Saturday, September 28, 2002


Now this is scary. Weapons-grade uranium on the Syrian-Turkish border? I can just hear the paranoids saying "How convenient! What a coincidence! weapons-grade uranium shows up just when Bush needs some credibility on Saddam's progress towards nuke-u-lar weapons." Sure. They're right, in a way. It's all a matter of whom you believe, an American president whose every word and deed is scrutinized by a manic and cynical free press, a frustrated opposition party and masses of intellectuals trying to make a name for themselves or a mad dictator who answers to no one. Let's see, which choice makes more sense? And which one is going to blow up my city - OK, Tallahassee's far down the list, but it's on it - if he gets a nuke in play?

Also, I wonder if that cabbie's had a radiation check lately? Next time I'm taking a cab in eastern Anatolia, I'll make sure to ask the cabbie, "Oh, by the way, you don't happen to have any weapons grade uranium under this seat, do you?" Better safe than sorry.


A comment on the News Forum points out that the picture of the uranium cylinder at the Drudgereport has "Made in W. Germany" on it. Can I say I'm surprised? Haven't heard anything from the Green party former spokesmoron about this. Yet. And it weighs 33 pounds. Maybe someone will tell us how much of Germany a bomb made from that amount of uranium could blow up.

Adding site meter and comments

OK, I've breathlessly added a sitemeter and comments, now people have to start coming around and commenting or I'll feel like I've put on my Sunday best and washed my hair and have been left sitting on the sofa in the front parlor waiting for the phone to ring.

Friday, September 27, 2002


OK, some relative of mine is questioning my recall of the movie "The Graduate" in my "clever" essay on "Paper and Plastic" some posts back. Did the old relative really say "plastics" on his deathbed or at a party by a pool? How would I know, I've never seen the movie. I've not felt any need to see it for, what?, thirty-three years now, it's a bit late to start. Bits from the movie are now cultural history and myth, suitable for distorting and improving to fit one's needs. So that's what I did. I admit it. But I can still see the scene, the guy on his deathbed, Dustin Hoffman bending over him to hear his last words. OK, maybe not. But it's better than at a darn undramatic pool party. Come on, cut me some slack here! Artist at work!

Instapundit afterglow

Instapundit linked to my post about Islam and intoxicants. Ah, that feels good! Makes me wish I had a site counter or at least a comments section. How does one do that, anyway? I know I felt, mystically, an avalanche of eyeballs overwhelm my puny little blog.

God stuff

I've stumbled into a theology discussion on Dave Trowbridge's page that stimulated from me this comment:

D. Trowbridge says:

"I have no argument with people who have decided they can't believe in God, as long as they're willing to credit those of us who do believe with equal intelligence and good reason to believe."

If I were to credit you with "equal intelligence and good reason" on the subject of whether God exists, I would have to adopt your reasoning. Reason, by its nature, cannot, despite all the "quantum philosophy" mumbo-jumbo, lead you to two different conclusions on the same question. Any such reasoning is no better than believing in boogey-men under the bed because you are small and frightened.

So what is the evidence for the existence of God and what is the reasoning that leads from that evidence to the conclusion that he exists? More fundamentally, how can God "exist" in any sense that corresponds to what men mean when they use the word "exist"?

We'll see if I get any meaningful response. I'm not impressed by this argument: "Oh, you just haven't thought about this deeply enough like all of us deep thinkers who have been spending years pondering the question and obviously know better than you, besides which, our livelihood, self-respect and social acceptance all hinge on being perceived as Godly men."

Isn't the blogosphere wonderful?

Every concern gets addressed sooner or later. I've been hearing a really annoying ad misusing a CCR song to sell jeans for weeks now. And Ken Layne, via instapundit, links to a story about selling Sixties songs for commercials and how the Doors refuse to do that, while everyone else goes for the cash. That enabled me to submit to Ken Layne the following comment:

The debate on Sixties songs being sold for commercials caught my attention because I've been outraged lately by the use of a few bars from the Creedence Clearwater Revival song "Fortunate Son" to advertise Lee or Wrangler or some kind of jeans. The bars they use sound totally patriotic and flag-waving. But if you actually listen to the song, it's anything but. It's a classic and powerful protest against knee-jerk flag-waving. The ad is the most outrageous distortion of a song's message I've ever seen. Is John Fogerty nuts or dead or what?
It is nuts. Do they think we don't remember these songs? Or is anyone who actually remembers the songs too old to worry about? But if that's true, why are they using the songs at all? Don't they have anything newer that's better?


