Silflay Hraka

10/19/2002




Sperari has created a nice icon for the anti-idiotarian manifesto. I wonder what Aol will think about it.


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Late Night Blogging

Google continues to send traffic our way. One person landed here while searching for "Mardi Gras Girls Exposed", while somebody else arrived here searching for "Peckerhead South Dakota." Obviously, the intelligence of our audience is on a downslope.


Postscript: First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself. Also, you're currently at the old site. Fresh Hraka is posted every day at our current location.

10/18/2002




Everybody Knows About Shrinkage

This is true, I could not make this up. Apparently some guy was at a hockey game, and with five minutes left in the game he climbed the glass wearing nothing but red socks. Instead of jumping on the ice and doing a victory lap in the buff, he fell over the glass and landed on his head. He was obviously hurt and taken to the hospital. As you might guess, charges are pending. Actually, the public humiliation of having everyone see his unit after lying on a sheet of ice for 6 minutes might be punishment enough.


Postscript: First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself. Also, you're currently at the old site. Fresh Hraka is posted every day at our current location.




Move Review – In The Bedroom

My wife and I usually differ on the types of movies we pick out at the local video store. I am sure that many of you experience the same problem when you decide to watch a movie. We have developed a system where we play games (Scrabble, Yahtzee, Rock, Scissors, Paper, whatever), and the winner gets to choose the movie for that night. So far, so good.

Unfortunately, I lost this week and she got to pick out the selection. She looked through all of our choices and was drawn to the movie In The Bedroom. Of course it had won or been nominated for a bunch of awards………..that should have been an indication. We rented the movie and went home. After putting the Bug to bed we got comfortable on the couch and started the flick……….it went downhill from there.

This was one of the worst movies I have EVER had to sit through. It is unusual for me to hate watching a movie, but that happened here. The movie was very dark, which I don’t mind, but it was also equally as slow. The movie seemed to take forever to get going. Little to nothing happened for the first hour of the movie, and absolutely nothing happened for the rest of it.

I typically don’t mind dark movies, but I want something to occur and was very disappointed with what this movie had to offer. Not every motion picture has to have a happy ending, but this one moved so slow that it just served to bore me to tears. I didn’t care for any of the characters (except that I do think Morissa Tomei is attractive), and none of the characters made a single good decision through the story.

It was painful, and I found myself counting the minutes until the movie ended. Usually, when these types of movie conclude, I may have hated it and my wife may say that she liked it………not the case here. We both hated it equally and agreed that this was a waste of four dollars. I would suggest that any of you thinking of renting this movie would have a much more enjoyable experience if you were to spend this money renting Somersby, which I also hated, just not as much.


Postscript: First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself. Also, you're currently at the old site. Fresh Hraka is posted every day at our current location.




Refridgerator Critic Again

I have not done this before, but I wanted to put up this web site once more to give people a chance to see it. I posted it last night and didn't want it to get lost in our other posts. This is a hilarious site that critiques children's pictures. Those of you who have seen it before, I apologize, those who haven't, you should check it out.


Postscript: First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself. Also, you're currently at the old site. Fresh Hraka is posted every day at our current location.




Teacher’s Pet
Do you know who your favorite teacher of all time is? For most people it is easy to name one or two people. I’m not sure why, but my favorite teacher has been on my mind today. Perhaps it is because I am still flying and my teacher left the profession to continue a career in the airline industry.

Her name was Miss Sykes and she was my teacher in the 5th grade. She had flaming red hair and seemed “country sweet.” She really reminded me a lot of Flo, from the show Alyce, but she never told me to “kiss her grits.”

I loved that woman…………..no, I mean it. I loved her so much, and I’m not sure that learning was ever as much fun as it was when I was in the 5th grade. I remember that she loved the I Love Lucy show (looked kind of like her too) and would sometimes weave stories of Lucy into our schooling. She gave me an interest in 20th Century history and to this day I love to hear about JFK’s murder, the Cuban Missle Crisis, the World Wars, and much more. It is a testament to her that my favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird, which she got me to read for the fun of it. I wouldn’t have done that for just anyone, but remember, I loved her. She also got a bunch of us together to go see the movie Ben Hur, which was quite a lot for a 5th grader to take in.

I’m sure that time has clouded what was fact and fiction regarding my memories of Miss Sykes. My picture of her is that of a renaissance teacher, one who seemed like a good ol’ country girl, yet was extremely well read and liked to talk about books and issues simply because that kind of discussion broadens your horizons. She was awesome and I wish that I could get in touch with her to tell her thanks. Thanks for leaving a footprint on my identity and helping to shape the person I am today.

I checked to see if she could be listed on Classmates.com and she wasn’t, but I wish she would be…………remember, I loved her.


Postscript: First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself. Also, you're currently at the old site. Fresh Hraka is posted every day at our current location.




In retrospect, it turned out to be an unfortunate name for a beverage.


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The BG Wildlife Photos of the year can be found here. People desiring fast download speeds, adequate picture size or a decent layout are advised to stay away, as the site sucks absolute ass in all three areas.


Postscript: First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself. Also, you're currently at the old site. Fresh Hraka is posted every day at our current location.




Suffer, the little children, that come unto me

Hail Mary, full of grace.
You should've seen the look.
On that kid's face.
His tears, his pain, and his dismay,
As the church said fucking
kids
is a-okay!
Go now, my son, and wipe your ass.
Clean off the blood, before
Catechism class.

Update: John Paul has also changed the first part of the Apostle's Creed. It now reads;
I believe that God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth and Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and buried, don't really care if I force this 10 year old boy's face down onto my crotch.

Update 2: We've kicked the Catholic Church while it was down before.

Update 3: Chuck Simmins says that the U.S. bishops never intended to fix the American church's pedophile problem.

U.S. Roman Catholic Church's new sexual abuse policy was doomed from the start. The Bishops of the United States are either expert in Church law or have them on their staffs. From the start, they have been well aware that this policy went directly against existing Church law. Nothing in the twenty-four years of this Pope's reign would suggest that a change in the law was remotely possible. This charade was produced as a "cover your ass" exercise only.


