly hope it does some good.

It'll be interesting to see where Yingling goes from here, professionally. Politically, I'd say he's got Congressional testimony in his future...

ps: Tom's quoted Yingling before.

Friday, April 27

2 links on the war to connect the Middle East to the rest of the world

+ Tom linked yesterday to an Economist article on Egyptian webloggers :

THEY call themselves pyjamahideen. Instead of galloping off to fight holy wars, they stay at home, meaning, often as not, in their parents' houses, and clatter about computer keyboards. Their activity is not as explosive as the self-styled jihadists who trouble regimes in the region, and they come in all stripes, secular liberal as well as radical Islamist. But like Gulliver's Lilliputians, youthful denizens of the internet are chipping away at the overweening dominance of Arab governments.

Soldier on, brothers. Maybe, in some small way, I am pyjamahideen, too.

+ Touching article from this morning's (Pentagon) Early Bird about medevac in Iraq. An excerpt:

    Wednesday morning, the Charlie Co. team was sitting in chairs wedged in inch-deep gravel, tossing small rocks into a metal can -- and occasionally at each other.
    Suddenly, the phone rang. The team was on its feet and in the headquarters office within seconds. Two Iraqi army injured, came the message. In Amariyah, western Baghdad.
    Less than 10 minutes later, the pilot, co-pilot, medic and crew chief had on their body armor and the helicopter was taking off. It was 11:32 a.m.
    Flying fast over date palm farms and rivers, it took just a few minutes more to reach western Baghdad; Sgt. Kimbriel had pulled on latex gloves and was readying himself to pick up the patients. Sgt. Orange, his roommate and friend, was right behind, flying "chase" in a second helicopter.
    Sgt. Kimbriel jumped out into the dust cloud raised by the rotor blades as the first Blackhawk touched down at an Iraqi army post in the middle of a Sunni insurgent area.
    Moments later, he returned leading a group of Iraqis with a soldier who had suffered a partial amputation of his right leg. By the time the helicopter lifted off, Sgt. Kimbriel was cutting off the man's shirt.
    He leaned over, looked the man in the eyes as he started to shake on the metal litter, and held up a forefinger to reassure him: "One minute" until they would reach the U.S. hospital inside the walled Green Zone, he said.
    During that minute, Sgt. Kimbriel removed the rest of the man's shirt, checked his entire body for other injuries, found some perforations on his right side, checked his blood oxygen levels, and wrote up a report.
    It was 11:54 a.m. -- just 22 minutes after lifting off from the medevac helicopter flight-line -- when the Blackhawk pilot set down softly outside the hospital, where doctors, nurses and interpreters were waiting.

God bless them all.

Thursday, April 26

Hurin and Bjorn

Links for a couple more topics, sparsely annotated:

+ Mark links to an interesting take on The Children of Hurin by the psuedonymous Spengler of Asia Times Online. The lead:

J R R Tolkien was the most Christian of 20th-century writers, not because he produced Christian allegory and apologetics like his friend C S Lewis, but because he uniquely portrayed  the tragic nature of what Christianity replaced. Thanks to the diligence of his son Christopher, who reconstructed the present volume from several manuscripts, we have before us a treasure that sheds light on the greater purpose of his The Lord of the Rings.

+ Could one definition of 'genius' be the person who finally tells you what makes perfect sense? I'd put Tom in that category. I'd also put Bjorn Lomborg in there. I read his stuff or listen to him and wonder 'How can anyone disagree with this?' That we should invest our global aid on projects that will have the most benefit?

And, in case you were wondering, I actually stumbled across Lomborg first ;-)

Anyway, Tom links Bjorn again today, specifically a brief interview on the Jim Lehrer News Hour. I went from there to Wikipedia , and found Bjorn's TED talk over there.

Monday, April 23

Torn between two lovers...

A bunch of tabs open that I want to log for you and not wanting to type them up. Let's see:

+ ZenPundit's coverage of The Children of Hurin . Amazon wrote today to say my copy's on the way...

+ 25 Great Calvin and Hobbes Strips. I love Calvin. Reading some of these reminds me of Wil. (via Jaq)

+ BTW, Wil has a new, Meet the Robinson's-inspired story up at twinlog called Wil's Frends and the Time Mushen

Eight Google Apps in Your Future plus Illustrated Google Wishlist: Google Drive

+ To listen: Death Cab cover over Lovesong by the Cure (via)

+ To watch: international trailer for next Harry Potter(n) (via kottke)

Hmm. I did ok ;-)

interact: Political weblog?

Geez! Should I take from the flood (relative to normal) of comments on my last two posts that you, my faithful readers, want me to write about politics more?! We're up to 12 on Giuliani and 4 on Hillary. If you haven't read them, check 'em out!

Sunday, April 22

What about Hillary?

Well, while we're on the subject, here's an article about Hillary in Iowa yesterday. So what do I think?