Catastrophe has come to Tallahassee. It's odd, though, the first Nole loss is almost a relief. It's as though now I can feel that the football season is over and relax until next year. And if there should be a revival in November, all the better.

Read this

Rachel Lucas takes Barbra Streisand apart, and, as afterthoughts, Alec Baldwin and Melanie Griffith. Read it, please, you'll like it! She appears to be committed, but Rachel could definitely lodge herself in my consciousness permanently. The comments are almost as good as the column.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Ramsey Clark is Satan

This article makes it clear that Ramsey Clark, who spoke to my class in prep school when he was sane, has lost touch with reality completely. Is there something in the water in Washington that turns government officials, like Scott Ritter, into total liars, freaks and traitors? Notice they call Clark "former Attorney General" even though he hasn't had any responsible post for thirty years. Thank God.


Duh. Tropical Storm Isidore (wasn't it better when they all had female names? And Anglo ones? Then there was a chance a really bad one would be named after your woman. And you could yell at her about it when you were drunk. But no. No more. Political correctness has taken away all the fun things) is coming ashore in Louisiana tonight. So it's raining here in Tallahassee, 400 miles to the east. Maybe this time New Orleans, Sin City, will join Sodom and Gomorrah on the list of those destroyed by the vengeance of God. It's only like 3 feet above sea level, so, hey, it could happen. And mega-surf should hit St. George Island any time soon. Maybe I'll take a run down there on Sunday, look for Spanish galleons in distress I can rob of their silver. Oh, you thought you could kill all the Incas in Potosi and use the silver to conquer England, did you? Well, I and Drake and Hawkins have a little something to say about that!

Four months of grilled seagulls?

I don't believe this article about a guy who got lost going to Catalina and spent three - other sources say four - months drifting around the Pacific. He survived, they say, on grilled seagulls and the occasional turtle. It smacks of Gilligan's Island, but reminded me more of Boon Island, a desolate islet off the coast of Maine just north of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where I used to live. Kenneth Roberts' book makes it clear how unlikely it is that a man could survive that long at sea without food. My antennae are up all the way on this one. Is he going through a bad divorce and took a side trip to some deserted isle to hide bonds and gold? How far could he have gone in that time? Probably not all the way to Hong Kong, but certainly to Mexico or South America. I'll keep watching this one.


A few more details emerge. This guy is Vietnamese and was picked up off Costa Rica. He was living on his boat in Long Beach harbor, according to this story. I'd suspect the Coast Guard could figure out if his boat would have ended up where it did if it was unpowered, as he says it was, having lost its mast in a storm. He's now homeless, or, er, a new category, "boatless".

Gorebot self-destructs

What is Al Gore doing? He makes a speech criticizing Bush for not doing things he has done, denounces actions he, Gore, supported but did not take and now he, Clinton like, tries to rewrite history about his attitude toward whether he approved or not of Bush 41's decision not to carry on to Baghdad in 1991. Luckily, the blogosphere's tearing him apart, but so is the regular media. Even Joe Lieberman is coming out against his "new attitude", as is a prominent Democratic candidate for governor of a "swing state". Can anyone be more politically dead and still be the choice of a plurality of Democratic voters for 2004? Is this Paradise or what?

Hey, and is this blog looking more and more like Instapundit since I learned to link or what?

Direct election of senators

Gary Farber's site has a discussion about the direct election of senators and how that might affect federalism. I think there's more than that involved, as I mention in my comment to his post:

Transforming the state legislatures into mini-electoral colleges for senators would enhance their stature considerably. The staggering of Senate terms would mean at least two out of three legislative elections could affect which party a Senator came from. I don't seem to recall whether the Constitution dictates the mode of election of senators. Would all members of the Legislature vote and a majority decide? Or would a State Senator have more influence on the result than a state representative? Nebraska, with its unicameral legislature, wouldn't have to work that detail out. I like the idea.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Smack the Nominalist

Found a great site combining theological disputation with humor. I'm going to keep going back until I understand why God doesn't exist or I die laughing, whichever comes first.
I knew it!