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Bloody Foreigners and their Watney's Red Barrel

When in Rome, demand that the Romans do as you do.


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Cryptozoology

Perhaps the Thunderbird isn't extinct after all.

It reminds me of a short story I read, years ago most likely, where the animals of legend, like unicorns, basilisks, hydra's and minotaurs would re-appear and take the place of an animal group that had just become extinct. I don't remember anything else about it, unless it it turns out to be the same Zelazny story where a guy plays chess with a Unicorn.

And thanks to Google, it turns out that yes, that is the same story. It was called "Unicorn Variations" and came about after Zelazny decided to write a story that included a barroom, a Unicorn, and chess, as he'd never done a story about any of those before. Here's a filksong about it, and the cover art to the books. My, but the Internet is wondrous strange.


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10/17/2002




Refrigerator Critic

Those of you with children who draw you pictures that find their way onto the refrigerator will appreciate this. It is one of the funniest web sites I have ever seen. Enjoy.


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People Watching in a Tube

I am flying as I write this, and with nothing but time on my hands I am taking the time (or wasting it) noticing the people who are flying on this metal tube with me. It's amazing how many times in a day we pass strangers, never taking the time to talk to them. I don't know why today is different from the other times I have flown, but today I am keenly aware of the people who surround me, and whose stories I will never know. Noticing the people today has caused me to reflect on people in general, and how our behavior appears to others when we fly.

First of all, there is a guy sitting beside me (actually there is an empty seat between us so I hope he can't read this) who I believe thinks a lot of himself. I noticed him in the boarding area. You all know his type, perhaps some of you are his type. He coolly walks up to the gate desk dressed in his suit and walking with his buddy. He flashes what he believes is a winning smile and says to the women at the desk, "Are we still on time?," as if he is part of the crew. He throws his hand towards the sky to check his expensive watch, that I believe he wanted us all to see and then took a seat.

Now that we are on the plane he keeps looking at that watch and fixing his tie so we can all notice that he is a big time player in the world of sales, and wish that we could be like him. I know he has looked at me and thought, Poor guy, as he surveyed my attire. I don't tend to dress well when I travel, or any other time I guess. I am traveling to a conference in Park City, UT, but I think this guy believes that he has such a better life than I do, or perhaps better than most of the people on this plane. If he had met my daughter he wouldn't think that.

I really don't mind that people make so much more money than I do, I don't think, I just hate it when people act as if that somehow makes them so much better than I am. Some people walk around with such an arrogance about them that I can hardly bear to talk to them. In actuality, I don't want the guy to speak with me because that might show me how wrong I was about him. These are simply observations, nothing more.

Next, I have noticed several women who are traveling with infants or small children. This is not an easy feat. If you have children, you know how hard it can be to pack all your stuff in a van, but packing all of that on the plane can be even more difficult. You worry about whether or not your child will cry and disturb all of the people around you, or get so upset that you cannot calm him/her down.

The worst part of flying with babies is the people around you. People suck at hiding their emotions, and I have already seen a number of mean looks today as the women took their seats. I'm sorry if my child cries and bothers you, but can't we at least be tolerant of it. Some of these people look so mean.

Finally, there was a bit of a panic aboard the plane as one woman was reportedly dizzy and had a history of heart problems. She was sitting on my row, that is how I learned all of this. Turned out she has a cold, I think, so everything was okay, but the flight attendants were talking about diverting the plane if necessary. I have to admit, I was glad that did not happen.

Sidenote: Somebody just let a big one and of course I cannot open a window. Dear God, it is terrible and I bet the Fortune 500 guy thinks that I did it.

Another interesting thing I have noticed today is how some people approach the boarding process. For those of you who have never flown Southwest, let me explain it to you. They don't assign seats. It is like general admission at a concert, and don't we all remember what happened in Cincinnati at the Who concert? It can get ugly. Anyway, there are some people who get in the gate and immediately go and stand in front of the place where they will take up tickets……….IN AN HOUR AND A HALF!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I admit, these people bother me a little. I can understand when buddies are flying together and want to make sure that they sit by one another, but people who were flying solo were doing the same thing. They stand up there and look suspicious at anyone who makes a move towards the front of the line, as if they are the king of the flying jungle and the rest of us are the wounded gazelles. Over the course of an hour and a half I purposely walked up to the front of the line and looked out the window just to kind of piss them off. Not much, but I had to find ways to entertain myself.

I guess my attitudes about flying have changed somewhat since the WTC attacks. I just don't care as much. I don't care too much if a very overweight person sits next to me and takes up part of my seat too. I don't mind if a woman sits beside me with a crying infant in her arms. I don't even mind the person sitting in front of me leaning her chair back into my space. Hey, we are all sharing a SMALL space for a couple of hours together. So, I don't sleep, I hear babies cry, or I have to smell another poot (they are not pretty), at least I think we are going to make it there safely, and that is more than some people have been able to say about their loved ones.

UPDATE: After closing down the computer Mr. Money Bags beside me started picking his nose and blatantly flicking it into the center aisle. I'm sure he wasn't doing it to show everyone that he could, he was in one of those zones when you are reading something and not paying attention to what you are doing. It was gross. I wanted to say something but wasn't exactly sure what would be appropriate.


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Who’s Next?

America seems to be moving down the road towards another confrontation with Iraq. I feel like the benefits and costs of such a move has been debated to death and I am simply too tired to travel down that road any farther today. But what I am concerned about is the fact that our knowledge of other countries with nuclear capabilities is growing. Bush stated that we need to take care of, with military force if necessary, all countries that pose a threat to the security of the world. This, of course, is the drum he has been banging in order to gain support for his desire to attack Iraq. Then something strange occurs.

North Korea came forward this week and admitted that they have nuclear capabilities. Does this now mean that America is contemplating a war against that country as well? There are a couple of differences that have occurred to me today, as I spend endless amounts of time sitting in the airport. First, North Korea admitted they have the capability. It is not like Iraq where the weapons’ program is being hidden and moved around from place to place in tractor trailer trucks. They did not lead the world on and deny their weapons, they were honest and I’m sure that has to count for something.

