Paul From Minneapolis

Sunday, October 01, 2006


The Lift Bridge, over the canal leading from Lake Superior to the harbor. In this shot the lake is about a half-mile to the right:

From the top of the Spirit Mountain ski are, a few miles west of town. You're looking at the St. Louis River coming in from the right out of central northern Minnesota. It's one of the greatest walleye rivers in the country.

This one is too, focused a bit further east; the shot is of the Duluth harbor and some of Superior, Wisconsin.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Polling problems at CNN today: “Will you watch Katie Couric anchor the ‘CBS Evening News’?”

First of all, the only options offered are “yes” and "no.” I would guess most people would fall somewhere else on this question: like “Leave me alone, I refuse to put any thought into this whatsoever."

But let’s break down the 77% coerced “no” response. What does it really mean? Who’s included in it? Possibilities:

No – I don’t watch TV.
No – Since you’re forcing me to answer, I’ll just say “no” to convey general resistance.

No - CBS is all fuzzy on my TV.
No – I watch Seinfeld at 6:30.
No – I watch another network.
No – I don’t watch news.
No – I hate women.
No – I hate Katie Couric, and it’s kind of a long story.

And that’s only scratching the surface. It’s just so hard to trust polls, when you dig into them.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Sometimes things are just cool.

Like: "If the skies are clear as forecast, volcano watchers who turn out for the reopening of the Johnston Ridge Observatory on Friday will get a spectacular view of a hulking slab of rock that's rapidly growing in Mount St. Helens' crater...

"The fin-shaped mass is about 300 feet tall and growing 4 feet to 5 feet a day, said Dan Dzurisin, a geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey."

Cool photos, too.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

It's impressive to realize...

…that things we must do will be received by our haters as blatant and brutal.

Moussaoui’s mother:

"Now he is going to die in little doses," she said. "He is going to live like a rat in a hole. What for? They are so cruel."

Yeah, whatever. Nice "parenting job."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I'm a lowlife.

Which also happens to be a song I'm working on, so it's convenient.

Friday, April 21, 2006

I've had a week of posting other places again.

I also sang in public for just about the first time ever, just me and my lonesome guitar. Did middle-aged women throw bras and panties at me? No. At least not in a friendly way.

I'm here today; getting to know these local guys a bit. Always willing to grab an opportunity to expound. I said it before: like a fool for his dope and a drunkard his wine, a man will have lust for the lure of the mine...

Monday, April 17, 2006

“The main place I need to be more aggressive is with women. I take the "nice guy" concept to it's extreme.”

That's the Oklahoma cannibal on his blog. I guess he got over that.

Big Kerry supporter, which just means liberal doesn't necessarily equate to well-balanced. I mean sure, Jesus is a liberal, but then so is this guy.

Update to post below.

Let's revisit Katrina Vanden Heuvel:

"Bill Coffin, as his friends knew him..."

You know, that's actually pretty interesting. I would have assumed his friends knew him as "the Reverend William Sloane, Coffin, Jr." As in, "Hey, the Reverend William Sloane Coffin, Jr., we're all goin' to see the Mets, ya interested?" or "The Reverend William Sloan Coffin, Jr., seriously, you're parked behind me and I gotta get going now" or "Oh, I forgot to tell you, the Reverend William Sloane Coffin Jr., Katrina Vanden Heuvel says hello. Katrina. Vanden Heuvel. Hoi-vuhl. Works for The Nation. Whatever, she says hello."

But no, it was"Bill Coffin" to his friends, and actually it's not surprising at all. Bill was the godfather of Civil Disobedience; it'd just be weird - sort of pro-institutional or something - for a guy like that to insist on being called "the Reverend William Sloane Coffin, Jr." By everybody, all the time. (Although I'm sure there were cases he was tempted.)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Competing versions of William Sloane Coffin (dec.)

From Katrina Vanden Heuvel at The Nation’s blog:

Bill Coffin, as his friends knew him, was one of our greatest and most eloquent prophetic voices. For more than forty years, his passionate calls for peace, social justice, civil rights, and an end to nuclear insanity challenged this nation's conscience.

From Roger Kimball at “Armavirumque,” blog of The New Criterion:

Like other gurus of the period such as Herbert Marcuse, he pretended that American society was an oppressive battleground which could only be combated by "civil disobedience" (the phrase supplied the title for one of Coffins book) or even "revolutionary" activity. But as the legal scholar Alexander Bickel noted in 1970 (he was writing about Coffin and his colleagues), "to be a revolutionary in a society like ours, is to be a totalitarian, or not to know what one is doing."


From a Mark Steyn column in Nat'l Review

Subscription required:

As for the gals, I was startled in successive weeks to hear from both Dutch and English acquaintances that they’ve begun going out “covered.” The Dutch lady lives in a rough part of Amsterdam and says, when you’re on the street in Islamic garb, the Muslim men smile at you respectfully instead of jeering at you as an infidel whore. The English lady lives in a swank part of London but says pretty much the same thing. Both felt there was not just a physical but a psychological security in being dressed Muslim. They’re not “reverts,” but, at least for the purposes of padding the public space, they’re passing for Muslim in public."Europe is discovering it has no defense, should one be needed. Its fate might be up to the attitudes of the newer residents.

Me: Europe is discovering it has no defense, should one be needed. Its fate might be up to the attitudes of the newer residents.

Small point living up to honesty: Just wrote this as a comment over at Althouse, and thought: hey, post it.

Larger point about honesty: Most of the left's disdain for sources like National Review is based on the spin given issues that both sides cover. Needless to say I usually disagree with typical left-side put-downs like “dishonest” or “jingoist” or “hegemonistic” or “Cheney-like” or something. But what also attracts me to the conservative writers is their willingness to talk about a whole range of things the left rarely goes near. Like, you know, the situation in Europe. Which seems sort of important.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I'm back to thinking that AI is a great show.

After last night’s video visits back to the hometowns and family and homefolk, that is. They captured the show’s core, the semi-honest collision between deceitful, cruel cynical Hollywood and actual America.

Sentiment dripped from the rafters and from Kellie's "snot rag" last night, and it was all based in reality.

Of course Simon is crucial to the mix: his brutality and refusal to condescend during the actual competition (by never dropping his disgusting attitude towards humanity) is fascinating.

Not to slight the drunken or be-pilled or simply embarrassing Paula Abdul, who yet remains very hot, and gentle, and her alleged affair with a former contestant is just the nasty thing I like. Or Randy, who, you know, I never heard of before, and I don’t begrudge him his sturdy role here. And Ryan, sporadically hilarious – he’s good at reactions at times.

Over the course of four months we get a real nice view of energetic, trying-to-make-it-work America. Life can be rough, sometimes it’s kind; a real good life is hard to find. These brave contestants (you've got to give them that) and their families and towns seem up to the challenge.

It’s the time for sad farewells now, so good luck Bucky. Until last night I was not aware of the NASCAR abandoning Rockingham tragedy, which makes your dad so sad: “Now we got this great facility out there for nothin’.” You probably can’t do anything about that. I hope the town’s withdrawal from the brief high you provided isn’t too bitter.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

It's not a hoax!!

It's weird, though. The guys who snagged her are acting, given the whole situation, with some wisdom, it seems to me. (They're not gonna submit her for a record.)

More during the day.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Is this a hoax!!??!


25.1 pounds, supposedly. Caught, weighed - released!

This is so much bigger - almost 3 pounds more - than the current ancient record, which has long been the Holy Grail of fishing records; I’ll write more about it later. But this is like Bob Beamon at the '68 Olympics. It's completely absurd. If it’s true, this fellow “Mac Weakley” is rich. (That's not him holding the fish; it's his pal.)

Is it any kind of clue at all that the angler's name is so strikingly similar to the name of the newspaper at my alma mater? Seems a little odd. Although it would also be odd for my Minnesota college newspaper to be somehow involved.

The guy in the photo may be engaged that age-old trick of holding the fish close to the camera. Still, it's one hell of a bass.

Update: Weird story. She came from a tiny lake. (Monster bass are always “she.”) A select few have been aware of this specific bass for years. She's been caught twice, weighing more than 20 pounds both times. Now, she was spotted on her nest in mating season, meaning probably bloated further with eggs, and a couple different teams spent hours over two days casting to her specifically.

I would guess the average bass nesting spot is maybe three feet across: meaning we have here a fish lazing about in an area defined just about exactly by the diameter of your typical barrel.

