Δευτέρα, Μαΐου 31, 2004

I'm Sure You Knew This Already but...

I am an enzyme. I am powerful, dark,
variable, and can change many things at my
whim...even when they're not supposed to be
changed. Bad me. I can be dangerous or
wonderful; it's my choice.

Which Biological Molecule Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Memorial Day

Today for Memorial Day, Dad and I went out to Wilson's Creek Battlefield to walk around and pay our respects. The Battle of Willson's Creek was fought August 10th, 1861 at Wilson's Creek, just to the southwest of Springfield, MO. Approximately 1300 Union soldiers and 1200 Confederate soldiers died, including Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon. Lyon is buried in the National Cemetery in Springfield, but there's a marker on the spot where he fell.


2500 dead on Bloody Hill, in the Ray's and Gibson's cornfields, by the creek. And this one one of the smaller battles of the Civil War. But the men who died here died fighting for my home, for my part of the country, for the people who would come after them. And we remember them, along with all the other men who left their homes, never to return, so that their homes and families and countrymen could live in peace. And we are grateful.

This is a great listing of Memorial Day posts around the blogosphere.

UPDATE: This, from Jeff Soyer is a great idea.
Today, tomorrow, let us think fondly of and honor and remember those who have given their lives for us. God bless them and prepare a special place in Heaven for them.

Skip the sales. Visit your local cemetery or war memorial and reflect for awhile. Tell your children that, quote: Freedom is not free. We only enjoy what we have because of so many lives lost defending us and our nation.

The Jews have a wonderful tradition of (during Passover) opening the front door, and leaving a dinner plate with food (wine?) for the ghost of the prophet Elijah. Tomorrow, when you have your barbecue, leave a seat, a place-setting for the spirit of a fallen soldier. Maybe, after explaining to your kids why, offer a moment of silence.

As it turned out, we were standing by the old canons at the top of Bloody Hill at 3PM, which was the designated time for a moment of silence. We hadn't planned on that, but it was the best place I can think of to have been.

As Abraham Lincoln said so beautifully:
...We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Raising Helen

I have a new post up at Abigail Reviews Everything, so if you wanna know what I thought about "Raising Helen," pop on over.

How Do You Measure A Year in the Life?

How much would it be worth to rescue an oppressed person and give them freedom? How much would it be worth to give one woman equal rights as a person? To prevent her from being raped? Or from being forced to wear a burqa? To allow little girls to go to school? To keep a member of a minority from being exterminated? To grant a Christian the right to worship as he or she chooses? To prevent a young man from growing up in abject poverty, and being trained to hate and kill?
How much would that be worth? If you said somewhere between $2300 and $4600, well, you're in luck. Because that's about what it has cost to rescue an Iraqi, if you trust the good folks at Cost of War, which I only sorta do. The reason for the range is essentially that I'm not sure how much of the war spending to which Cost of War refers is actually in Iraq -- some may be funding the fighting and rebuilding in Afghanistan. If the numbers are just for Iraq, just over 115billion have been used to date, and 26 million people are now free, their freedom being bought at a price of approximately $4600 per person, although that may get up to around $5346 per person by the time all's said and done. If, however, that figure includes Afghanistan as well as Iraq, the cost per capita drops roughly by half, as the populations of Afghanistan and Iraq are roughly equivalent (who knew), costing about $2300 per person, perhaps climbing to $2600. I think that's a pretty reasonable price, especially because it comes with the added perks of stabilizing the world's primary oil producing reason (and contrary to what the left would tell you, that's not a bad thing) and fighting terror, which if you recall, cost the American economy, all told, about 2 trillion dollars. Here's the interesting thing though -- the cost of the wars, whichever ones they are, wind up costing about $410 per person, or about $1641 per household. So your family and your next door neighbor's family have saved an Iraqi. That's kinda cool. If you also helped fight Islamic terror and prevented another devastating attack on the US, you saved about $7092 per person or $28409 per family. Seems like a good investment to me.