She says if she's elected she'll make Bill a roving goodwill ambassador. That sounds like a pretty good idea.

She denounced the Bush administration, which she said has left the government incompetent. "They have shown contempt for our government," Clinton said. "We've got to get back to having qualified people, not cronies, serving in the government of the United States."

She said Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have done lasting damage. "I don't think we know all the damage that this president and vice president have done," Clinton said.

I basically agree with that statement. But I don't think the answer is better bureaucracy. I think it's less bureaucracy.

"You've got to have more help for communities when you have a lot of undocumented workers because they have costs associated with that and they don't set immigration policy," Clinton said.

She also said any immigration reform must be tougher on businesses that hire illegal immigrants.

She said nothing will affect the issue until leaders of countries, such as Mexico, improve the economic lives for millions living in poverty.

I'm pro-immigration, but we do need to make sure communities get help to support that population if they need it. Should that help come more from the businesses who hire immigrants? I don't know.

As far as improving economics in Mexico? That's an even taller order.

Clinton also said she would raise taxes for the wealthy, who she said "aren't paying their fair share." She also praised the economic policies of her husband that brought budget surpluses.

Not sure anymore that this is the answer, either. I'm being persuaded that tax cuts produce more tax revenue, though I haven't seen that it's proven.

One interesting note: the emails Blogger sent me about comments on my Giuliani thread produced the following Gmail ad:

Clinton Climate Change
Learn how Bill Clinton is making a difference in Climate Change battle

Interesting that the Clinton Foundation is paying for those (unless they're getting comped as a non-profit...).

How about you? What do you think about Hillary?

Saturday, April 21

Could I vote for Rudy?

Tom's becoming a Giuliani fan. Hasn't endorsed him yet, but he likes him. Briefed his staff, who then requested Tom brief Giuliani in person, which he did. Tom's column tomorrow is about that.

Rudy on the issues

Rudy's top two priorities are:

1. fiscal discipline - cutting spending and taxes
2. national security - stay on offense and keep terrorists on defense

I'll buy those.

Other plusses:

+ He talks about responsibility and the leader being responsible.
+ He's optimistic about the US and the world and our future. Optimism is important.
+ He's an outsider to Washington with big government leadership experience (basically equivalent to a former governor), including working with a Democratic city council.

You might want to check out some of the video on his website, like his welcome message or Rudy on his record .


+ I am concerned about Rudy's personal life, his two previous marriages, and especially his estrangement from his son.
+ Is Chris Rock right? That Giuliani's like a pit bull: good in a crisis, but otherwise he might eat your kids? ;-)

We'll see.

What do you think?

Thursday, April 19

He's always Harry Potter-n to me

The twins don't pronounce his name 'Harry Pottern' anymore, but I still prefer it. Two stories that come from Christine having recently read them Prisoner of Azkaban:

1. Christine loves Jim Dale's reading of the Harry Potter books. She basically listens all the way through all of the books and then starts over. Sometimes she throws in a Jane Austen book on tape in the middle. And she mostly listens in the kitchen while she cooks or washes dishes, so, hey, she can listen to whatever she wants as far as I'm concerned. (Well, not Rush Limbaugh or similar...).

Anyway, we often describe Jim Dale in passing as 'the best reader in the world' or some such. But Bethy is firm that she likes Christine's reading better than Jim Dale's. I think, in Christine's estimation, this is about the nicest compliment she has ever gotten.

2. One night Wil said 'If I was a student at Hogwarts, and they had Guard Boys, and a dementor tried to mess with me, I'd be, like, 'Oh yeah, well I know a lot of spells! EX-PECT-O PA-TRO-NUM!'


Wednesday, April 18

Our Spring Break in Spring, Texas

Christine has posted the pictures. You'll go look at them, along with my extremely valuable commentary, if you know what's good for you! ;-)

Tuesday, April 17

What's better than working on one laptop?

We drove about 6 hours Friday night, heading back home from visiting my baby brother, Ryan, and his family in Houston. We finally made it to Vicksburg, Mississippi and up to our room in the Holiday Inn Express. The twins were ready for bed, in their pajamas, and I pulled out my laptops to start working. I said, 'Hey Bethy, do you know what's better than working on one laptop?' ;-)

I had supposed when I got my new work laptop that I would switch completely to it and pass on my personal laptop to Christine.

But I don't like my company Dell Latitude D620 as well as I like my personal Compaq Presario V5000. I much prefer the Compaq's HD widescreen and the 'touch' of the touchpad and the wider keyboard layout.

Plus, I can only access the company intranet on the company laptop because it requires VPN. And the company network requires Internet Explorer which I can use, of course, but which I do not like to use regularly. I'm a power Firefox user, using many keyboard shortcuts and keyword bookmarks that don't work in IE. There are still many things I can do for work outside of the company intranet, with Firefox, but going back and forth between VPN/IE and normal Internet/Firefox is annoying.