Finally, an article has pointed out the nature of the Irish Travelers, one of the modern versions of the Gypsies, to which belonged Madelyne Toogood, who got caught on TV pummeling her four-year-old. I had wondered what was going on. These nomad gangs have been dubbing around for years, bilking the elderly and unwary, but keeping in general below law enforcement's radar. Now they even have their own website. The proprietor tries to play up the romantic side of the Gypsy life style, but the ignorance and brutality displayed by Miss or - maybe - Mrs. Toogood is more typical. It does show how powerless the system is, though, to enforce laws requiring schooling and cultural mores encouraging self-improvement, truth-telling and peacefulness. Outlaws are still with us, for which maybe some say we should be grateful, but I'm not sure the little Toogood girl would agree.
I see from this story that US troops have been sent to the Ivory Coast to rescue Americans and other foreigners, 200 in all. Some French troops have also gone. I wonder if there are any Germans among the foreigners. Funny, I didn't see anything about German troops being sent to their rescue. Oh, well, I'm sure the Green Party can make up an expedition of dowsers, crystal ball-gazers and radical vegetarians to save their countrymen. God knows not one American GI should exert any effort to save any Germans. And I'm sure their government would not want us to help, since we're just Nazis and are probably only doing it for the oil.
Jesse the Moral Arbiter

Darling of the left Jesse Jackson is actually calling for censorship of a hit movie on the grounds that he's offended by it. I thought all these lefties were against interfering with creative freedom?? Only when their ox is not being gored, I guess. At least they can't call for government censorship, as in those countries, like France, Germany and California, that have draconian hate-speech laws.

Speaking of goring, Andrew Sullivan takes Al Gore apart completely over his late speech about how much better he would be prosecuting the war on terror by not worrying about terrorists like Saddam Hussein who have whole countries and WMD and concentrating on Osama bin Laden, who's decomposing in a bombed-out cave in Afghanistan.
New Neighbors

Time for some real weblogging. New neighbors moved in to the next townhouse yesterday. The same people had been there since I moved in seven (can it be that long?) years ago. We never talked much with the departees. The new people I glimpsed here and there - a middle-aged guy, a boy maybe in his teens, moving furniture in from the big U-Haul. Then in the night I heard a muffled bark or two. Oh no, not a dog. Why would anyone have a dog in a little townhouse? If I do become acquainted with the new neighbors, I will look back on the day they first moved in and wonder why I didn't see them as I will have come to know them. People are walking question marks. Finding the answer can be the fun part. Or maybe they'll stay there ten years and I'll never speak to any of them. Maybe they'll ask me questions, like, "Hey, how come you don't have a dog?"

Monday, September 23, 2002

Sour Krauts

My admiration for the W administration keeps growing. The "new" German government backtracked on their anti-Bush stance by firing two ministers after they got safely reelected. If I know W, and I hope I do, that's not going to make a bit of difference. Rummy and Condi working together may even be able to give Colin Powell a backbone, unless he's been sandbagging all these months. I still haven't figured him out. All US troops should be out of Germany within a year, by the end of 2003. I'm old enough to remember, as a small boy in Germany, the devastation left by the war and how the only, and I mean the ONLY bright spot was the thousands of American kids like me, well-fed, well-scrubbed and looking forward, occupying forces, sure, but holding out a hand to the German people in their hour, heck, their decade of need and deprivation on a scale we today would find hard to believe. And now, nearly sixty years later they won't even help rid the world of a tyrant as odious as the one they produced, before he can do the same kind of damage. That's it. No more German nothing for me. Too bad. I used to like sauerkraut.
Paper vs. Plastic

I can’t believe people, when asked whether they want paper or plastic grocery bags, sometimes want paper. It’s nuts. The plastic bags are wonderful. You can hold twenty pounds of groceries in a soaking rainstorm with your little finger. They have a thousand uses around the house and can even serve as quick-lighting firestarters when the weather turns cool. Paper bags, however, turn soggy at the touch of rain or a leaky can or bottle, are difficult to hold with one arm, much less with one finger, and tear easily.

Oh, I know, the knee-jerk enviros say that plastic is awful and paper is more “natural” and efficient. Huh? That’s so dumb it’s hard to imagine anyone clinging to such a belief after any reflection at all. Which only shows that a lot of people don’t even start to reflect. They just emote. Brown, paper, from tree – good. But not too many, because there are only so many trees and they’ll all be gone soon. Right. Plastic – arggh – unnatural non-earth tones, from icky petroleum products raped from Mother Earth by right-wing conservative Texans. That’s about as far as their thinking goes. In truth, of course, the plastic bags are far more efficient than the paper ones. They weigh almost nothing, probably ten to a hundred times less than the paper ones. This means a tremendous savings in transport costs. Their strength means much less food is wasted from broken bottles and jars and dented cans and broccoli florets strewn across rain-soaked parking lots. And they even take up much less space in landfills and keep dyes and their other chemicals safely locked up instead of letting them leach into the soil, if you’re concerned about such nonsense. Not to mention that they’re cheaper, lowering food costs even more.