In another bizarre twist, N. Korea this week returned a number of Japanese people who were kidnapped some 25 years ago. These kidnappings have been denied for several decades and now, all of a sudden, these people are returned, with an, “I’m sorry,” no less. No, I’m sorry doesn’t make up for 25 years, and it doesn’t make up for the loss that countless parents felt 25 years ago when their children were taken from them………..but at least it is something. I’m grateful those people were returned, and I hope that this is a step towards that country behaving in a way that is conducive with the rest of the free world, but the question that sticks out for me is “Why now?”

Was it done because they knew the U.S. was coming for a visit and this would lessen the impact of their admitting to having nuclear capabilities? I am thankful, but I am wary. I am doubtful that the leaders of that country have suddenly found a heart like the tin man.

Also, the concern I have is that I do not believe that the U.S. can afford to wage a war on that country seeing as we are already on the ground in Afghanistan and may soon be blowing stuff up in Iraq. Yes, we are the strongest nation on the planet, with the most capable, badass military in the world, but I am afraid that would spread us too thin, especially if we are going it alone. Since starting this blog I have heard that we are not planning to use military force to deal with this issue. By the way, when N. Korea admitted to having the bomb………France surrendered.


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Think of it as Evolution in Action

Former NATO commander Wesley Clark, as quoted in this article at Salon.

"If we go in unilaterally, or without the full weight of international organizations behind us, if we go in with a very sparse number of allies, if we go in without an effective information operation ... we're liable to supercharge recruiting for al-Qaida," Clark said.

I can hear Zawahiri now, explaining to his aides that there's no point in a recruiting drive this year, as the addition of Belgium and Luxembourg to the coalition invading Iraq has convinced the average Arab that the Ummah needs to take a pass on this one.

"Yep, that pretty much gives the U.S. the moral authority to kill as many Arabs as they need, and there's not a thing we can do about it," he would say.

In all fairness to General Clark, he's not actually saying that we're doing all those things, but that's beside the point. The fact is that no matter how we invade Iraq, whether it is on our own, with the nominal backing of the U.N., or as the head of a force containing soldiers from every nation on the face of the earth, AL-Qaeda will use our presence there as a recruiting tool. If we don't invade, Al-Qaeda will use that as a recruiting tool. I already know the arguments they'll use.

"The U.S. is weak and will eventually back down if confronted long enough."
"The U.S. doesn't care about the Iraqis. They didn't invade Iraq because Saddam is their puppet, and through him they oppress the Iraqi people."

It doesn't matter if the arguments are correct, or make any sense whatsoever. Face it, Al-Qaeda has decided to be the enemy of the West. If they thought that they could use the 2000 presidential election in Florida to recruit Democratic suicide bombers, they would. Al-Qaeda seeks no peace, no negotiated settlement. They seek to rule us or destroy us, and to impose the Ummah on a planetary scale.

And I want them recruiting. I want every Muslim in the world to hear their message. I want anyone who has even the slightest sympathetic inclination for them to join their ranks, to support them and to fight with them in their war on the West--so we can kill them. So we can take the idea of the Ummah and destroy it forever. A generation from now, when an Arab proposes armed struggle against the West, I want his people to commit him rather than follow him. I want the mention of jihad to bring only disgust and fear in reaction. I want Islam to be as peaceful and tolerant a religion as Unitarianism. I want them to look back at the World Trade Center, at the bombings in Bali and the Talibani executions of women in Kabul through the tears in their eyes and say "Never again." And if in order to realize this vision the West has to kill 5 million Al-Qaeda recruits, I say so be it. They have set themselves up as a bulwark against the future, and I want that bulwark crushed in such a way that the idea of rebuilding it is considered a dangerous lunacy for the next ten thousand years.


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Saving Salon

My Salon subscription expired yesterday. I'll not be renewing it. I'm fairly sure that I got my $30 worth, but it was a pain in the ass. I was constantly having to log back in to read the premium stuff, but that by itself wouldn't have been enough to keep me from coming back. What's driving my decision not to renew is time. I've got 13 sites, including Salon, that Opera opens automatically for me every morning when I click on the news folder, including Google News, Slate, the NYT, Yahoo, Wired and FARK. Throw in at least another 13 blogs, plus Blogdex and the two Romenesko sites and I could have all day free and not read all the content available to me, not to mention that I've got to create something for your reading pleasure (Yes, pleasure might be too strong a word) as well. On any normal day, that takes at least a couple of hours, which still doesn't feel like I've spent nearly enough time on it.

Glenn Reynolds talked about something akin my predicament in his TechStationCentral column yesterday. His point was that blogs do a decent job at news analysis and punditry essentially for free, which puts a serious crimp in the plans of anyone who tries to charge for it. His suggestion to big media was that they should concentrate more on the business of digging up stories and reporting actual news.

Not that there isn't intense competition there as well. People aren't going to pay a lot for actual reportage, either. Sometimes they're not even willing to jump through the hoops necessary to even get free news. I'm not sure what I would pay to read a particular news story (though obviously it is less than a $30 lump sum for a year's access to content), but I know exactly what I'm not willing to do. Here's the registration page for the L.A.Times. It's to much trouble for me to even fill out that form with false information, much less true. If somebody out there has a name/password combination that they are willing to send me for the L.A.Times, great. Otherwise I'll never read one of their stories. They don't publish anything I can't get anywhere else.

The thing about Salon is that they do publish stuff that I'm not going to see anywhere else, yet I'm still unwilling to pay for it, even though I think that I'm probably getting my money's worth. (Hi Scott! How's that ulcer right about now?) I think it all boils down to the lump sum. Yes, that sum can go as low as $6, but I just don't want to go through the trouble of filling out all those damn fields and giving Salon my credit card number. I'd glady pay Salon a dime per story that I'm interested in if they'll take PayPal, and all I have to give them is my PayPal account name, and it takes me less than a minute to go through the entire process. 30 seconds would be better, though. I could pay through Amazon as well. I don't care how Salon does it, but they're not getting my money unless I can give it to them through some sort of painless micropayment per story plan. Let's say I average a dime a day. That's $36.50 a year, a 20% increase over what Salon got from me last year.