One final set of calculations: According to CNN.com 916 coalitions soldiers have died in Iraq ("806 Americans, 59 Britons, six Bulgarians, one Dane, one Dutch, one Estonian, 18 Italians, four Poles, one Salvadoran, 11 Spaniards, two Thai and six Ukrainians." Unilateral my posterior...) 124 soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan. That's 1040, but let's round that up to 1250 to account for additional casualties, like contractors, and future casualties. If 1250 people gave their lives to save 50 million, that's about a 1:40,000 ratio. Losing a soldier is always tragic, but if you're wondering what each of those men and women died for, there are 40,000 Iraqis and Afghans that are the reason. That also works out to approximately one soldier killed for every two people killed on September 11, one for every 1230 residents of Manhattan, one for every 457 residents of Washington DC, and one for every 225,600 Americans.

Now, it's up to you to weigh the costs, to decide how much blood and treasure is worth it to you to free Les Miserables of our age. In my mind, however, when I think about this, I think about the end of Schindler's List, when Oskar is with the Jews he saved, and realizes how many more people he could have rescued, going though each of his possessions and appraising them by the number of people they could have bought. Your contribution is $410 dollars to free part of one Iraqi for 14 months, costing you about $1.05 a day. That's two cents less than a McDonalds ice cream cone. Is that worth it to you?

Never Say Die

Reading the New York Times' article on Air America, I'm reminded of the opera Gianni Schicchi. Buoso Donati has died, and his family is terrified that he has willed his great fortune to the church and not to them, and Gianni Schicchi is brought in to help them perpetrate a hoax and get them the money. At one point, at least in the production I saw, Schicchi uses the corpse of the dead man like a puppet to convince a notary or doctor that Donati is still alive. I feel that this is what the NYT is doing with Air America. It's dead, and it's pretty obvious, but they're still waving it's arms at us and expecting us to believe otherwise.

Even by the chaotic standards of a new media company, Air America Radio's first two months of broadcasting have been convulsive. You don't say. And they're not even referring to the reactions of people listening to Randi Rhoades.

In a sign that the privately held company's financial woes have not fully abated, Al Franken, the network's best-known star, said in an interview last week that he had agreed not to draw a salary, however temporarily, making him "an involuntary investor.'' "We had some bad management,'' Mr. Franken said. "Then we got some good management.'' Bear in mind that this was over a period of, say, a month and a half.

Even as the network was finding an audience with its blend of humor and commentary, many of the principals' business relationships were dissolving in a flurry of charges and countercharges. The most serious concerned how much money Air America actually had on hand when it went on the air on March 31.

In early March, the network's chief executive, Mark Walsh, said that the company had raised more than $20 million, enough to keep it broadcasting for months, if not years, before making a profit.

But in an interview on Friday, Mr. Walsh said: "I was misled about that number.'' Mr. Walsh refused to say who had misled him, but he said that he had resigned in April because "the company wasn't transparent'' and "I was unable to decipher how it was being operated.''

"Financing wasn't as available for operational issues as we'd thought it was,'' he said. Reached on Friday, Mr. Cohen declined to comment on the state of the company's finances under his watch.

So let me get this straight -- a bunch of ranting, raving, drooling Leftists a) couldn't figure out how a business operates and b) committed to a very expensive venture without knowing how much money they had or how much it would cost, and then couldn't live up to their commitments? You've got to be kidding!

Despite the intrigue concerning its management - and the abrupt pulling of its programming last month from stations in Chicago and Los Angeles, in a contract dispute - there are early indications that, where it can be heard, Air America is actually drawing listeners. WLIB-AM in New York City, one of 13 stations that carry at least part of Air America's 16 hours of original programming each day, even appears to be holding its own with WABC-AM, the New York City station and talk radio powerhouse that is Mr. Limbaugh's flagship.

For example, among listeners from 25 and 54, whom advertisers covet, the network estimates it drew an average listener share (roughly a percentage of listeners) of 3.4 on WLIB in April, from 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays, according to the company's extrapolation of figures provided by Arbitron for the three months ended in April.
(note: Arbitron doesn't actually provide figures. Air America extrapolated them. Keep that in mind.)