Then, when caught, she was foul-hooked, which I think is illegal if done intentionally but which happens. (Foul-hooked means hooked other than in the mouth, like in the back or tail. It usually happens when a fish swipes and is missed, but the hook sets on the fish anyway. It's just considered less real, less sporting, although when you think about it, why? It’s just creepy somehow.)

Purposeful foul-hooking definitely disqualifies a fish from record consideration but it's unclear about accidental, which this definitely was.

It seems the fishermen made the right decision: let's release her and see what the reaction is. They may not actively pursue the record. I think they can fairly reliably verify the weight, by the way.

Of course now everyone in the world knows of this one bass. On a tiny lake. Weird.

Friday, March 17, 2006

"Crazy arms..."

"...that reach to hold... somebody new..."

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Do you we believe we should legalize polygamy?

So far today I've asked two co-workers that question, and the responses started with "Of course not" and moved on to "Good God no!"

If you fall into that instinctual range somewhere, then much-hated conservative Strib columnist Katherine Kersten says something worth listening to today. Katherine’s offerings often are not shall we say impregnably well-argued, but this one isn’t too bad.

It concerns gay marriage. It relates to the derided conservative perspective that legalizing gay marriage may lead to other societal changes.

Did you catch HBO's new prime-time series, "Big Love," which premiered Sunday? It's about a Utah man married to three wives.
The creators of "Big Love" are a gay couple, Mark Olsen and Will Scheffer, who say that the same-sex marriage debate spurred their interest in the topic.
They seek to normalize polygamy by treating it in a "non-judgmental" way.
"It's everything that every family faces, just times three," Olsen told Newsweek. "We'd like them to be America's next great family," Scheffer told the New York Times.

There are legal implications she touches on, too. Mr. and Mr. Olsen-Scheffer's series is not the only topic.

How many liberals upon reading this and considering the argument will decide hey – maybe polygamy isn’t so bad after all? When you think about it, it does offer a chance for their favorite indulgence. In fact it’s a moral imperative: when in doubt, tolerate.

I'm betting reader Steve will have something to say on this.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I didn't take this picture.

Wish I had, though. (Jonah G at the Corner found it somewhere; he doesn't say where.)

Quick update: I think this is simply a fake picture; I think this may be the original source, which seems to be a site specializing in fake pictures, going by some of the others in the same slide show. Perhaps Goldberg thought that was obvious, that it was a joke. If I'm any kind of guide to normal human reactions, maybe it isn't so obvious? I mean this is Howard Dean we're talking about. I can envision a situation where he might be handed a kitten on stage, and that is his normal facial expression. Seems plausible.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Grain and Railroads

(I should get a tripod, although those look okay small.)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Have I ever mentioned Joe Soucheray?

We're lucky to have him, here in the Twin Cities. Used to be a sports columnist; now he's a generalist. Knows what it means to write a column.

Patrick Reusse at the Strib is another one.

You can make an argument that Minnesota has been the best place to be a baseball fan, for some time now. One reason has been these guys, who have always written across the river from each other, but at one point traded papers. That was weird. In fact I think it was 1988, right after the first Series win. Combined with the chowder-headed Brunansky-Tommy Herr trade, it made for a lot of talk.

We'll see you tomorrow night.

(Update/instructions: Click to enlarge; then if you left-click the enlarged version a little box with arrows appears in the lower right, and if you click that the picture gets bigger yet. Allowing for reading of letters, if you want.)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Fort Snelling

The Marching Grounds today.

That's the Highland Park water tower in St. Paul in the distance.


Friday, March 03, 2006

One problem with discussion board dialog... that nearly everybody thinks they're smarter than everyone else. (Which gets to be a particularly frustrating problem for those who actually are.)

A Trip to Milles Lacs

Late afternoon on the lake: the famous ice-fishing scene at Milles Lacs.
Many trucks.
From the casino hotel window.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

“Death before dhimmitude.”

That’s expressed in a comment below this post, one of many you'll see concerning a new "intellectuals’ Manifesto against Islamism."

They're mostly Muslim intellectuals, or at least semi-Muslim, so that's good. The Manifesto's not long yet it’s complex: there are turns of phrase that could point back at the US, for instance. But essentially, it’s all about pointing clearly at the modern Great Enemy of the morally serious. (Other than me, that is.)

“Death before dhimmitude," though: that’s interesting. I imagine I know people who won’t sign up for that.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Everything I write seems offensive to Muslims

At least potentially, to some Muslims. I guess it's just a new form of writer's block! I'm sure I'll get past it.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Thank God I'm on line again

What are you to do if you have bad erection? Especially in the forthcoming Saint Valentines Day???
Don t worry, it is not the last of pea-time...
The most simple way is to visit our site, order the medication and that is all you are to do!
Do not kill the clock!

(Frankly, I'm not sure what that last line means. )
(I'll give this e-mail to my boss so she can see how the use of multiple question marks should be reserved for the most spectacular and intense queries. "What time is the meeting????" by comparison look ridiculous. Save it for the big stuff. The medically-assisted big stuff, but still.)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

"We Can't"

Usually means "we won't," when you're dealing with a monopoly business like a city government or - in this case - a local cable company refusing to give you back your old modem (the one that works) that they commanded you to turn in because they're phasing it out, see, so they "can't" give it back to you. You must use this new modem (the one that doesn't work). You must forget your old modem (which works).

But there it is. I can see it. Give it to me. No - "we can't."

The company in question is Time-Warner, by the way. I in turn command all my reader(s) to cease doing business with Time-Warner.

This is being written at the library.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


The Strib's main editorial today: a group of people choosing the skin-saving path on the cartoons for a host of rational reasons somehow also feeling the need - which they are unable to suppress - to call the European editors "stupid."

The journalists printing the cartoons to make a statement about standing up to murderous violence and threats. The editors needing protection, in a situation where lives will be lost (it's a fairly safe bet): they're all racist and stupid. "Ignorant," too - "equally ignorant" as the shrieking crowds driven mad by cartoons, spurred on by leaders who seem from my appallingly ignorant perspective to be somewhat evil.

Very attractive, guys. And a classic of Wormtongue-ism. (Read the whole thing.)

Update: This isn't about press freedom.

The words of EU Justice and Security Minister Franco Frattini in an interview with the DailyTelegraph (via the Corner):

"The press will give the Muslim world the message: We are aware of the consequences of exercising the right of free expression," he told the newspaper. "We can and we are ready to self-regulate that right."

That's not a criticism of the proposal by an outraged and amazed person, as I assumed when I read it out of context at the Corner. Nope. That's a straightforward description of the plan by a bureaucrat behind it.

Frattini, a former Italian foreign minister, said millions of Muslims in Europe felt "humiliated" by the cartoons.

Can't have that. Must not allow suggestions of a connection between Islam and terror. That may humiliate Muslims. And you are so stupid if you think press freedom comes into play here.

This is a test.

What does it look like to have no headline?

Monday, February 06, 2006

I'll post something at some point and in the meantime...

...the Star-Trib today has a guest commentary from a "freelance writer from Brooklyn Park" named Fedwa Wazwaz. I may not be up to an entire critique; I was however struck by this little throwaway:

"Islamic teachings forbid the depiction of any prophet (including Biblical prophets) as a measure against idolatry and racism -- even positive portrayals. "


It's that use of word "forbid," combined with how totally whacked-out seriously many Muslims seem to take the word "forbid" that has me going "hm. " And wondering what a local newspaper may do, for example, when a Muslim reader or employee says, you know, showing images of Christ really, really offends my sensibilities.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Today's CNN poll easily the most boring one I have ever seen: “Has your computer ever been affected by a worm or virus?” - “Yes, severely.” Yes, but it wasn’t too bad.” “No.” With the answers distributed like you might think.

Why in God’s name am I supposed to care about this? I don’t work for an anti-virus company’s market research division. Do I? It’s exactly as interesting as “Have you ever had an alternator go out on you”” or “Have you ever had shower grout that became stained sooner than it should have” or “How frequently does your kitchen light fixture become littered with dead moths?” In fact that last one is more interesting to me. Does this happen to other people? Do they clean them out? Or if I asked them if their light fixtures ever became filled with dead moths would they say yes, but it wasn’t too bad? (That’s my attitude.)

A message I just sent the reader rep at the Strib

"Any talk down there about being the first US paper to join and support its European colleagues on the cartoon issue? I mean is anyone arguing it as a thing to consider?"