The beauty of a micropayment system once it is installed is that Salon could not only vary the prices charged per story, it could probably pay the writers less of a lump sum per story as well, and instead offer them a cut of each micropayment. How many of you out there would write a story on Salon for a half cent per reader? We average a hundredth of a cent per reader at Hraka, (not that I do this for the money, obviously) so a half cent per reader would be beyond the dreams of avarice for me. I'd likely pay to be listed at Salon, and hope that the half cent return on whatever traffic I attracted would let me break even on the story, and perhaps result in a few people discovering Hraka. I suspect that Salon would soon be drowning in content, which would allow them to charge more to list each story.

So in short, Salon makes more money from its readers than it's getting now, reduces expenditures for content, and develops an entirely new source of revenue by charging people to provide them with content. You're welcome to the plan, Salon, it cost me nothing to come up with it. Ya'll can send me 1000 shares of stock if you like. Heck, that's still practically nothing.


Postscript: First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself. Also, you're currently at the old site. Fresh Hraka is posted every day at our current location.

10/16/2002




No Doubt About It

Welcome back,
Your dreams were your ticket out.
Welcome back,
To that same old place that you laughed about.
Well the names have all changed since you hung around,
But those dreams have remained and they're turned around.

Who'd have thought they'd lead ya (Who'd have thought they'd lead ya)
Here where we need ya (Here where we need ya)
Yeah we tease him a lot cause we've got him on the spot, welcome back,
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.


Postscript: First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself. Also, you're currently at the old site. Fresh Hraka is posted every day at our current location.




It floats through the air with the greatest of ease,
That daring young crab testing out Zero-G.


Postscript: First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself. Also, you're currently at the old site. Fresh Hraka is posted every day at our current location.

Postscript: First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself. Also, you're currently at the old site. Fresh Hraka is posted every day at our current location.




Putting a Face on a Killer

What is psychological profiling? Is it useful? Last night on television, two men were arguing about the validity of this practice. One man, a person who participated in the hunt for the Son of Sam, suggested that the practice of psychological profiling is an exercise in futility. He claimed that nobody, and he meant NOBODY, has ever been arrested based on tips received from a profiler.

The other man, whose job it has been to profile murderers, not surprisingly, chimed in regarding the usefulness of this practice. He argument did lack some punch. He said that the practice can be immensely helpful, and then stated that although many people are not caught due to the profiling, it is amazing how many times a person is arrested who meets the qualities described by the profilers.

My conclusion is that it is a complete waste of time. The hunt for the sniper is a good example of this. Recently found in the New York Times, three different theories have been discussed. The ideas are that the sniper is possibly a loner, a hunter, or a teenager. Is this helpful? What skills do you need to have in order to be a profiler? Perhaps this occupation is similar to that of a fortune teller or the person who writes your horoscope each day. I am not sure what methods are used to profile someone other than to look at previous killings and make predictions based on that information. In order to make my point, let me act as a profiler and make some assumptions of the sniper, realizing that I have no previous training in this craft.

1. Sniper is a male. This is a good bet for a number of reasons. First, all witnesses have reported seeing a male, or men, in the “van.” Also, it is simply a good guess since most killers in history have been men, as well as men traditionally being more adept at firing a gun.
2. Sniper is someone who does not care for other people. This is what we refer to as a “no-brainer.” Dammit, this guy is killing random, innocent people. Even my 22 month old can tell that he does not have any warm feelings for human life.
3. Sniper is brazen, bold and not afraid of getting caught. Hey Sherlock, the guy shot his last victim at an estimated 30 yards, that is definitely bold. If he cared much about being caught he would have shot his victim from farther away than 30 yards and done it from a more remote location than in the middle of a busy parking lot.
4. Sniper is a loner. Must be, because if he had a bunch of friends, family and coworkers, somebody might have noticed him being gone every time somebody has been shot and would eventually put 2 and 2 together and go to the police.

I don’t see how using a profiler is helping this investigation or any previous investigations. Instead of wasting the money paying a consultant some astronomical fee to come up with this composite of a person, I suggest taking that money and hiring more policemen to get on the case, because it is that group that is going to solve this killing spree, not a profiler.


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Show me the money

Thomas Friedman comes out swinging on the divestiture campaign targeted at Israel, and accuses the organizers of hypocrisy.

Memo to professors and students leading the divestiture campaign: Your campaign for divestiture from Israel is deeply dishonest and hypocritical, and any university that goes along with it does not deserve the title of institution of higher learning.

You are dishonest because to single out Israel as the only party to blame for the current impasse is to perpetrate a lie. Historians can debate whether the Camp David and Clinton peace proposals for a Palestinian state were for 85, 90, or 97 percent of the West Bank and Gaza. But what is not debatable is what the proper Palestinian response should have been. It should have been to tell Israel and America that their peace proposals were the first fair offer they had ever put forth, and although they still fell short of what Palestinians feel is a just two-state solution, Palestinians were now prepared to work with Israel and America to achieve that end. The proper response was not a Palestinian intifada and 100 suicide bombers, which are what brought Ariel Sharon to power.

It is shameful that at a time when some Palestinians are writing that they made a historic mistake in not nurturing the Clinton peace offer, pro-Palestinian professors and students in America and Europe pretend that the only reason the occupation persists is because of Israeli obstinacy. This approach will never gain the Palestinians a state, and those who dabble in it are simply prolonging Palestinian misery.

You are also hypocrites. How is it that Egypt imprisons the leading democracy advocate in the Arab world, after a phony trial, and not a single student group in America calls for divestiture from Egypt? (I'm not calling for it, but the silence is telling.) How is it that Syria occupies Lebanon for 25 years, chokes the life out of its democracy, and not a single student group calls for divestiture from Syria? How is it that Saudi Arabia denies its women the most basic human rights, and bans any other religion from being practiced publicly on its soil, and not a single student group calls for divestiture from Saudi Arabia?