By contrast, according to Air America's figures, WABC-AM drew an average share of 3.2 during the same period in April for the same age group. That time period includes the three hours in which Mr. Limbaugh was pitted head to head against Mr. Franken.

So you're saying that in New York City, there are as many liberals as conservatives? It's very impressive that Air America has been able to match Rush in such a conservative area....um...yeah. This doesn't seem like a fair comparison, because NYC doesn't strike me as the kind of place where that many people, proportionally, listen to Rush. Flagship it may be, but Rush's base is in the red states, and beyond that, he may pull a 3.2 in New York city, but he's on and pulling shares in every radio market in the US. Now, if Air America was outdrawing Rush in Springfield, MO, (which it's not cuz you can only hear it in NYC) that would be impressive, and maybe actually reaching some people who aren't already planning to vote for Kerry. But achieving an equal liberal listenership in New York City, in the words of Shania Twain, don't impress me much. That's not Air America. That's Air Village Voice.

The network, which is also carried on the satellite radio providers XM and Sirius, has found an audience on the Internet. In its first week, listeners clicked on the audio programming on the Air America Web site more than two million times, according to RealNetworks, the digital media provider.
What about the second week? Did they come back? Is it possible that they were morbidly curious? In any case, if the point of Air America is to evangelize for the the Church of the Rhythm of Liberals, having to get their listenership via internet isn't a very good way to do it. The beauty of radio programming is that you listen to it while you're doing something else, and you find it largely by scanning the dial. Radio is something that just happens to you. Listening over the internet requires a lot more effort -- people have to go to the trouble of finding and listening the programming, instead of more or less overhearing it on the radio. I'm gonna guess that the people who are going to the trouble of finding it are the proverbial choir.

Mr. Sinton and Mr. Franken refused to say how much money the network had now, but said they had received assurances that the network would have no problem staying on the air through November, and beyond. Second verse, same as the first, little bit louder and a little bit worse...

Κυριακή, Μαΐου 30, 2004

On Valor -- Part II

Read this. You'll need Kleenex. It's about one remarkable young Marine. There are no other words.

Clay Aiken, WWII Flying Ace

E!Online has some hysterical tips for American Idol winners/runners-up. Good advice:

1. Win!
Good God, who wants to lose? Losing sucks. First, you have to stand on the Idol stage and pretend you're all happy for the people who are, unlike you, not the loser. Second, you have to take confetti in the eye--confetti that's meant for the people who are, unlike you, not the loser. Third, you have to release a crappy album that nobody buys, while the one person who is, unlike you, not the loser gets to go to fun stuff like the Grammy Awards.

2. Sell More Records Than the Idol You Beat
If you insist on winning, then get with the program--act like the winner. Winners come in first. They don't get all magnanimous and let some skinny Howdy Doody rack up the higher platinum-album count. They use the full heft of the 205 area code and put their backs into crushing the skinny Howdy Doody, rendering him unable to fulfill his performance commitments to Good Morning America and Saturday Night Live. That's the Chicago way (but apparently not the Alabama way).

3. Hire Ex-Contestants for Your Road Band
After vanquishing all of your rivals, keep an eye on those sneaks by putting them on the payroll. Was second-season Idol wannabe Rickey Smith going to pose a record-store challenge to Ruben Studdard? Uh-uh. But Studdard still did the smart thing and hired Smith as a backup singer. If he'd done the same with Clay Aiken, his position as the Idol of Idols would have been secure.

1. Lose!
If Ryan Seacrest starts to say your name, strong-arm him. Wrestle him to the ground. He's a smallish metrosexual--you can do it. Just whatever you do, don't let him crown you champ. Audiences expect the winner to sell lots of records and stuff. Who needs that kind of pressure? By comparison, people expect next to nothing from the loser. Do you really think anyone besides Justin Guarini lost any sleep when Justin Guarini's album tanked? Live by the motto of World War II aces past and Clay Aiken: Fly low, avoid radar and surprise 'em.