I wonder if it's a talk occurring at any paper stateside, in fact. They talk a lot about courage in these editorial offices: the courage to stand up to this and that. So I'm betting there may even be a race developing, to be the first one to be so courageous.

Is there a chance there is some slight philosophical movement or awakening?

(Note: An aggressive friend has pointed out a typo pleasing to him. I'm leaving it. I like it.)

Jonah Goldberg visits Madison (via Ann A.) and maybe I’m being optimistic and I wasn’t there. But I sense from this kind of grudging respectful coverage (here and other cases) there’s a chance that "willingness to listen to conservatives" could become a new outré. It seems like it would offer a natural cool to stake a clam to Ann Coulter, say.

It’s the left’s Achilles Heel: in the contexts in which it rules, it is the Dogma. The generalized (as in not universal, but frequent and subtly omnipresent) insistence that there is NOTHING to be found in the anti-Dogma is crushingly silly, almost by definition, and in fact the very concept of pure correctness existing only on one side is antithetical to what they say they stand for.

So they’re teetering whether they know it or not. And this is something that goes beyond elections and such.

The most closed and defended of them are still beyond approach, of course. The point is to scrape away at the margins. Then, one day, maybe, even the hardest of the hard-core, the Kos Kids of All Ages, the Ritualized Condemners all over, will be hit by a blazing sunbeam emerging from behind clouds like a scene out of Bonanza and cry: "Forgive us oh Lord, we are acting like complete idiots!"

Hint: It relates to Ann Coulter and items some might find it rewarding to affix to her an unorthodox manner.

"Mr. Boehner... paging Mr. Boehner...."

(Haven't yet seen a handy phonetic pronunciation guide in this specific case, is the point.)

I suppose they call him "Congressman Boehner" though. The Honorable Mr. Boehner? That's good. Could do a movie - "Mr. Boehner Goes to Washington." That'd work. "Let us all rise to applaud the fine work of Mr. Boehner." That would be toward the end of course.

Update: At New Repubic online today: "Boehner: Disaster for Dems?"

Update 2: John Boehner is the new House majority leader in case you're a normal person and don't know. "John 'Dick' Boehner" is the only name-hint I've seen, which make no sense at all.)

I met a gin-soaked bar room queen in Memphis

That’s a strong first line. Heard it this morning.

I was in a band once and my pal the lead singer would sing it. Believe me, I was more than glad to stand safely in back of him playing my trademark stinging lead riffs. Because had I been required to sing that I'd met a gin-soaked bar room queen in Memphis, well, it wouldn’t have been as convincing. No you didn’t, would be the reaction. You may have met a gin-soaked sophomore Feminist Studies major at O’Gara’s, but you would not have tried to take her upstairs for a ride. Whether you wanted to or not would be immaterial. It would not have happened. Correct? So what are you singing about, actually? Shouldn't you be singing, "I wish I was the kind of guy who could just once meet a gin-soaked bar room queen in Memphis? Or at least be able to pretend convincingly it had happened?"

Steve, on the other hand: here’s a guy who has successfully met gin-soaked bar room queens – definitely at O’Gara’s, probably in Memphis and all points in between.

I’ve watched it. Amazing. The way he would shiver his way out the January door, slipping and sliding the six blocks down Snelling Avenue toward the dorm, gin-soaked prize in tow, and I'm very confident there was some "upstairs" action (he lived on the 4th floor) at least fully intended.

It's the attempt that matters. "Tried" to take her upstairs for a ride. That's the boast and it's worthy. I would argue.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Here's how I'm spending my day

“Homophobia, ableism, sexism and oppression of women undergird our society.”

I didn't write that. It's from some guidelines for a foundation. It states reality well, doesn't it? Yet I note with sadness that "ableism" is still flagged by Microsoft's spell-check. When will we have Justice, oh Lord.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006


For those irritated at my descriptions of Ted yesterday (and I don't know that there are any): there's yet another update to the post.


I wonder sometimes if it says anything about liberalism that its main iconic family can be fairly charged with starting our major Viet Nam involvement, attempting to assassinate foreign leaders (using Mob ties), and sharing sexmates with said Mob ties. Among other things.

Because the first two in that list are iconic in themselves: Viet Nam and covert acts against foreign leaders are both way high up on the America's Sins list. And Kennedys are neck-deep in them.

A willingness to focus on myth and words rather than reality and actions? A tendency to believe that words and the right feel are really what matter?

They'd probably point out similar inconsistencies in conservative heroes.

I do still maintain that RFK's assassination was a low point in recent American history, though. And as can be overlooked, it was also our first direct run-in with Islamic terror's basic message of "Pay attention to meeee!"

On the way home from Rochester last Thursday

I took more snapshots, too; of geese, for example. Maybe I'll post those someday soon.
(This is the first in what may become The Windshield Series.)

Monday, January 30, 2006

I Can't Find Any Good Photos From Night of the Living Dead

Which means I can't really do a post I was musing about concerning Howard Dean's approach to fundraising and organizing the base, as described and defended here by the great and powerful Kos himself.

For some reason I first saw that post in what's called "Ted Kennedy's Diary." It's still there, down from the top now.

Interesting spot. I see a bunch of stuff not written by Ted Kennedy, on a quick check. Exclusively. So I don't get the "Ted Kennedy's Diary" nomenclature. Are these items Ted Kennedy likes? Things it seems he might like? When he himself writes in his Diary, is it all material that needs to be deleted immediately?

Update: I first entered that dizzying Kos world today via an article by Ted himself, concerning Alito. That link does not direct one to Ted Kennedy's Diary. However it does include a link to the aforementioned Ted Kennedy's Diary which seems, now that I examine more carefully, simply to be the regular old front page of The Daily Kos, with Kennedy's name incorporated into the link.

I think of Ted Kennedy as existing in a heartbroken, why-can't-I-drink-again fog. I assume his staff leads him around like an aging once-grand Neapolitan Mastiff; I assume his staff consists of Kos-folk. Maybe they get to tell him he has a Diary and he thinks it's cool.

Update 2: Or I'm missing how it all works. Is there a grand revolution developing and I'm a square? Do I know something's happening here and I don't know what it is, do I Mister Me? That'd sure suck. Especially if I'm a pathetic, out-of-it losersaurus as compared to Ted Kennedy. Ouch!

Update 3: I refer to TK as existing in a "heartbroken, why-can't-I-drink-again fog." I've received no complaints but I got to considering.

When I say "heartbroken," I don't mean simply because he can't drink, although that's by no means excluded. I mean heartbroken for all the reasons one could muster when looking back at his life. Some empathy is due - of course. Really weird parents, for one thing. How many of us have - as one of our last memories of a lucid father - watching his withered elderly hands as they grope a bare-chested hooker at one more Rose-free Hyannis Port gathering?

(I'll have to find the cite for that.)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Today's CNN Poll

Do you believe that Saddam Hussein can get a fair trial in Iraq?

Yes – 44% - 30306
No – 56% - 38007

Okay then, we definitely need to change the venue. To escape undue American influence, yes, and to find a jury pool untainted by damaging pre-trial publicity. Fair's fair after all.

It is Taboo

In the ‘no WMDs’ reality, the new gospel says Hussein didn’t have as much control as we thought. The regime was built on such fraud and fear and decay that his own scientists were lying back to him. And you know, it makes sense. Except maybe it’s bullshit. When it comes to Gospel truths on Iraq, we’ve had several of them go away and disappear over the years.

With that in mind, here’s an Iraqi Air Force general saying the WMDs got sent to Syria in a quite organized fashion. (via Right Wing Nut House)

Things we know for sure: It’s completely a possibility. There’s probably no way to know, and we’ll very likely never know. And, it’s considered bad form even to bring up in polite company.

I think. Is that me projecting? Yet it feels like it'd be naughty to offer it to the circles I frequent. How dare I conjecture so wildly that maybe W wasn't wrong, is not a liar, that sort of thing. At long last have I no shame. But I’d say – off the top of my head – there’s a chance in three at the very least that’s exactly what happened.

And that's the way it is.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


When I was a young boy, during the madness for secret agents that swept the nation in the wake of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.", for a couple years Christmas catalogs featured "attache cases." With real hidden cameras! I really wanted one. My plan, I explained, was to hang out at the bank uptown during my summers and wait for a robber, point my briefcase at him and get his picture. He would never suspect!

That is not why we purchased a digital camera now. Not in the slightest. This morning, I was just cruising looking for more Art. I drove past a park in Richfield, hard up against Highway 62, the Crosstown. There's a lake there, and a path, and I'd always been curious. It seems so quaint and hopeful, with the freeway and the landing path and all.

