Saturday, February 26, 2005

Good News!

According to SiteMeter, we have now passed 1,000 hits! Plus, we now have 4 contributors (2 of which are active). And last but not least, we've had our first international comment (a young lady from The Netherlands)!!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

A Bridge in Brooklyn

Shades of "hot" stock tips, Nigerian bankers, and waterfront property in Florida.

Last night's news story sang a familiar tune, this time focusing on a real estate setup. A company by the name of First Frontier Corporation is marketing, via the Internet, investment property in the purportedly swanky digs of Fairfield Glenn, Tennessee.

Surprise, surprise, this "can't miss opportunity" yields relatively worthless land. Federal Way, WA resident John LeLoup complains loudly that he was duped! He didn't worry he was buying sight unseen from a telemarketer. "The man on the phone said it was a moneymaker and that I would double my money within five or six months." With little to show for his exertion, Mr. LeLoup instead turned his worthless investment into his fifteen minutes. On local news no less! Still a poor return.

Frankly I cannot feel the requisite pity for Mt. LeLoup that the story demands. Or for any other such "victims". The unifying and common factor in each and every successful scam can be summed up with a single word. G-R-E-E-D.

Now don't get me wrong, I like greed. I'm all for it! It's what keeps us all working. But really folks, can we ever expect to receive something for nothing? Do you truly believe that can happen? Sadly quite a few do, and therein lies the problem. The only people who can (and will) fall prey to these schemes are those who actually believe that they can get something for nothing.

Paradoxically, it is the salesperson in the transaction that ultimately achieves this nearly impossible goal.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Looks like "Trekkies" are mounting a quixotic effort to save the current (and 5th) Star Trek series, Enterprise, from the cancellation dustbin. Few folks (among those of us who do not wear the costumes and go to the conventions) can claim to be a bigger fan than I, but I say let it go quietly; Enterprise sucks, lets face facts. I say focus energies on the creation of a new, quality Star Trek sequel, not on keeping a bad one for the sole sake of keeping it.

Lets hope any new series includes both Jeri Ryan and Jolene Blalock.......

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

American Girl Reality

Although I can't stomach the man, former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani once said "why do some people spend their whole lives waiting to be insulted?". The context was that while there are certainly legitimate complaints about prejudice and cultural insensitivity in the media and elsewhere, there's also a plethora of issues blown out of proportion in the interest of ever intensifying political correctness. I listened to this piece on NPR with more than a bit of amusement. I think the some of the good folks in Pilsen need to lighten up.......

Definitions and Messaging

Very interesting perspective on each side of the political divide. Though there's no doubt on which side the author resides (just read the name at the top left. Ha! no pun intended!), it is a somewhat clinical and objective article.

The United Nations

One of the more amusing perennial cries from the stiffies is "GET US OUT OF THE UN!!!", or something to that effect. This is usually followed by some mutterings like "they couldn't disarm Saddam, we had to do that alone!" or "we'll never turn the sovereignty of the USA over to the French and Germans!".

While far from perfect, the United Nations is a necessary and often effective organization (it would now appear that UNSCOM, and later UNMOVIC were quite effective in Iraq prior to the invasion). It is not an aggressive military powerhouse, but it is not meant to be. It is, however, a very competent provider of aid and comfort around the globe, as well as a forum to resolve disputes. Its the only vehicle which allows the most countries to formally communicate on a regular basis. At its worst, the UN is harmless, benign. At its best, it represents great hope, where there previously was none.

As with most simplistic rightie battle cries, the one about US sovereignty is misguided and misleading (as was done effectively during last year's presidential campaign where POTUS attempted to mislead the public about John Kerry by repeating the "global test" statement). The UN is not a world government with its Secretary-General as the President, wielding significant global power. It is more like a combination of a homeowners' association and a service organization. The real power in the UN rests with the Security Council, and specifically with the 5 permanent SC members (which includes the US). Any significant decision made by the UN has to be approved by at least 9 members of the UNSC, and has to be unanimous among the permanent 5. Any one of the 5 can kill the deal. Besides, whenever the US disagrees with the world, we just pick up our toys and go home anyway, so what are we worried about?

Friday, February 18, 2005


What's up with the big wet one W planted on Joe Lieberman's cheek during a warm embrace after the SOTU address a few weeks ago? I always thought Joe sounded more like a whining stiffie than a progressive.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

One State Two State

CNN has an interesting interactive web site which contains a lot of graphic data concerning the elections last November. With it one can drill down to the county level and see what percentage of the voters chose what candidate in each county. The counties are color coded, from light red to dark red (dark being the strongest stiffie supporters), light blue to dark blue, white for neutral. and gradations of yellow for "other". What's remarkable is that as you look at the maps of each state (with the color coded counties) a pattern begins to emerge in almost all the states, whether "red" or "blue" (as usual, the media oversimplified this concept, making a bluey in a red state feel all alone, as if they should move).