Go read the whole thing.

Now Bring Me That Horizon...

Yesterday I went to hear Anne Marie speak at the Duke TIP award ceremony at Drury. Her speech was good, and nicely geared towards the 7th grade audience, as her examples were Wendy Peppercorn (Sandlot), Jack Sparrow...erm...Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean), and Bert and Ernie. Her point was that other people in your life bring out who you really are, which was a good point. Other people cause you to take risks (Wendy inspiring Squints to dive into the deep end so she'd give him mouth-to-mouth), drag you out on adventures (Jack Sparrow turning Will Turner pirate to help him rescue Elizabeth and get the Pearl back) and compliment you perfectly, making you more yourself (Bert and Ernie). She talked about how you need those people around, so find them and keep them. Her big kicker point at the end was about being that person to somebody else -- being someone else's Wendy, Jack, and Bert or Ernie. It was neat, because today I had a Jack Sparrow experience. I was talking to Justin as he was attempting to walk the entire length of Manhattan, based on a conversation about whether or not that was actually possible, and we got onto the topic of whether or not he should stay in New York or go back for a couple more classes. And I did my usual Devil's Advocate routine, and may have accidentally set him on an adventure he didn't plan on and scares him to death, but might actually be very cool. It was cool. I tend to do that to people.

BONUS: I am Ernie. Susan is Bert. I am Agnes. Susan is Trout.

DOUBLE BONUS: Johnny Depp in six colors!

Taste the Rainbow!

Σάββατο, Μαΐου 29, 2004

Bush Has My Best Interests in Mind

I'm grateful to MoveOn.org for publicizing the fact that the Bush Administration has good taste. They don't want me to see The Day After Tomorrow. I assume, based on how bad it's turned out to be (haven't seen it, go read Dan Drezner's roundup if you want the sordid details of how bad it is), that the Bushies don't want to see it either. It's really quite sad how dumb MoveOn.org and the Left thinks the majority of America is. Do they really think that they're gonna get the majority of Americans to become enviromentalists because they fear that we're gonna have a ice age some time next week and get eaten by wolves? Heck, we have a wolf that lives on our land already, and we're doing fine. We have other problems. Given the choice between a party who will prevent terrorists from knocking down buildings in Manhattan and a party that will primarily keep me from being eaten by wolves...it's not a hard choice -- let the government deal with the terrorists, and I'll keep my right to bear arms and deal with the wolves myself, it it comes to that.

Moveon.org's homepage says:
This weekend, Hollywood will be releasing a summer blockbuster movie that's making the Bush administration very nervous. In fact, they'd rather you didn't see it at all. Why? Because it's a disaster movie about a potential climate crisis.
While "The Day After Tomorrow" is more science fiction than science fact, everyone will be talking about it — and asking "Could it really happen?"

I really hate misleading tease questions (on the cover of a magazine: Is GWB the love child of Regis Philbin and Ethel Merman? Inside: No. And the point was? To sell the magazine.)
So, if any of you were wondering...No. It couldn't happen, unless the earth stopped spinning, which is unlikely, and it would be unlikely even then. It just couldn't. Now you know the answer and you didn't have to sit through the movie. You're welcome.

BONUS: Al Gore once referred to a bunch of scientists who disagreed with him on the issue of climate change as "the empirical equivelent of the Easter Bunny." I don't know if he means that they don't exist or that they go around handing out chocolate and Peeps -- but either way, I'm glad he isn't running things. Also because of the Al-Goes-Off-His-Meds speech.

On Valor -- Part I

Today I saw the tail-end of the dedication ceremony for the WWII Memorial. Like most things of that variety, it moved me to tears -- in fact, most anything having to do with valor can do that to me. I didn't used to feel that way. In high school, I had a highly liberal history teacher who taught History of the Americas, and sold us on the idea that Fidel and Che were really sweet guys, that they were the best thing that could have ever happened to Cuba, etc. I was still a conservative, but one with socialist tendencies (yes, I know that doesn't work, but hey, I was 16 at the time). I didn't pledge Allegiance, I didn't salute the flag, and I felt that I was far superior for it. And then, my sophomore year in college, I woke up one day, checked my email, saw about 15 CNN Breaking News Alerts, turned on the TV, and watched the first tower fall down. And then the second. All day I watched, and then that night, I went to bed, and I looked out my dorm window and there was a huge flag on one of the cranes across the way. And our flag was still there... And I cried.