See that guy on the left-hand side of the pier?

That's a video camera he's pointing skyward. I'm sure it was nothing. Seriously. Jet-watching is a Richfield hobby. But just for a second, my 9-year-old heroic tendencies well up inside me...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

I Wrote This Over At Althouse part of this string, but hey, it's not too bad.

(Like Robert Benchley said, it is possible for a man to accomplish almost anythng as long it is not the thing he is supposed to be doing at any given moment. That's how I've been using comments at other blogs, like my self-proclaimed triumph over Jazon Zenglere at the TNR blog, referred to here.) (This technique of actually getting something done will last only so long as my stubborn inner self doesn't realize what's going on, so: shhh.)

Ann's topic is William Blum, the author of "Rogue State," the book about the U.S.A. that Osama recommended late last week, and how he's reacted to that endorsement:"I'm not repulsed and I am not going to pretend I am."


I think it's a step toward clarity in our politics.

He firmly believes eveything he writes in the book. He firmly believes a man like Osama bin Laden embodies an understandable reaction to our depravities. (I'm slightly speculating with that second one.) For him to repudiate bin Laden utterly would be to say: "Whatever our past depravities, they do not come close to having us deserve what bin Laden says we deserve."

And he doesn't believe that to be so goddamn obviously the case.

I've thought for some time the left's problem is an inability to really own up to and openly talk about the implications of their own beliefs. Yet openly investigating and talking abour depravities is probably something we should do.

For one thing, it would tell us some things about ourselves that we should know, and tell people who don't really know the details of the mistakes we've made and the patterns we sometimes fall into.

And confronting these issues direcly will slowly tug interpretation of these events away from the monopoly domain of the intellectual left, and will gradually build the number of people who understand it is more than possible to be aware of these depravities and still suspect that OBL's recommended treatment is, well, too harsh. And should be repudiated. More than repudiated: actually, wow, resisted with enthusiasm.

I know the author is a morally unbound fool; most commenters here know that; too much of the country suspects it but doesn't have a strong answer for the banshees who agree with him.

Bring it on.

(I added 'with him' at the end and corrected a couple spelling errors.)

Everyone's on the lake flying kites today

It's an attraction of some sort.

I don't think it has any anti-war connotations. (Big puppets around here do rather often; I wonder if big kites get coopted the sameway.)

This one was actually just a big odd bird or sky-creature that happened by and left pretty quickly:

No one really noticed though; they were all pointing at their amazing kites.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The ACLU accomplishes the nearly impossible

Yesterday and again today, at Salon, the ad they force on a potential reader (you know, some guy who by dint of existing and owning a computer is equipped with a limitless supply of equally interesting, free, no-hassle options) is sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union.

I think I've figured out how to save and link to it, here. It may die after today, though, in which case... well, I'll deal with it. (Note: It's dead. Keep reading.)

The message of the ad is to force the liberal readers of Salon, who may never have thought of it before, to realize that W is a liar, and should be impeached. The ad does this by first supplying us with a lie by Richard Nixon, concerning Watergate; and then what they call a lie by W, concerning the NSA issue.

Of course there could be debate about W's statement.

But you'd think, wouldn't you, that the ACLU - our go-to juggernaut on all things civil liberties - would be able to dig through their files on Nixon and Watergate and come up with a statement that was in fact an undeniable lie?

I think they managed to avoid that. I think they picked out the one statement by Nixon on the whole affair that was actually true. (Note: It's a statement that he didn't know about the break-in beforehand, and he didn't, unless I'm wrong and I don't think I am.)

Am I missing what they're up to here? Or should I hesitate before sending them my gigantic check (that being the actual point of the ad, of course).

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I have learned something

Most women don't like looking at big photos of urinals. I guess that shouldn't be surprising to me. But they shy away. When prompted to "enlarge" an already large photo, of a urinal that is, many do not.

Men seem more at ease with the topic. I've been encouraged to go with even more photos of urinals, if possible. Would it be viable to have an entire site of wry urinal-based humor? Of course it would. We are entering a new world of pure freedom because of the internet, says the formidable John Perry Barlow, who is evidently out of jail. (If in fact he was ever in jail; see the link over there on the right under "These are okay.")

Whatever's the case, I'm glad to see John Perry Barlow back in the game. Hadn't seen him in a while. He used to be a very occasional Grateful Dead lyricist, see. A good friend of Bob Weir. A hippie cowboy sort then; a globe-trotting visionary (I take it) now. Still a stoner. Freak freely, my friend.

He does worry about the abundance of "really cheesy porn" on the internet and perhaps urinals would fit that category. Still I wonder: when he refers to really cheesy porn, is he claiming that internet porn specifically is overwhelmingly really cheesy, in marked contrast to more subtle forms that came previously? Or is he assuring us that all porn is really cheesy - we should have no doubt whatsoever that this is how John Perry Barlow feels about the matter?

So either he's firmly and clearheadedly opposed to any porn, unafraid to declare all of it really cheesy; or he's an opinionated and disappointed porn afficionado. (Writing can be so tricky.)

Monday, January 16, 2006

We bought a digital camera

It's fun!

I don't know how those will look on other people's computers. I have a monitor that accentuates the dark side of things, so I brightened the originals with the Canon software that came with the camera.

I stopped in a bar to borrow one of the rooms they have there, and was impressed with the high set of morals I found.

(Click to enlarge.)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

What's the matter with me?

I ain’t got much to say. Except I do. Only I’ve been saying it other places, other comment strings. I admit: against stiff advice from confidantes who say it is bad for me and a waste of time, I keep trying to talk directly with “the left.” Like a fool for his dope or a drunkard his wine, a man will have lust for the lure of the mine, evidently.

Still, I salute all the commenters I’ve encountered at a New Republic blog called "The Plank." I linked to it below, specifically to Jason Zengerle’s initial skeptical response to Stephen Haye’s recent volley on Hussein and terrorism, and the discussion following.

It’s not a bad string, actually. It ended up featuring me and an agreeable guy disagreeing. We succeeded at talking. It was win-win! And perhaps even excellent.

(You have to hit the comments link to see all the comments, but that makes the original post disappear. So I’m sending you to the original post first, where they confusingly include the final three comments; then if you want to read all 42 comments (and you do) you have to hit the comments link. Got it? Watches synchronized? Go.)

Then a little later Zengerle wrote another post, and it was as if he wasn’t even listening, and that got me going again. Maybe a little aggressively, in fact that also was true of the first one; but his tone got to me.

This one ended up being mostly a back and forth with him. The theme was context: the context of "how to think about various sorts of terrorist connections Hussein had."

An exchange from the first string:

A brief response to paulchap: I'm not retreating on the Hussein-terrorist connection question. There clearly were connections. (Me: !!) The question is, were those connections significant enough to go to war over? The whole point of Hayes's crusade is to prove that they were. I don't think he's proven that.

Me (after reflection):
Hayes' point is not to insist that the terrorist connections were themselves sufficient for war. His point is to deny the left-side catechism that these connections were trivial, laughable, deserving of no place in a case for war. And to my thinking, what you concede is enough to accomplish that.

We returned to that in the second string. I tugged him closer to me than vice-versa. Is that too aggressive to claim that? I guess it’s just the beast in me.

I sent the first string to Hayes via his editors to see what he thought. I’ll take his silence as “it’s perfect.” (I’m kidding, he wrote back and as usual with these conservative-type guys, he’s friendly as can be.)

I’m not saying I tossed a no-no or anything.

Update: Someday soon I'll organize some thoughts I notice droppping out of my head and puddling around my feet concerning why this seems such a central topic to me. Zengerle and others try to call it trivial, at least my approach to it. In this case, Howard Johnson is wrong. (I hope.)

Update 2: I believe now you don't need to be a subscriber to read The Plank. Could be wrong about that.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Could someone please tell me not to worry about this?

Oh, thank you, Victor Davis Hanson, thank you so bloody much:

"Experts warn that we are not talking about a Clintonian one-day cruise-missile hit, or even something akin to General Zinni’s 1998 extended Operation Desert Fox campaign. Rather, the challenges call for something far more sustained and comprehensive — perhaps a week or two of bombing at every imaginable facility, many of them hidden in suburbs or populated areas. Commando raids might need to augment air sorties, especially for mountain redoubts deep in solid rock...