How's this for a theory on the Israel divestiture campaign? It's all about the ooooooiiiiilllll, as Spleenville would say. It's easy to campaign for divesting in Israel, because the economic effect of such a divestiture on the protestors is nil. Divesting in Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, would hit the protestors directly in the pocketbook. Why, gas prices would go up, and we already know the Left is terrified of that. After all, it's one of the main arguments used against invading Iraq. You'd think that liberating the oppressed would be worth a few more pennies per gallon, wouldn't you?

Speaking of gas, when was the last time the Left protested against the polices of an OPEC member? When Indonesia was killing thousands in East Timor, where were the campus protests? Nigeria is about to stone a new mother to death for adultery, where are the petitions calling for economic sanctions? Iran is about to kill thousands of dogs, where are the PETA nudes?

It strikes me that there is a logical explanation for the Leftist focus on Israel and Iraq nowadays. What if they're not only scared of rising gas prices, but petrified that a fund source is about to dry up? The Arabs certainly gave a lot of money to Cynthia McKinney, and the Arabs haven't had that much involvement with a black woman since they were selling Cynthia's ancestors into slavery. It's too bad there's nothing like an opensecrets.org for college professors. I'd be real interested in seeing who gives Noam Chomsky money.

It's all well and good to say you're for human rights, to paint a nice little sign and shout slogans before you take a break and get a venti at Starbucks, but it's another thing entirely to actually apply those moral standards. The best friend of the habitual Saudi wife beater, of the Hamas member recruiting suicide bombers at a middle school, and the stone throwing Nigerian today is the Left, because the Left has decided that their worst atrocities are as nothing when compared to a Jewish democracy defending itself.

Here are the friends of the Saudi wife beaters and the suicide bombers at Tufts,
at Cornell,
at Harvard,
and at Princeton

Drop them a line, ask them if they'd hold a press conference and announce that none of the groups sponsoring this travesty is receiving money from the Arabs, has never received money from the Arabs, and will never accept money originating from non-democratic countries. Ask them to open up their financial records for outside inspection so that they can prove it.

But don't hold your breath.

Update: A reader points out that that at least some lefties were all over the East Timor issue.
Thanks, Yehudit.


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Set Timers For Fifteen Minutes

Dude, your time may be up.


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Baywatch in Alaska?

The only things missing from this group of rescuers are thongs and a massive amount of silicone.


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Carnival of the Vanities #4

I think one of the hardest things to do in the blogosphere is to learn the equivalent of hitting singles day after day, especially when it seems like everyone else in the blogosphere is knocking them over the fence. Face it, no one hits a home run day after day, not even Lileks or Den Beste. The best you can do is make contact, keep the ball in play, advance the runner, keep on keeping on. Yes, a home run drives in a lot of traffic, but since home runs are few and far between for most of us, it's the singles that keep us in the game.

The second hardest thing is to learn is to avoid tired old clapped out baseball metaphors. Nevertheless, here are this week's hits, all ground-rule doubles at the very least.

CSI
Weck up to Thees - Going Ballistic

Culture Medium
Dustbury - Summer 0f Love Plus 35
Solonor's Ink Well - A Cultural Event
Greeblie.com - Led Zeppelin is Back!
Ipse Dixit - In The Mind Of The Beholder
Kalyr.com - The Demon Drink?

Dogs of War
Whigging Out - The Real Engagement Begins
Cognocentric - Without Apology
skippy the bush kangaroo - roasted chickenhawks
Heretical Ideas - We are at War
Philosoblog - Dead Enemy Innocents
The Road to Surfdom - Overtures, Curtains, Lights


Humor
AMCGLTD - Break Like the Wind
Mad Kane - Irresolution Blues
Blogatron - Important Lessons I Have Not Learned
Meryl Yourish - Proof of Conspiracy
Kalyr.com - Fun with the Smart Engine
Norwegian Blogger - MiSTing the Mad Aussie
The Raving Atheist - Nun Sees God's Work in Desperate,Violently Flopping Fish Gasping Through Bloody Hook-Ripped Mouths
Amish Tech Support - Powers of 10 Day
Silflay Hraka - Conversations with Zod

Innumeracy
Allsci - Is Terrorism Really That Bad?

Legal Eagles
Kyle Still Free Press - The Constitutionality of Cross Burning
The Kitchen Cabinet - Dickmania!

Mars, Venus
Sour Bob - Unexpected

Mists of Time
The Roblog! - The Fulcrum of 1978
a small victory - and babies come from the garden
Sure Thing, Babs - Babs' First Slow Dance, Epilogue

Natural History
Fragments ~ From Floyd - Life. And Death. Of a Leaf, and Thee, and Me

Shootin' Arns
The Safety Valve - License Drivers, Not Guns
Ravenwood's Universe - CBS for Gun Banning

Updating the Mythos
Ipse Dixit - Hell, V2.0

The Carnival of the Vanities is published every Wednesday at Silflay Hraka and Blog Critics, except for next week, when it will be hosted by Amish Tech Support! Many thanks to Laurence for undertaking this Herculean task for us, as we will be on the island of Ocracoke all week long, torturing fish and drowning our brain cells in a hellish mix of nicotine and microbrews.


Information on how to join the Carnival is available here, and all are welcome.


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10/15/2002




Ninth Circle of Hell

Take a look at this. If nothing loads, or you get an error, I'm still at work.

Update: Home now, finally. We were down for 5 hours, the longest unscheduled downtime we've had in quite some time. For some reason our NFS server panicked and rebooted, and when it came back up, it could only see one of the two RAIDS we had connected to it at a time. Since we had critical systems on both, everything had to come down while we were troubleshooting the problem.