Solution: Work on both laptops at the same time. And it's working great.

Question: Is Christine left in the lurch? I don't think so, but she can comment here differently, if necessary. I can easily make one laptop at least partially available to her almost any time. And she still has the desktop...

We'll see how we adapt going forward, but that's the current configuration.

Celebrity/money (and one normal guy) report

Since I'm not sleeping, I have time to surf and report useless stuff.

First, because I'm interested. Second, why?

Anyway, in descending order of net worth:

+ Steve Jobs takes a $1 salary from Apple (not including the jet), but has a flight-load of Apple and Disney (largest single shareholder stock). He's valued at $5,700,000,000.

+ Alfonso Soriano injured himself yesterday. He only makes $17,000,000 per year.

+ Steve Spurrier ( $1,750,000 per year) said if anyone were to ask him, he thinks the Confederate flag should come off the State House grounds.

+ The Obama family made $1,700,000 in 2005 and gave away $77,000, or 4.5%. If I were a avowed Republican, I'd say Obama is only audacious with other people's money. It's not a one-for-one correspondence, though, because politicians trade earning power for political power. And Obama raised more than $25,000,000 for his presidential campaign in the first three months of this year.

What's my point? (Or, turning my wicked keyboard on myself...) Why do I click through on this stuff? I can repudiate it, but I still participate in the culture of celebrity and money. I over-value money. I won't divulge my earnings, but I will tell you that I spend more of it on myself and my family than I should. I don't give enough away. My impulse spending is more that 10x my impulse giving. Though I've been moving to the right from the socialist leanings of my youth, my guilty liberal conscience remains. Add a guilty Protestant conscience to that.

What do you think? Where do you stand on all of this celebrity/power/money stuff?

Monday, April 16

What can make you happier...

What can make you happier than opening your son's door to check on him and finding him reading his new Bible that he got for Easter?

Nope. I can't think of anything, either :-)

Probably too early to call him Bible Boy, but it has a nice ring to it ;-)

Thursday, April 12

Good taste

I said, 'Someone in this van has really good taste.' And Bethy said "Who, you and me?"


Friday, April 6

Good Friday

A complicated holy-day.

+ Brad has a Good Friday post with painting.

+ For my part, I will quote you some Scripture from Luke:

When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross.

Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing."

A sign was fastened to the cross above him with these words: "This is the King of the Jews."

By this time it was noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o'clock. The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. Then Jesus shouted, "Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!" And with those words he breathed his last.

Thursday, April 5

Shift Luke NASCAR

+ Brad linked a YouTube video called Shift Happens a while ago. Pretty good on globalization, information, etc. Like he said, it's worth 6 minutes of your time (but I just got to it ;-)

+ Got Bruce Kuhn's Gospel of Luke DVD in the mail a couple of days ago. Finished watching it with the twins tonight. Really great. If you would like to hear and see the Bible in a fresh way, this would be 30$ well-spent.

I had the cassette tape and went looking for a CD or mp3, but a DVD is nice. I can make my own mp3 (unlike Dan ;-)

+ Marshall had a great post about going to the Richard Petty Driving Experience at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Tax time, videos, Dixar, and Hawkeyes

+ I was familiar with the Flat Tax, but the FairTax is a new one on me:

The FairTax Plan is a nonpartisan national grassroots campaign to replace the federal income tax system with a progressive national retail sales tax. It provides a "prebate" to ensure no American pays federal taxes on spending up to the poverty level, dollar-for-dollar federal revenue replacement and, through companion legislation, repeal of the 16th Amendment.

They claim bipartisan support. I didn't see endorsements on their site. I'd be interested to see some...

What do you think?

+ Jaq links two dancing videos, Singin' in the Rain and The Time Warp. I wonder what other good, classic dance videos are on YouTube. You know, like Dirty Dancing ;-)

But seriously, I think I'll show Singin' in the Rain to Bethy. And maybe look up Torvill and Dean . We'll pass on Rocky Horror for now ;-)

+ Dan links a video mashup of freedom speeches. King, Reagan, Kennedy, Kennedy, Malcolm X (Goldwater?). Check it out.

+ Month-old NYT article on Lasseter's reign at Disney. (via kottke)

+ I'm optimistic about the new Iowa coach, Todd Lickliter . Looks like they went after Bruce Pearl first.

Wednesday, April 4

Periodic inbox books

+ I sure love Humbug's Periodic Table of Blogs!

+ Dan got his inbox down to zero, and even linked my post from when I did. Congratulations, Dan!

I must confess, mine is back up to 31... but I'm working on it! ;-)

+ Saw out there on the Intarweb that has lots of free, public domain books in various digital formats including pdf, Palm, cell phone, iPod. Go nuts! ;-) Also, a fair number of links to free audio copies of many at LibriVox.