"Politically, the administration would have to vie with CNN’s daily live feeds of collateral damage that might entail killed Iranian girls and boys, maimed innocents, and street-side reporters who thrust microphones into stretchers of civilian dead. The Europeans’ and American Left’s slurs of empire and hegemony would only grow...."

Hm. Well, still, once we bite the bullet and take care of this little situation, then everything can return to normal, and we can all enjoy the coming summer - I'm planning on all kinds of fishing on the St. Croix! - and gradually the natural serenity that still defines American existence will -

"Economically, we should factor in the real possibility that Iranian oil might be off the global market, and prepare — we have been here before with the Iranian embargo of 1979 — for colossal gasoline price hikes. This should also be a reminder that Ahmadinejad, Saddam, Hugo Chavez, and an ascendant and increasingly undemocratic Putin all had in common both petrodollar largess and desperate Western, Chinese, and Indian importers willing to overlook almost anything to slake their thirst. Unless we develop an energy policy that collapses the global oil price, for the next half-century expect every few years something far creepier than the Saudi Royals and Col. Moammar Gadhafi to threaten the world order..."

Oh, stop it.

Here's what I keep returning to: the Star-Tribune, Newspaper of the Twin Cities, recently published an editorial in which the normally quite avoidant writers stated that Iran "cannot be allowed" to have a nuclear weapon.

Obviously, I'm not insanely predicting that these same editors will be actually willing to back that up once it comes time to deal with it. It'll be a lot easier to pretend that the "international community" will prevent the thing that "cannot" occur. Or would have, had the demented W not gone all cave troll on the situation.

But if their still-hypothetical resolve actually does represent something we nearly all agree to: Hanson's Hell will be our choice, right?

So far, I am not overly fond of this young century. Can we have a mulligan?

In the interests of posting...

...let me just point out that the Twins' pitchers and catchers show up in Ft. Myers just 36 days from today.

I think I'll spend this weekend perfecting my knuckle ball - well, learning how to throw it and then perfecting it - and head down and see if I can catch on. I mean come on, there is the grand tradition of really old, really out of shape knuckle ball artists, right? I'm two-thirds of the way there already!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

“Pawlenty, Twins talking stadium.”

That’s the main headline at the Strib site right now.

The ongoing struggle to build a news Twins park to replace the hapless Metrodome is of course a local story. I may try to do more of those. (Tim Pawlenty is our governor, for those who don’t know. He has Presidential dreams, a fact which enters into this tale.)

The underlying tension is that plenty of politicians want it to happen, but no one wants to take the responsibility to “step to the plate” and say: “Look, I know any new tax would fail in any referendum, and I don’t care. I believe it should happen anyway. So no vote, fuckers. We're gonna ram through a funding plan, and you'll take and like it.”

If Tim's looking for a moral justification for such a path, here’s one:

There aren’t two bodies of opinion, there are three. There’s the left demagogy that says “no corporate welfare, baseball is sick and should fix itself first.” There’s the right demagogy that says “no new taxes, especially since baseball is sick and should fix itself first.”

To me, those are distinct groups. Thus a vote on any supporting tax would have no chance because the third group, the reasonable center (that’s me) would be demagoged by two ends, rather than just one, which is more typical. It's like facing two spit-ballers simultaneously.

So if Pawlenty says screw it, let’s do it, he can say he’s siding with one of three groups, meaning naturally his view represents only a plurality. What he’s not doing, clearly, is forcing through a minority view against the wishes of an outraged majority.

Get it? What could possibly go wrong with that explanation?

Maybe I’ll describe the reasonable center in more detail at some point. As usual, it has to do with reality, and in this case with the “baseball is sick” premise, which is what joins the strains of idealists on the ends.

Update: New headline: "Twin stadium deal elusive; 'Dynamics have to change.'"

"Nothing was decided today at all," said Jerry Bell, a team spokesman.... Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat said that while the meeting was cordial, both the county and the Twins are wary of pushing ahead with another stadium plan, given opposition at the Legislature. But, he added, "We would like to do something that eventually results in a new ballpark."

The key to this, of course, is the word "eventually."

I have nothing to add on Alito

Update: Ann Althouse does, though. She's good on this lawyer stuff, it's her strength. Specifically, analyzing conservative reasoning honestly.

It's such a bracing enterprise, letting yourself entertain such thoughts. It's like a mental "'Llllectric Shave!!!"

(I'd provide a link for that last reference but evidently the Williams 'Lectric Shave company has forsworn the web. The only references are in customer reviews of various electric shavers, leading me to think the substance is still manufactured and sold; some people also like it for other purposes.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I'm Not Gone

I'm sitting in the corner of the dark tavern now, nearly invisible in my earthen green cloak, my long legs crossed in front of me, a thin stream of smoke rising to the ceiling from the pipe I smoke pensively.... I've been gone, and now I'm back, from where no one knows and no one cares to ask. "Longshanks," some call me. "Strider," say others, and my friends are few.

Yeah, okay. Anyway, seems to me there are two major stories right now: actually, one major and one super major.

The pretty big one is the resurgence of stories regarding "The Connection:" the connection, that is, between Hussein and international Islamic terrorism. Stephen Hayes and others at The Weekly Standard have been dogged on it, and they seem to be on to something. Here's the first volley, from late last week; and here's an update today.

For anyone with a subscription to The New Republic, here's Jason Zengerle's skeptical response, followed by a discussion string invaded enthusiastically by a fellow evidently called Paul.

The super big story is Iran. Here's a discussion that'll have you shaking.

Friday, December 23, 2005

I'm Gone

Like a steam locomotive, rolling down the track. One of those situations where someone left a steam locomotive untended on a slight incline and now it's rolling down the track toward the company president's parked El Dorado.

In the world of viral marketing my own little virus is still deep in the jungle, making its way from monkey to monkey. Nevertheless, I have reason to suspect there are a couple more monkeys dimly aware of my existence.

This post I like, or suspect may be useful if you give a rat's ass. (Wouldn't that be an interesting currency.) And this one. And the stuff under "these are okay" on the right. They're kicking me off the compu -

Update: The "they" kicking off the computer were the librarians in a tiny town in far southern Wisconsin. My allotted 30 minutes were gone; the next blogger was waiting. I realized I hadn't made that clear.

Now I'm definitely gone, for real this time, since the only computer available belongs to my mother-in-law; her already painfully slow dial-up is further bogged down by an endless stream of pop-ups offering on-line gambling opportunities - like the one that just arrived from (Was it really such a good idea to get her this computer? I have to wonder.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Now read this and weep.

For different reasons, sadly:

I'm not feeling optimistic today. It feels like the descent into chaos that many anti-war people have long foretold and I feared from the beginning may be just around the corner.

Maybe they're just going through a phase...

Immediate update: In quick reading of reports, it seem possible that one of the main worries is that we are in fact seeing massive tampering from Iran, with the help of its allies in Iraq.

Update Later: The same fellow seems to have regained some anger and stubbornness.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Read It and Weep

That's what I did, anyway. John F. Burns is a solid reporter from the NYT; he's gone from optimism to, generally, pessimism or sadness since 2003. Yet here he is today (registration required but not payment):

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 15 - Ali is only 9 years old. But when he and his buddies broke away from a street soccer game to drop into a polling station in Baghdad's Adhamiya district at noon on Thursday, Ali, a chirpy, tousle-haired youngster, seemed to catch the mood of the district's Sunni Arab population as well as anybody.

"We don't want car bombs, we want security," he said. Yards away, Sunni grown-ups were casting ballots in classrooms where the boys would have been studying Arabic or arithmetic or geography - "Boring, boring!" said Ali - had the school not been drafted for use as one of 6,000 polling stations across Iraq.

On a day when the high voter turnout among Sunni Arabs was the main surprise, Ali and his posse of friends, unguarded as boys can be, acted like a chorus for the scene unfolding about them. A new willingness to distance themselves from the insurgency, an absence of hostility for Americans, a casual contempt for Saddam Hussein, a yearning for Sunnis to find a place for themselves in the post-Hussein Iraq - the boys' themes were their parents', too, only more boldly expressed.

Adhamiya, on the east bank of the Tigris River, only a 10-minute drive from the heart of Baghdad, has been so much in the insurgents' grip that American military helicopters have avoided flying overhead for most of the past 33 months. But as whole families gathered to walk neighborhood streets on the way to the polls, and with turnouts at some voting centers surpassing 60 percent barely halfway through the voting day, Sunnis -young, old and in-between, prosperous and middle-class and unemployed, merchants and tribal sheiks and schoolteachers - seemed to relish the chance to take part.