The worst way to bring home groceries is in your own canvas bag. Oh, I know, all the big chains are promoting them now, asking you to spend six or more dollars per bag. Now these things are heavy. You have to have ten dollars worth of groceries in them to equal the weight of the bag. I can’t imagine how heavy they get in the rain. But that’s not the worst part. They’re small. They don’t expand to hold very many groceries. You’d wind up spending thirty dollars just to have enough bags. The string bags we used to use when I was a boy in England make more sense. And, from an “ecological” point of view, these “reusable” bags are disasters. They cost far more resources to make than paper or plastic bags. And you can’t just blithely reuse them. The neo-Puritans’ horror of germs is even more severe than their hatred of plastic. Every time a bit of chicken guts gets onto the canvas bag, or meat juice or ketchup, you’re going to have to wash it. And let’s face it, that’s going to be every trip to the store. So if you go shopping more than once a week – and who doesn’t? – you’re going to be doing extra washloads to accommodate your idiot canvas shopping bags. Just think of the soap and water expended that wouldn’t be necessary if you weren’t scared stiff to be seen by the president of the local Sierra Club coming out of Publix with groceries in plastic bags. And do you really want to carry all those ultra-expensive “organic” vegetables home in a bag with detergent residue in it? How sanpaku!!

All in all, from every point of view, the old guy on his deathbed in “The Graduate” was right. It’s “Plastics, my boy, plastics...”
Paying the cost to be the boss

Ever thought you'd like to be a boss? Janis Ian has a great article about being a boss in the music industry. Makes you think twice, but she also makes it seem like, if she could do it, so could you. I enjoyed it, I think you will, too.

See Nessie! See Nessie swim!

Want to keep a lookout for the Loch Ness Monster (known to us of Scottish ancestry as Nessie)? The Scotsman has a webcam that will let you pass time scanning the grey loch for whatever secret its deep cold water may hold. Recommended as an activity while sipping single malt. Are you listening, Dr. Rines?
Google news and an evanescent poster

Google has a news service now, here. I've checked it out and I'm quite impressed. It could be quicker than Drudge or Lucianne. And it tells you how long ago the article it links to was posted on the Web. I mean, where else could you get instant New Zealand v. Bangladesh cricket results? Search engines are changing our world.

Wolfram was offering a free poster for anyone who wrote a review of "A New Kind of Science". I was going to use my posts from earlier this summer to cadge a copy. It features the entire book micro-reduced onto a wall poster. Cool. But too late, again!! I'll keep looking, in case it shows up again.

The German election seems like a good result, oddly enough. The Lefties' majority is way down and the coming victory over Iraq will make them look like idiots, especially when we find all the German products going into So damn Insane's WMD apparatus. Anyone for Zyklon B, left over from a certain regrettable era?

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Don't smoke that stuff - you'll turn into an A-rab.

A lot of blogsters have been talking lately (Stephen den Beste, are you listening? And i flat refuse to capitalize the "d" in "den") about how different Arab Islamic cultures are from ours and how they must be defeated utterly in order to change. I have a different idea. Perhaps the real difference in our cultures stems from the choice of intoxicants. Mohammed forbade Muslims from using alcohol because he knew of the effects of alcohol on a civilization. But perhaps it is just those effects that makes modern Western society aggressive and forward-looking. Certainly alcohol is much more compatible with Western capitalist and Christian culture than is hashish or qat, the intoxicants allowed under Islam, by most interpretations.

Which reminds me, at the Cairo airport is a big sign "drug smuggling is punishable by death by hanging". Gets your attention. But then in the bazaars one sees old men sucking on hookahs and narjilahs, producing a smell that isn't tobacco. Like much of Arab culture, the reality differs from the public face. Rather than launching into a long discourse on the differential effects of alcohol and cannabis-like substances, I'll just suggest we try one experiment. Take an Arab state and introduce beer and whiskey big time, not just for the rich guys but for everyone. We can ban cannabinoids and qat if we want, but I don't think it will make much difference. In Western culture, even when cannabinoids were not illegal, alcohol dominated. I'd be willing to bet that within ten years that society would be optimistic, forward-looking, efficient and competitive. Perhaps the drug war in America is based on that insight. You smoke that ganja stuff, you turn into an A-rab, sitting around the hovel all day, listening to atonal music and casting longing glances at the camels. Drink beer and whiskey, you party, feel great for a few hours, wake up in the morning with a sore head and might as well go to work since you're going to be miserable until about five o'clock anyway.

If the combination of cheap booze, Baywatch and free love doesn't save the Arabs from their wretchedness, they're not worth worrying about. Just nuke 'em.