Today all the commentators, at least the ones on FoxNews, were going on about how the generation the fought WWII was truly the greatest generation. And maybe they were. I know my generation is still working out where it is and isn't appropriate to pierce oneself. But I don't think my grandparents have a monopoly on valor. One of my friends, an art major almost through with college, up and joined the Marines about four months after Sept. 11. He'll be leaving for Iraq in about a week. I have several other friends in that country as well. And they didn't have to go. They weren't drafted, economic pressures didn't force them into Uncle Sam's arms, and it wasn't peace time when they joined. But they did. They too are valiant. And there are thousands and thousands of others in our armed forces, our civil services, and our government today who understand right and wrong, who understand good and evil, and understand that there are things worth dying for. If we are given the choice, is it better to sit by and watch evil take place, to permit tyranny and allow oppression, or to sacrifice to stop these things. Valiant men and women from every generation have answered that question with the latter, and it is for that that they are heroes. And the home of the brave

Παρασκευή, Μαΐου 28, 2004

Five Men and a Goat

Friday night I went to hear Big Smith do a benefit concert for the Central vocal music department. They do this every year because their mom/aunt is best friends with the music teacher at Central. Incidentally, my mom was music teacher for two of them. Springfield is small that way. Anyway, Big Smith is the sort of thing you really have to experience to understand, but for those of you for whom that is not an option, I'm try to explain. They're a hillbilly band consisting of two sets of brothers, who are cousins, and one more cousin, for a total of five guys. Two of them are always in overalls, and at least three have beards. They play traditional Ozark music, some bluegrass, some gospel, and some things of their own invention. They also play about 25 instruments, between them, and most of the guys play at least 5 instruments. It's very fun because they often all switch instruments between songs (or during songs) and band members (especially Rik) tend to wander on and off stage as the mood strikes. They had a guest violinist who wandered on in the middle of a song, tuned up, and started playing. There was also a raffle out in the lobby for an assortment of donated items -- gift certificates, hair care products, etc. The hot raffle items, however, were a washboard, signed by all the guys, and a goat. A live goat. Rik really wanted the goat, and was willing to take it off the hands of anyone who one it and didn't really want it, but he won it anyway, so all was well.

Here are a collection of fun quotes from the show:

As they were introducing intermission, Jody (who was at the bass at that time) spontaneously started singing this, and the other band members joined in with harmonies and riffs:

I'm goin' out to the lobby
I'm goin' out to the lobby
I'm goin' out to the lobby
To buy me a goat

Mark: We're so glad you're here tonight to support the vocal music program here at Central.
Rik: Ya'll may be here for the vocal music program. I myself am here for the goat.

Jody: Back when our bluegrass forebears were putting together bluegrass music, they always kept a place for the noble Sousaphone. Nothing truly conveys the melancholia of life with a deep boom and counteracts the annoying, tinny sound of the mandolin like the American Sousaphone.

Mark: Now Jay's gonna come sing one that he wrote. You know, I worked up quite a sweat bringing this stuff in here this afternoon which mean's it's almost summertime. I say that because this next song is called Summertime.
Jody: That was the purpose of these remarks.

Mark: I'm gonna shut my mouth now and we're gonna play an instrumental...
Jody: It's named after my favorite kind of wood paneling -- Tongue and Groove

Rik: This here is a purdy lil' number about a crazed hillbilly who goes around killin' things with a hammer.

Everybody was dancing. It's the kind of music that you can't help but dance to. At least one member of the school board was dancing. Several teachers. Especially to 12", 3-Speed, Oscillating Fan. Great times.