"Happy days!" said Salim Saleh, a 52-year-old government official, finding a few remembered words of schoolboy English.

And it goes on from there. The headline: "Freedom from Fear Lifts Sunnis in Iraqi Election."

There are caveats; nothing's guaranteed. But for those who proclaim with certainty that the Iraqis, especially the Sunnis, will never be able to own this supposed revolution we've forced on them: maybe not. But maybe.

For at least as long as the insurgent pullback to allow the Sunni voting lasted, people in the district seemed freed from intimidation, and the recurrent references to this sense of freedom reflected it.

"Before, we had a dictator, and now we have this freedom, this democracy," said Emad Abdul Jabbar, 38, a teacher acting as supervisor at the Ahrar school polling site. "This time, we have a real election, not just the sham elections we had under Saddam, and we Sunnis want to participate in the political process."

There I go again.

Update: It ain't just me. Mickey Kaus: John Burns' interactive report from Iraq... is the best thing I've seen on the Web today. It's highly informative (i.e. about Ambassador Khalilzad's preferences in a government) and if you can get through it without tearing up you're tougher than I am....

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Chaos in the Internet Revenue World

Today's day pass to enter Salon Premium requires watching a very long ad for TimeSelect. Okay. How long can an an economy last when it's based on revenue-expelling enterprises advertising on each other?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A Miracle at the Star-Tribune

There’s a frequent guest columnist at the Strib named Syl Jones, an African American, a “playwright, journalist and corporate communications consultant.” I’ve never seen one of his plays, because I don’t really go to plays. Nothing against plays, just a fact.

Syl is someone who gets on my wrong side frequently. Like one time he referred to KFAN, 1130-AM, my favorite station, as an "asylum" where there are "inmates" in charge. I took that personally. I like sports. I like listening to other guys talk about sports. To me that’s good fun. Does that mean I belong in an "asylum?" I ask you.

Usually Syl’s a victim-think sermonizer, as I referred to him over at Ann’s site in a comment and that got me going here. But today he writes about Tookie Williams and surprise, surprise, surprise comes down hard on the side of: the man deserved to be executed. And Syl actually delves deeper into underlying and related issues:

"It is fashionable to decry the death penalty as cruel and unusual punishment, as barbaric and even medieval. This is part of modern society's unfortunate propensity to delay or completely obliterate the laws of natural consequences. Endless pleadings -- sickness, extenuating circumstances, born under a bad sign and the devil made me do it -- benefit lawyers and civil libertarians in search of new causes. It makes suckers of the rest of us. Where is Ramsey Clark when you really need him? In Iraq defending another "innocent" named Saddam Hussein, or surely he'd be in Sacramento pleading for Tookie."

Believe me, that's most un-Syl-like. Is it possible that constant harping from harpies like me actually begins to have a mysterious effect, on individuals, on the zeitgeist? “I wish I was a mole in the ground, if I was a mole in the ground I’d root that mountain down:” heck, maybe that approach works.


The previous post, offered up impetuously, is something written a week or so ago as a prospective stand-up line. Delivered by me with my trademark knowing twinkle, it just may work. It's frosting on the cake that it actually works as a summary of domestic politics.

The one before indicates something of what Bob Dylan believed in 1960 about people passionately protesting the execution of a guy like Caryl Chessman. It reads to me like he didn't quite understand it, though in the telling he makes sure not to slam his old friend too hard. What does he mean by Chandler being "fearless:" fearless for thinking the requested song was possible, or fearless for realizing it might not be, or both? (The fact that Bob tells the story now may mean his bafflement remains.)

Democrats Say, Republicans Say

The Democrats say, the rich are increasingly dominated by greedy, plundering hyper-capitalists who care for nothing but lining their own pockets and walling themselves off from the growing hordes of exploited minimum-wage workers; either that, or they’re the decadent offspring of long-gone profiteers, even more desperate to maintain their completely undeserved lives of gluttony and empty pleasures.

The Republicans say: You just don’t understand ‘tough love,’ do you?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Old Footprints

From "Chronicles," the Bob Dylan autobiography, which is great in a way that will support many readings:

One guy who kept reappearing in the news was Caryl Chessman, a notorious rapist whom they called the Red-Light Bandit. He was on death row in California after being tried and convicted of raping young women. He had a creative way of doing it - strapped a flashing red light to the top of his automobile and then pulled the girls over to the side of the road, ordering them out, hauling them into the woods, robbing and raping them. He'd been on death row for quite a while making appeal after appeal, but his last appeal had been final and he was scheduled to go into the gas chamber. Chessman had become a cause célèbre and luminaries had taken up his plight. Norman Mailer, Ray Bradbury, Aldous Huxley, Robert Frost, even Eleanor Roosevelt were calling for his life to be spared. An anti-death penalty group had asked Len (Chandler, a friend) to write a song about Chessman.

"How do you write a song about a pariah who rapes young women, what would be the angle?" he asked me me as if his imagination was actually on fire.

"I don't know, Len, I guess you'd have to build it slowly... maybe start with the red lights."

Len never did write that song, but I think someone else did. One thing about Chandler was that he was fearless...

Friday, December 09, 2005

"Two well-educated middle-aged white women talk about current events."

Not with each other. They’re thousands of miles apart, in fact. Separated by an ocean.

The first well-educated woman is named Samantha Smart. She’s a local. She recently ran for Minneapolis Library Board and very narrowly missed out on the top six. That would have elected her to one of the at-large seats in a contest where maybe 210 people in the city actually follow it.

Here’s a sample of her writing, a rambling (long, anyway) letter to the editor in a small but not very influential community newspaper:

“A correct and logical analysis would tell us that based on genocide, slavery and sexism, the entire economic, social and political systems of this country have always been corrupt and rotten to the core, and no election that will merely substitute one white man for another, without actually transforming the capitalism, imperialism, white supremacy and patriarchy that we live under now into an entirely new configuration, will constitute any REAL gain. Nader was right when he said there was no real difference between the democrats and republicans (they are all paid lackeys of the corporate elites), but he was not ready to present any radical transformative scenario either and therefore was still a subscriber to the basic capitalist, white supremacist and patriarchal regime we are forced to endure.”

Plus she really knows the Dewey decimal system. Meanwhile, over in Great Britain, there’s Melanie Phillips. Less activist in the Sam Smart sense, more a writer in her focus, a quieter sort of woman. Here she offers a typical entry in her blog, indicating the kind of thing she in her turn deems vital:

“On the Daily Ablution, Scott Burgess is doing heroic work digging into – and translating from the French – the claim that surfaced in Switzerland of an alleged Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy to subjugate Europe to Islam. Last October, an article in the Swiss daily Le Temps recounted how journalist Sylvain Besson had stumbled across the discovery by Swiss investigators of ‘The Project’…”

She excerpts Mr. Burgess quoting a ‘western Official’ to the effect that this semi-rumored, semi-documented thing called The Project is “a totalitarian ideology of infiltration that represents, in the end, the gravest danger for European societies.” In 10 years, says the official, demands for a parallel system will begin to emerge (haven’t they already? is this guy an optimist at heart?). The Project’s featured specifics include a war against Israel, which does keep coming up. They really, really don’t like Israel. The elimination of Israel – for these absolute non-cooperative types – is evidently an indispensable cherry on top of the scrumptious cake of turning the world in their direction. That’s just me blue-skying, that last part.

So wow. “The Project.” That’s weird. Maybe even a downer. And Melanie Phillips looks a little grim in her picture, I have to say. At least single-mom Smart (she once was married, perhaps in the days prior to her demands that society must learn to ignore disgusting concepts like “male” and “female”) talks about “joyful solutions.” Sam-bam’s writing doesn’t seem that joyful, but Melanie Phillips has never that I remember introduced the word “joy” into how to deal with the Islamist threat she sees. Here, the only thin smile she allows herself is granting that The Project’s existence is not totally verified: it may be an inverse up-to-date version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Maybe Burgess’s “western Official” is Commissioner of Highways in Scottsdale AZ, and he has a blog.

So anyway, which middle-aged white woman do you prefer? Or maybe they both offer something worthwhile. (That would be my woman-y take.) Shall we get go some punch and talk about it?