Makes absolutely no sense, does it? Let me try again. I'm part of a team in charge of two main UNC systems, www.unc.edu and most of the other urls ending in unc.edu, and blackboard.unc.edu, which is our online course stuff. Both of those systems take up huge amounts of space, measuring in the hundreds of gigs, so they're not actually kept on our main computers. All of the blackboard.unc.edu files, and a lesser but still large portion of the www.unc.edu files, are kept on what you can think of as two gigantic hard drives. That's not anywhere near correct, but for our purposes it'll do. Those are the RAIDs. In order to get these files out to the world, we connect the RAIDS to a file server, which then acts as if all these files were actually part of the machine. Then we connect parts of the file server to the actual machines that run www.unc.edu and blackboard.unc.edu in the same manner. (BTW, you'll notice all of the links above are to Sun boxes. We also have Linux boxes, 20 or so, but they are new, and have not yet made it to the production front lines.)

What happened was something, we still don't know what, exactly, caused the file server to get the two RAIDs confused. First it insisted that both had the same exact content, then once we got past that it refused to see both at the same time. Fixing the problem essentially boiled down to trying different things in order to isolate the problem while we wended our way up Sun's tech support ladder. Finally we got to a guy who not only recognized the problem, but had a document listing the steps we needed to take to solve the problem, even though he also had no idea what initially caused it. Once we got through that, we spent another half hour calming down the rest of the machines, turning back on our monitoring software, and doing general clean up. That brings me to now, which gives me two hours to get the Carnival done. Joy. Possibly I'll post a more technical explanation of what went wrong tomorrow, but if so it'll be more for my benefit than anything else, as I can't imagine it'll be any more interesting


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New Quarter

The moment you have all been waiting for has finally arrived.........Mississippi has unveiled its new quarter, the latest state to get one. No, there is nothing burning on it and even the confederate flag is not present. Perhaps the times they are a changin'.


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Psychic Profiling

Well, this is probably at least as accurate a profile as mine is.


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Shooting Update
CNN is reporting that chatter from police scanners indicates that they are looking for a single olive-skinned man in a white or cream-colored van. Officials have refused to confirm or deny that.


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10/14/2002

Postscript: First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself. Also, you're currently at the old site. Fresh Hraka is posted every day at our current location.




Pinhead's Progress

"Here comes the man.......with the auger in his hand....he's going to bore a hole-a.......bore a hole-a.......bore a hole-a....bore a hole-a!"

Oh, how I feared that sound as a child. Dad would intone it in a dead monotone that sounded like a zombie Voice of Doom, his finger spiraling in slowly towards his target, then faster and faster, the pitch in his voice rising the faster his finger went, until it inevitably attempted to drill a hole into some ticklish portion of the anatomy. Eventually all he had to do to drive his children from a room was to intone "Here comes the Man" in a suitably suspenseful voice; convenient when he desired a nice peaceful little lie-down on the couch.

I don't ever remember liking it, not that the memory has stopped me from inflicting it on Ngnat, who absolutely adores it....for the moment. I suspect that in a couple of years she'll come to hate it as much as I did as a child, as I follow my dad down the same path of futility, resorting to ever more frenzied measures in order to produce the same innocent toddler delight I receive now--from a jaded and cynical kindergartner.

But that's in the future. For now it's the latest and greatest in the Daddy bag of tricks, so effective that I got her to shriek in faux terror and collapse onto the floor tonight just by turning my head ever so slightly and extending my index finger. She gets some of her own back occasionally, turning her finger in little circles, then jabbing at me.

"Heah comma man, nana ina han.......bora hola!," chuckling as I mime an extreme ticklish reaction. "Do again?"

So we do again, or we do momma, or the cats, who ignore the first part of the ritual, then stare at us in astonishment and stalk stiffly away after a bora hola! interrupts their nap on the couch, and a tiny finger or two bumps along their rib cage.

These are new times, though, and modern times call for new techniques to supplement the old in the area of tickle technologies. She'll be lying on the floor, kicking at me with a kind of joyful viciousness, and I'll switch from the slow torture of the auger chant to something several warps speeds beyond it, from longish period of horrifying anticipation.....poke to pokepokepokepokepokepokepokeppoke. Unlike the auger...poem?, for which I have been unable to find an origin, I know exactly where this tickle chant comes from. I don't know why this particular bit of life's detritus popped out of my head when it came time to tickle the toddler, but it seems to fit.

Gabba gabba we accept you we accept you one of us! Gabba gabba we accept you we accept you one of us!

Thanks Joey.


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Interesting times In Indonesia

If the bombing in Bali has proven anything, it's that you don't have to co-operate with the U.S. in the WoT, but not doing so is worse in the long run. According to the CIA factbook, 42% of Indonesia's economy is service based, which basically means tourism. That's going to be in the toilet for a while, which ought to point out to the rest of Southeast Asia that allowing terrorists to operate without hindrance is a recipe for economic disaster.

The attack could also serve as an illustration of how well we are actually doing in the war on Al-Qaeda. All of their recent actions, assuming that the Maryland sniper is a home grown crazy, have come come in areas where the organization doesn't have to go very far from its base in order to attack the West. The shootings in Kuwait, the attack on the French tanker near Yemen and the explosion in Bali are a direct result of a dramatic reduction in Al-Qaeda's ability to project power. The consequences of this attack will include a further reduction in that power, as the Southeast Asian governments now have a powerful motive to root out the cells in their respective countries.

It's an open question whether Indonesia can follow such a path without falling into civil war. Despite charges of clear ties between Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah by neighboring countries, no one in Indonesia has officially said anything about Jemaah Islamiyah and the Bali bombing, even though three days before the Bali attacks the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, had threatened the Indonesian government with jihad. Up until the attack, many Muslim Indonesians summarily dismissed Western claims of internal terrorists, so we can expect them to seize at any number of straws in an attempt to save face. President Sukarnoputri can't depend on the military, which is still smarting from its defeat in East Timor. Her Vice President, Hamzah Haz, is the leader of the the Indonesia's largest Islamic political party, and paid a personal visit to Ba'asyir back in May, seeking his support for a run at the Indonesian presidency in 2004.