Win Without War

Win Without War -- Umm...no. That's kinda like saying "Become A Football Hero from the Sidelines," but slightly less melodic and alliterative. If there was one thing I could drill into the heads of the loony leftists (pointy things not withstanding) it would be the fact that we are not necessarily at peace just because we're not at war. Nor is that faux-peace necessarily better than war. By some estimates, 11,000 Iraqis have died from unnatural causes in the past 14 months. As opposed to approximately 36,000 a year under Saddam. Now, I understand that the Left believes that the US is evil as a matter of faith, but I fail to understand how 25,000 people not dying in the past year, people that would have either starved, or been raped and killed, or dismembered, or buried in mass graves, or some combination thereof, is a bad thing. And that doesn't even count the people who's hands or ears or heads weren't cut off by Saddams thugs. The women who weren't raped by Uday and Qusay. The Olympic soccer players who will not be tortured if they fail at Athens. And now soldiers and government workers are being paid adequately. We spent 12 years trying to Win Without War, and if you're keeping score at home, 12 years times 36,000 people a year is 423,000 people. Give war a chance.

UPDATE: I stand corrected. Ed over at Captain's Quarters calculates the number of children dying yearly in Iraq was 50,000. 12 years times 50,000 kids a year is 600,000. Children. And then there were the adults, like the 300,000 Shia who were killed after Gulf War I. Or the conscripts who were forced to fight and die in Saddam's wars against Iran and Kuwait. Or the people that he killed for their beliefs, race, or no reason at all. And that was WINNING?

So I just figured out Trackback. It's rather nifty. If I write about someone's post, if they have trackback, I can ping them, and it creates a link from their blog to mine, or viceversa. Good times. Rich bloggy goodness.

Captain's Quarters writes about the ever-graceful OJ Simpson's attempts to secure large sums of money in exchange for his giving interviews, tastefully shot at Nicole's grave, or perhaps the murder scene. OJ, heres some free advice for you. Crawl back in your hole, and never stick your head back out again. If you ever give an interview again, it should be a) free and b) solicited by the news media, not you. Until then, we're all trying to forget it. I was in 6th grade when the verdict was read, and I still remember exactly where I was -- at a big black table in Mr. Scheer's chemistry lab. I feel that there are better uses for those brain cells, and OJ, while you occupy those cells, you get no more. Ever.

"I don't like pigeons -- they have no respect for public art." -- Niles

Τετάρτη, Μαΐου 26, 2004

This is a great article about large rodents that may have infiltrated your home. Share and enjoy.

Τρίτη, Μαΐου 25, 2004

Go listen to I Ran from LaChiusa's Little Fish. Good stuff. Evan did it at the Senior Showcase (although I'd swear he switched it to "I was in love with this girl...
In any case, I don't think a real recording exists, so click the link and fast forward to about 2:30 into the recording. The song is short and fun.

sung by Marco

I was in love with this man, big time
But the time of my life was not a good time
But I went with this man for a long time
Till I saw that I was having a big time bad time all the time
So I ran.
I bought a pair of sneakers and ran.
It hurt beyond redemption but I ran and I bore all the aches and pains
Cuz it beat eating lunch every day at Elaine's

I sweated and I panted and I fasted and I chanted
My life has gotten better, I bought an Irish setter

If you're hating your life
Big time
Then you've to to take steps to have a good time
I was in love with this man for a long time
A long time
A long
Now I love my self
And everybody can
All because I ran!

Κυριακή, Μαΐου 16, 2004

Okay, I'm back, I swear. I graduated, I went to Missouri, and I have absolutely no excuse for not having blogged in forever. I'm very sorry. I also have a new computer. His name is Squishy, and he's a 12" Powerbook, and he's adorable. Anyway, I promise to be more faithful to blogging now.

Σάββατο, Μαΐου 01, 2004


Supreme Court Justice David Souter suffered minor injuries when a group of young men assaulted him as he jogged on a city street, a court spokeswoman and Metropolitan Police said Saturday.

He is not the first justice to be injured while exercising. Justice Stephen Breyer was thrown from his bicycle several years ago and suffered minor injuries.