Update: Removed a confusing and open-to-misintepretation conjecture about S. Smart being somewhat "lesbian-y" these days. I didn't specifically mean her own sexuality; I meant the sort of militant sexual politics that's part of the overall Smart output now, and her audience for it, based on where she shows up links-wise. (I actually don't think she is lesbian, not that there's anything wrong with that, underscoring the faulty word choice.)

Update 2: Comments include thinking about how someone like Smart fits into the American political scene. Suffice it to say I think she's quite interesting, and quite worth thinking about.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Andrew McCarthy Comes Out Swinging on Able Danger

"The entire American intelligence community has been restructured in accordance with the 9/11 Commission's conclusion that, as previously configured, it was incapable of ferreting out a suicide-hijacking plot two years in the making. It now appears that the community may have been quite capable of sniffing out the plot (or, at the very least, identifying the plotters) but was unable to get the information into the right hands because of a government ethos predominant throughout the 1990s — an ethos that elevated the supposed civil rights of aliens, even alien terrorists, over the national-security needs of the American people."

I perceive Andrew McCarthy (not the actor) as someone who doesn't engage in this kind of emphatics unless he's pretty sure of himself. The story called Able Danger has been simmering for a while. He seems to have crossed some kind of internal failsafe point.

Do check out that McCarthy bio if you're at all curious. Fascinating guy. For any liberal-ish readers, try not to let the idea of Defending Democracies, and a Foundation actually devoted to it, send you running. I know, it's creepy, but have some courage.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Basic Thought

In the wake of 9-11, the forces of rebellion and dissent in this country suddenly lost their moral right not to be dissented from and rebelled against. (They may never have had it.) They still haven’t gotten used to that or worked an awareness of their own fallibility into their worldviews.

That side having gone under-rebelled-against is the reason the task the nation faces of doing so is more urgent right now than the old-fashioned task of rebelling against the stuff the natural-born dissenters typically select.

Or, I’m a nasty old fascist crank.

Is this too dark?

From a Spencer Ackerman analysis in The New Republic on why Americans Muslims are less likely to become terrorists than their European and British counterparts (subscription required):

“It's true that extremist messages exist in American Muslim communities, and there have been a few instances of American Muslims becoming terrorists. Those extremely rare cases, however, are far better explained by individual pathology than by rising Islamic militancy due to group disaffection.” (Bold added)

I think “arguably” better explained might be a better construction than “far” in some of these cases, but let’s grant the point. What does it mean? It means terroristic violence is evidently one way personal pathology in a Muslim manifests itself.

That probably means it will be rarer than the pure political version, in part because by implication you introduce the desire of the terrorist’s own community to disavow and control it. The article is mainly a heartening presentation of the case that the basic “we don’t like them either” attitude is more present than some fear, here, and definitely more present than in Europe. The ideas about our religiosity and its role in all this are nice, too:

"Most Americans would be horrified by the notion that they live in a country that abides by Islamic law. But some American Muslim leaders contend that U.S. society is harmonious with Koranic injunctions without even trying. "America is positively, unabashedly religious," enthuses Feisal Abdul Rauf, a New York-based imam. In his important 2004 book, titled What's Right With Islam, Abdul Rauf contends that space for religiosity is essentially inseparable from American liberalism, codified in both the U.S. political system and the broader U.S. social compact..."

Great! The remaining irritant is how that kind of healthy attitude (as defined me-centrically) needs to be nearly universal. There can’t be too many insurgents interested in tool-use scattered around, as is maybe the backstory to the sad case of Adam Gadahn, Californian, that Ackerman relates. If there are, then the distinction between the US and Europe begins to dissolve, impact-wise. Although I suppose as I lay dying of some infidel-mall bomb attack or expelling all fluids from my body as a designer bug overtakes me, it will help to realize that the perpetrator himself didn’t really mean anything by it. He just went a little funny. You know – funny.

(I am making a point here. It has to do with how seriously the Muslim world needs to be in accepting its responsibility to police itself. In a connected all-too-rageful world, it’s not enough to maintain that it’s only a scattered few. You cannot tolerate your scattered few, is my view. They have to be hiding from you as much as from the rest of us.)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

"You might remember my movie, '2001 A Space Odyssey'..."

Stanley Kubrick? No, Arthur C. Clarke. On Twin Cities Public TV tonight, during introductory comments early in "The Colours of Infinity," a 1995 documentary on the discovery of the Mandelbrot Set. You know - the Mandelbrot Set. To me it’s a surprising claim, that “my” movie. Did he clear it with Stanley, back in 1995? Or was the intro filmed later, for the long-awaited rebroadcast, and he figured: "What the hell, who’s gonna stop me? Stanley? I don't think so. "

Although maybe Clarke is justified. A quick Web survey (guaranteed accurate as always) reveals that Clarke and Kubrick really did collaborate on the story, and then Clarke wrote the novel and Kubrick made the movie. The movie is more famous. The "story," truth be told, may not be that main reason for said fame, but evidently Clarke has long fussed over all this in his mind and he's decided calling the movie “my” movie is more then defensible; in fact it is his movie, it was supposed to be his movie, it’s his Preciousss –

Sorry, that’s unfair. Still, though.

Incidentally, we’re on the midst of a fundraising fortnight at TPT, as the station calls itself here. So we can assume the documentary must have tested well with donor-heavy focus groups, consisting of those also energized by the swinging 2-hour Michael Bublé appearance on "Great Performances" that preceded it. (Who is the TPT audience, exactly? I have to ask.)

Saturday, December 03, 2005

e-Mail From a Friend

I sent him a little one-liner I wrote to see what he thought:

"I like. Went to your blog hoping to find more but only more parsing of Iraq and insulting of Gore. Happy Birthday anyway. "

Hm, well, normally I wouldn't take this kind of thing lying down, but he liked the joke. Although did he really? Is he just softening me up with that opening? He's a bureaucrat in real life, so he has that skill set.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I'm Gone, I'm Gooo...oone...

Nothing's gonna bring me back. Unless it's my car tomorrow. But other than that, seriously, nothing.

Where to? To where the water tastes just like wine, except in this case it may be the opposite of that, unfortunately, and be true about the beer as well. I'm going to spend a night at Grand Casino Milles Lacs. I'll be scoping out small-town banks to finance my addiction by tomorrow night, I'm sure.

Update: The joke's on me: Grand Casino Milles Lacs is an entirely dry facility! So the wine tasted not like water but like grape juice, which is what it was, labeled "non-alcoholic Merlot." Very good grape juice, granted. But one wonders if we've reached the stage we can begin calling any random dark-ish liquid "non-alcoholic Merlot." Diet Coke. Motor oil. Either of those could give the grape juice I was handed a run for its money in the "It tastes exactly like fine Merlot" competition.

The steak was good, though we were the only two in the fine restaurant: gee, I wonder why. Hello? Marketing? Anybody home?

Update 2: I should clarify, we had a wonderful time last evening in spite of the dry nature of dinner at the casino, operated by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. (I may look into who decides these things and why; I'd be curious). As my mental health therapist wife remarked later, I definitely went to my "wise mind" in accepting reality, that no liquor would be accompanying the meal. I achieved this wisdom by accepting and embracing yet another reality, that being the champagne we had back in the room. Could they hold our table for 15 minutes? Um, yes. They could.

Part 1

Al Gore is perfect. Morally perfect? Deep down he may suspect so, but what I mean is he’s a perfect specimen, the best available, of the ever more explicit marriage between academia and liberalism; with the two commingling their goals and interests in an exhaustive examination of the chaotic United States and the frenzied capitalism it embodies.

That much is fine. Nearly perfect. And Al is to be commended for going around talking about everything that he goes around talking about. As he did back in October, for instance, at something called the “We Media Conference” (I don’t know), a sermon I’ll return to eventually. It’s what he was designed for and he should proceed.

The drawback, for the rest of us, is the basic approach of the Goreian academo-liberal analysis. The way it’s rooted in a strong belief that our society and its chaos are most accurately seen as producing horrifying results, for us and for the world. This includes, of course, the utter disintegration and decay of our once rational and truth-based political system; a rot so complete that the left very often loses elections.

That’s what Al Gore focuses on especially, that last part.

Of course there is just so damn much chaos in our society, and these are such clever and driven people who never lie and are always right, that the rest of us are confronted with a never-ending parallel chaos of analysis, almost all tending toward describing ultimate darkness. In short, we are confronted with Al Gore talking.