I suspect that a lot of what happens in the near future is going to depend on Hamzah Haz, as he balances plans for that run against the security and economy of the Indonesian state. Ba'asyir has already thrown down the gauntlet by declaring that the U.S. engineered the bombing in order to portray Indonesia as a terrorist haven. Arresting him will likely involve big repercussions, and how Hamzah jumps when those repercussions arise will determine how easy or hard clearing Al-Qaeda out of Indonesia will be. I'll bet that in any case the Australian military will be heavily involved in the area. That nightclub explosion is going to be Australia's 9/11, and will do a lot to bind that country even closer to the U.S. in future actions.


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Freak Freak Freak

Howdy Howdy Howdy! to our visitor from the Albany Law School, who came via a Google search for blog blog blog penis penis penis penis penetrate penetrate penetrate feel feel feel

I guess it's true, lawyers do everything in triplicate.


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Grabbing the Third Rail

William Safire on the Maryland sniper attacks.

Congress should make it easier to identify ammunition and the weapons of individual destruction that fire it. Gun registration's time has come.

If you think of Safire only as the token conservative on the op-ed pages of the NYT, this might come as a bit of a shock. This is because gun-control, like abortion, is portrayed by the the sides arguing over it as a black and white issue, where you are either on the side of the angels or on that of evil incarnate. It's not just the media's fault, even though the desire to tell a simple story helps to perpetuate that perception. The Brady Center and the NRA depend on that moral division for fundraising. The idea that those two will find some common ground on the issue is about as likely as Jane Fonda giving Rush Limbaugh slow, deep tongue kisses in front of the Vietnam War Memorial.

The large, sweaty man with the garish tie glared at her. His dark eyes were hungry, feral. Jane found him repellent, yet a frisson of delight trilled its way up her spine as he rubbed his thick, sausage-like fingers across his bald pate.

"Feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream," he growled.

Her breath quickened, and she swayed slightly, leaving a slight sheen of perspiration where her hips brushed up against the black marble. My god, she thought, that man needs some aerobic exercise. NO! He's...he's.... She grabbed his tie.

"C'mere fat man!" Jane pulled him in, her ribs creaking as his great bulk smashed her into the wall. Chubby hands lifted her up like a kitten as the crown around them stared, aghast...


Okay, you get the point.

In truth, Safire's has had a more subtle take on gun issues than one might expect for years.

Comes now the emergence of a constitutional middle ground. The Murky Second is thus interpreted as a state right sometimes and as an individual right at other times. One day it's James Madison, the next day it's Madison James.

That can't be right. Put another way, a right that is sometimes not a right is no right at all. After doing a great job on the First Amendment, the amending Founders botched the Second.

The intellectually lazy will say, "Let the Supremes sort it out." I say, let the people decide a political issue. Either we're serious about our right to gun ownership or we're serious about our need for gun control.

Here's how to fix a flawed amendment that is the source of so much confusion: Repeal its ambiguous preamble. Let some member of Congress introduce an amendment to strike the words before the comma in the Second Amendment.

Then vote the amendment up or down. If it fails to pass, stop arguing and compromise on nibbling. If Congress passes repeal, let ratification be fought out in the states, where representatives closest to the people can decide on strict licensing.

That's the decisive, constitutional way to come to grips with the abomination of too many handguns in trigger-happy hands.


Gun control is the third rail of warblogging. People who agree on many of the same issues on Iraq will pull out the long knives and start swinging once the topic switches from foreign policy to gun registration. But Safire's suggestion makes sense to me, and has the added value of attempting to force the gun debaters out of the well worn rhetorical ruts they're in now. Let gun control or no gun control programs bloom in 50 states, and we'll find sensible solutions to the problem one way or another.

If I were a the head of gun right's advocate group, or one of the nattering nabobs who regularly pop up on pundit TV, I'd be embracing that position. I think Safire is rushing to judgement too early on who is behind the shootings, but if the killer or killers do turn out to be home-grown, there's going to be a new clamor for gun control, and Republican administrations are just as likely to pass gun control bills as Democratic ones. Bush has already demonstrated a history of abandoning Republican ideals for political gain with his positions on steel tariffs and the farm bill. I don't see any reason why he wouldn't also turn equally feckless on gun control if Karl Rove told him it was politically expedient.

Failing Safire's solution, I have to say I would come down in favor of gun registration, two of the main arguments against which are "It won't work" and "Slippery slope." The first argument is at least partially correct in that it will do little to deter shootings, and will not aid in tracing down the culprit in every shooting. Of course, it will aid in tracing down the culprits in some shootings, and can also rule out suspects in others, something that would allow law enforcement authorities to focus resources on more likely leads. The slippery slope argument to me is a more potent one, summarized here.

Registration lists have led to gun confiscation in Australia, Bermuda, Cuba, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Jamaica, Soviet Georgia and other countries. It has also happened here, and the history of firearms registration in New York City is particularly instructive.

In 1967, New York City passed an ordinance requiring a citizen to obtain a permit to own a rifle or shotgun, which would then be registered. Concerns over the potential use of those registration lists to confiscate guns in the future were dismissed as paranoia. In 1991, gun owners' legitimate fears were realized, when the city passed a ban on the private possession of some semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, despite the police commissioner's testimony that no registered firearms of the types banned had been used in violent crimes in the city. New Yorkers who had been licensed earlier to possess semi-automatic rifles and shotguns were told that any licensed firearms that were covered by the ban had to be surrendered, rendered inoperable or taken out of the city. They were warned that they might be subject to "spot checks."


The slippery slope argument is persuasive because it states that once a government knows where the guns are it will eventually come to take the guns away. Essentially, a gun-rights advocate must fight any gun law that could theoretically lay the basis for a future law that results in a diminution of gun rights. It is an argument that relies at its base on a distrust in government, a sentiment which is hard to argue with. Were we living under an E.U. government, I would find the argument more appealing, but I think the divisions that have sprung up between the U.S. and Europe on the War on Terror have demonstrated exactly how far we are from a government with a European sensibility. Reasonable people may disagree with that statement, of course.