The pattern that emerges is that in most instances, the closer you get to large population centers the more the shade moves toward blue. Even in some of the super-red states (such as Utah) the shade of red becomes much lighter as you get to the cities. Similarly, in the very blue states the shade becomes progressively more red as you move away from the major cities. (a great example is the state of New York, where 82% of voters in Manhatten chose Kerry, or Washington state, seen as a true blue state)

This consistant pattern invites all kinds of interpretations, such as the closer you move toward centers of culture, diversity, and learning the more open minded and tolerant folks are. Any others?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Theoretical Conservatives

As I was reading a recent article regarding Alan Keyes' decision to kick his 19 year old daughter Maya out of the house (and refuse her college assistance) because she admitted to being a lesbian, it struck me how conservatives' views on their major "values" (read "moral") issues seem to consistantly have 4 common characteristics: First, they are passionate almost to the point of pugilism (maybe even all the way!) when defending them, often with a hateful intolerance not dissimilar to segregationists in the 50s and 60s (and white supremacists of today). Second, they usually involve the imposition of personal beliefs & opinions on others, even though others actions have no practical or direct impact on said conservative. Third, they usually involve emotion and little science, common sense, or reflection of reality. And last, when confronted directly with the reality of these issues in their own lives, they make an exception showing compassion and acceptance (Mr. Keyes being a notable exception to this).

One conclusion one can draw is that conservatives view life as a perfect plan, or maybe a perfect pre-plan. No room for discussion, no room for compassion, no room for anyone or anything who does not look and think as I do. But if and when a reality hits their insulated existance, they are forced to see the world through a different lens. I can think of 3 prominent examples off-hand, there are probably dozens more if I put some time into it. Dick Cheney, and his "softened" stand on homosexuality (which tells me he has more character, believe it or not, than Mr. Keyes). Nancy Reagan, and her support of expanded stem cell research. And in the corporate world, Bill Safire's opposition to media consolidation (good for other industries, but not one that threatens his livelihood). We won't see any ground given on homeless or poverty issues, as these folks are very unlikely to touch that issue directly.

I see this all the time at the local level as I live in a relatively conservative community. Its a provide for your own family, be tough attitude until you have a child with a physical or mental disability. Then its open the floodgates for government programs. Anti-choice, until my 15 year old daughter comes home pregnant. And pro-invasion, until my 19 year old son has to go to Iraq. Conservative values are theoretical, until reality comes home to roost.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Europeans "gave us a pass..."

Interesting excerpt from recent Seymour Hersh speeches. Note the language in the sixth paragraph, chilling. Mr. Hersh has proven to be a well connected, objective, accurate, and true investigative journalist for more than 36 years. He has worked for UPI, AP, The New York Times, and has contributed to articles in the New Yorker and PBS among others, as well as published eight books. Mr. Hersh won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1969 uncovering of the My Lai massacre.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

On second thought.....

Well, it was inevitable.

Sunday saw an election of sorts in Iraq which exceeded expectations, which is both positive and hopeful. Now we need to see what it really means in terms of its impact on the Iraqi future, and if that country's situation is now indeed progressing rather than regressing.

Then of course come the pundits. The pro-Bush folks are writing the "I-told-you-so" columns (as if a single event can buttress 2 years of a failed policy), and the perpetually self-doubting "liberals" are asking if they could have been wrong all along.....

This is a great example of how shallow, two-dimensional, and uninformed our thinking is regarding foreign policy is in this country. We don't fully understand the gravity and complexity of our actions around the world (thanks to our "instant" culture and USA Today-style media). I believe we probably put far more time, critical thinking, and deep & protracted discussion into who's going to win the Super Bowl than into what's going on in Iraq. To change one's opinion (either direction) based upon a single day's event is as superficial and simplistic a view as deciding to wear the blue shirt instead of the red one today, or deciding which was the best episode of Friends.

If the Iraqi election gives the anti-war folks pause, then they probably opposed it for the wrong reasons in the first place. To accept the war as justified one almost surely has to also accept the following:

-- That the estimated 100,000+ innocent Iraqi civilian deaths were justified
-- That the current situation for millions who's lives are still miserable in the country (basic services, housing, food, medical care, etc) is worth it
-- That the 1,400 and counting American GI deaths were worth it
-- That the 10,000 and counting American GIs who are permanently maimed is worth it
-- That we actually had the moral and legal right to unilaterally invade a sovereign nation that has never threatened us, who posed no threat, and impose our will on them
-- That our lifestyle and form of governance is the only correct way to live
-- That the subsequent dramatic boost in terrorism worldwide as a result of this action (and subsequent increase in danger) is worth it
-- That the elections really mean anything long term (I hope they do, but we don't know that yet)

The "end justifies the means" approach to this is reckless, particularly when the average American citizen feels absolutely no pain from this mis-adventure.

But Arianna puts it much more eloquently.....