Yet something fundamental seems to be missing in all of this worldview that fills Al Gore to bursting. It’s missing from almost all of society-focused academia, missing from the political left and consequently is vastly underplayed in our national politics, since politics is filtered through an incredibly efficient system of reporters, 90% of whom agree with everything Al Gore says (I think of them as zebra mussels). What’s missing is the response.

What’s ignored at best, hated often, is simply the other way of looking at things. Some might call it the optimistic view.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What do pro-choice believers make of something like this?

Conservative moral activist (among other things) Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review points to an LA Times article about a mission-driven abortion provider who believes he’s giving women their lives back in relieving them of desperately unwanted pregnancies. He strives to relieve them of guilt they may feel, and seems to succeed sometimes:

"The last patient of the day, a 32-year-old college student named Stephanie, has had four abortions in the last 12 years. She keeps forgetting to take her birth control pills. Abortion 'is a bummer,' she says, 'but no big stress.'"

Is that kind of attitude an inherently undesirable thing? Is it more than undesirable; is it some kind of immoral or sinful? And if so, why? Would that strong an opinion depend on a perception that the aborted fetus is actually some kind of human life? Finally, less subjectively, how common is this young woman's attitude, or something like it; something in the same cavalier direction?

I don’t know. Although an opening bid of “extremely rare” I would confidently see and raise.

Monday, November 28, 2005

A Kindred Spirit at Huffington Post

A comment way down – comment 37, I think, by “juandimensional” and addressed to “oops” – is marvelous. It puts current travails into historical perspective. I've insisted many times to my friend Steve that the left forgets to do that. And yet he's stil my friend. (Another way of phrasing it is, the left tends to perceive a country that doesn't include itself, or even what might be called the left impulse in nearly everyone.)

Juandimenstional provides a nice quote from “The Mikado:"

"Then the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone, All centuries but this, and every country but his own..."

Mr. dimensional has the grace to distance himself from the word “idiot” in that quote. I wouldn’t have done that, and I defer to Juan’s superior approach.

You don't really need to read the original post to get the comment, by the way. You can if you want. I wouldn't.

"We are completely morally correct..."

"...and therefore unbound by normal political morality." To paraphrase, of course.

Just an example. And proof of the mindset I go on and and on and on about. Unremarkable; to its adherents it's like taking a breath to think the way John Cusack thinks. Again, via The Corner.

The interview is in the Chicago Tribune, requiring registration. It's filled with insights, like this one concerning turning 40: "What I like about this age is that I'm a lot less stupid..."

Yeah, that's what I thought too.

This may be a call for a different president

And not so much a call for fireside chats, as Mary Laney of the Chicago Sun-Times suggests. But I agree with her. (via The Corner.)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

I'm Gone

...until the weekend. Trying to blog on dial-up is like pushing a rope uphill, plus I have nothing to say.

It's funny how things that seem so intense and crucial in the course of my everyday life lose some luster when I just walk away from it all for a while. As I gaze at mashed potatoes and gravy and hear the din of relatives over at the big people's table, I return to an old suspicion: that I want my tombstone to say something other than, "He was really pissed at 'the left' for the longest time. Kept going on and on about 'the left.' Wouldn't shut up about it. Man." (I'm counting on a pretty big tombstone.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Josh Marshall Says Something of Note this post, about the story floating around that Bush either joked about or actually pseudo-seriously recommended bombing Al-Jazeera, back in 2004, during a conversation with Tony Blair:

"Six months, not to mention a year ago, I think there's little reason to believe a paper like the Post would have touched such a story..."

Yes, that seems right. The 2004 election coverage, for example.

"Let's all get together, gang, and maybe we can pull ol' W through! Huzzah! Huzzah!"

The press has grown jaded since then, though. And thank God for that.

“Vikings: Surly attitudes bring benefits.”

“Point to domination of Gascony ‘as early as 844.’”

(The headline is on the front page of the Strib site right now. It isn't really about those Vikings.)

Not So Funny Girl

Not so lots of other things, too. Barbra Streisand writes a letter to the LA Times:

"So although the number of contributors to your Op-Ed pages may have increased, in firing Scheer and hiring columnists such as Jonah Goldberg, the gamut of voices has undeniably been diluted. "

But - but - but - but - but - okay. Barbra, as Jonah G says: Robert Scheer didn't chellenge your own views. He did not require you to "stretch beyond your own paradigm," as you assure us all people in Los Angeles "desire" to do. Jonah Goldberg does do that. So from your own perspective, isn't your point simply, well, paradigm-constrained? Not to say stupid?

(The link above is to Jonah G's NRO Corner post that contains her letter; here's the original at the Times, which requires registration.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I Still Suspect Economic Growth as Currently Conceived Has a Corrosive Quality

But that has almost nothing to do with the current state of politics, the topic upon which this old post isn't completely valueless. Some might call it "ad hominem." I just mean it as a way to think about things.

I Digress

I was writing and stumbled on a reason to make reference to John Speake, the man sent to find Sir Richard Burton, African Explorer, who was off searching for the source of the Nile but had been gone so long that people were beginning to wonder.

Naturally I wanted to beef things up web-style, using a link to explain Speake.

I couldn’t find one. I found oblique references, but no page that simply explained him. I was surprised. I mean after all, the guy was a main character in a PBS docudrama. Yes, that's right. A PBS docudrama and the internet has nothing.

I went to Amazon. Surely there’s a biography? From the old days? No. Not that I could see.

A market failure, I would say.

I did find “Literature of Travel and Exploration,” edited by Jennifer Speake, available in hardcover for $495 (four hundred and ninety-five dollars) from Oxford University Press. Is she a great-great-granddaughter? I wonder. And might she consider a re-pricing strategy? The book’s never been customer-reviewed. I think that “speaks” for itself.

(Sir Richard Burton was a truly amazing guy of course. There are several Burton bios, like this one, reasonably-priced at $4.75. Is it any good? “A waste of paper,” says Dennis Todd of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. "Less than 1-100th as good as "Literature of Travel and Exploration." Okay, I added that. But evidently pricing isn’t all one should consider.)

Monday, November 21, 2005

I'm Paul. I'm from Minneapolis. This is my story.

Or a little bit of it anyway. I spent the weekend in Wisconsin, for a surprise birthday party for my wife's brother, who shall remain nameless. He’s fifty, so really: someone should get around to naming him. But we all had a fantastic time in spite of it.

Anyway, it seems there are now scattered relatives, wife category, aware of and reading these jottings when they can think of nothing better to do. Meaning hypothetically at least, my readership has expanded again.

Like the “Uncle Norm” who leaves a surprisingly aggressive poem-comment on the post below. Very amusing, Norm. So let me explain: I write notes in longhand, and chaos follows in my wake. I won't deny it. And the harder I try, the worse it gets!

Or Uncle Larry, who is somewhat Republican-ey, it’s fair to conjecture. I sent him the link a few months ago and never heard back. So now here he was describing his perceptions of me to a grouping of aunts: “Well, I always assumed this guy was basically a pretty liberal thinker, but then I see wow! This guy is waay right!”

Oh am I. So: I sense a renewed responsibility to be purposeful and clear, or at least less slapdash and even irritating. Thus I believe I’m going to write something explaining my ‘basic perspective.’ It can’t be too long. But it would be a good idea.

In the meantime, this recent post hints at what drives me, like Tiger Woods is consumed with surpassing Nicklaus. The “Strib,” for the uninitiated, is the Star-Tribune, Newspaper of the Twin Cities, where the editorial page is managed by berserkers.

Then this, not by me, has taken on a basic reference role. It’s long. It’s not 100% correct. Like I’ve said before, it’s just a turn of the kaleidoscope on who has power and who abuses it. (Hint: it's not me. Unless abusive penmanship counts.)

Now it’s back to my life, which for the foreseeable future will involve nothing at all but a search for a replacement humidifier belt, furnace drum type, suitable for an Autoflo #2500 or #200P or even, if you can believe it, #200EP.

Update: Got the belt. Found a business called "Grainger" that supplies things like that. A friendly, intrigued and stubborn 800-number woman had to search for ten minutes on her computer. (There are, I believe, three of us in the Twin Cities still relying on what is evidently the Model-T of furnace humidifiers.) And, they have a warehouse with a retail sideline just minutes south of me. And, they were able through electronics to guarantee the part would be waiting for me, which it was and there was no line, and they were cheap (I bought two). And - they sell Airflo products and are committed to having this very belt, furnace drum type and all, for 15 years at least!

To make a long story short, that should have been shorter. But there you have it.

Oh: one of the links was screwed up - mistakes were made - but now it's fixed.