There are already reliable ways of telling who and who is not a gun owner if the government really wanted to start taking guns away. Hunting permits, for one, shooting club memberships for another. The government can already tell who many of the gun owners are, if the government decides it needs to. That particular privacy exists as a fiction only, so I don't see what other rights are taken away by a registration database for individual guns. Again, I'd prefer this to be on the state level, like automobile registration, for the the somewhat better efficiency in the process if nothing else.* There is also at least one case where a democracy registers guns but has not confiscated them en masse, Israel.



*I was ready to make a reference to the Niven short story "The Deadlier Weapon", but I couldn't find a good link.


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Who's Training Who?

Raising a child is an awesome responsibility............but beyond that it is a chance to teach a little kid neat tricks to impress your friends with. No, I don't think of my child as the family pet.........the pet's tricks aren't nearly as cool. But, in only the way that she can, the Bug lets me know that she is still in charge. Sure, I work and work on teaching a new trick, like saying, "Go State," or "Big poo-poo, da-da," but they are only cool if she shares them in front of other people.

Therein lies the problem. There are times when I swear she is just mad at me for something and decides that she is not going to show off her new trick, no matter what carrot you dangle in front of her..........although cookies do appear to be her kryptonite. Yep, friends come over, I've worked with her on a trick sure to impress the buddies and embarrass the wife, I ask my question of the Bug, and instead of showing off she does her best Michigan J. Frog impression and acts as though she cannot hear a word I am saying (Rrrribbitt!!). It is as though she has on earphones that do not allow the slightest bit of sound to permeate their lead walls.

So, we do her tricks when she wants to, and not a minute sooner. It's her world, I am only renting it.


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G-Force??

Oh, dear God, Nooooooooooooooooooo!!!! I thought this guy was dead. Apparently he is making more shitty music...........where is Vanilla Ice when you need him?


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10/13/2002




Relatively Speaking

Today felt lazy, even though the evidence in retrospect seems to rule against that interpretation. How any day could seem lazy when it revolved around a toddler who was up at 7, took no nap to speak of and was still shrieking in ecstasy and running around at 9 at night? We must have tag-teamed the child fairly well today, as there were no "must grit teeth and keep parenting" moments that I can recall. It helped that there was a third adult here for most of the morning, someone new to for Ngnat to force a tea party on while her parents levered open their wits with newspapers and coffee. I'm not sure where she got the idea that assorted hair bows, scrunchies and clips made an adequate replacement for scones and chocolate biscuits, but Uncle Kevin gamely fought through his hangover long enough to make polite conversation about extra lashings of sugar and cream in his entirely imaginary Earl Grey.

Wait, did I say hangover? Sorry, force of habit. Time was when we would have stayed up all night, accumulating a forest of beer bottles on the coffee table while we caroused until the wee hours, but that was a different Uncle Kevin. This Uncle Kevin fell asleep while sitting bolt upright on the sofa, after four beers, three hours before midnight. This was the same man who had complained less than an hour earlier that he always saw the end of a movie alone, as his wife inevitably fell asleep halfway through. Six minutes into Brotherhood of the Wolf and bam!, Mr. Sandman coshes him on the back of the head.

Having nothing better to do, I threw a blanket on him, went to bed and watched the rest of Trading Spaces with the wife, a woman who, not so long ago, would buy a pitcher just for herself five minutes before the 2:00 am last call at the karaoke bar. We were lights out and horizontal by 10:15.

I wouldn't trade what I have now for then, but it would be nice to go back and visit occasionally.

Uncle Kevin is no uncle, as people who know my family will swear, unless one of my parents was far more active back in the sixties than anyone would otherwise suspect. We have an odd tradition of awarding friends of the family a kind of technical relative status. I had an Uncle Max, an Uncle Jim and an Aunt Honey who I saw far more in my childhood than I did some of my real relatives. Liked them a lot better too. The actual definition of family with us is pretty amorphous, and depending on the circumstances can stretch from immediate family to cover the in-laws of in-laws as well as good friends. It drives the accountant wife up a wall, since she can never tell whether she is to prepare herself for a quiet evening with a small circle of relatives, or for something approaching the size of a Catholic wedding party.

We've had a "family" beach trip the past two years, where the first thing out of my father's mouth once we were settled in was "When's Kevin coming?" This year, the "family" beach trip included a cousin, his new wife and their two friends, whom we had never met. I cooked them scrambled eggs and made sure they had enough beer. Dad regaled them with a story from his childhood where he cons a man into buying a bag of turds for a dime, and the wife's head popped off and flew around the room, shrieking imprecations at the heavens.

I always figured that it was just another Southern thing, but the very mention of the practice causes visible shudders to travel up and down the wife's spine, so possibly it's just a leftover from Dad's early cracker days in Mississippi, when it was safest just assume you were related to everyone and not pry too deeply into the actual bloodlines. He does have double first cousins, a fact of which he is inordinately proud, and will not hesitate to share with you should the subject come up, or even when it does not. Another genealogical factoid that we're all pretty happy about is that he and the sainted wife are, according to Mom, the keeper of the ancestral records, 12th cousins. This of course makes Kehaar and I 13th cousins to my wife, a situation treasured by all involved with the singular exception of my wife.

She's learned to deal with it, except for the times when Kehaar tells Ngnat to call him "Uncle Cousin."


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Organized Littering

I have registered my first 20 books to be released into the wild at BookCrossing. They seem to be having some sort of problem with getting images from Amazon, so if the page hangs for more than a second, hit the stop button on your browser and it will display.

Thanks to The Oceanguy for the idea, even if it did take me a month and a half to get around to it.


Postscript: First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself. Also, you're currently at the old site. Fresh Hraka is posted every day at our current location.




Scholarship Money

I was perusing OpenSecrets.org to see who were the major contributors to the North Carolina candidates for the U.S. Senate. It is all very interesting, but one thing caught my eye and I find it more than a little infuriating: the University of North Carolina donated $12,500 dollars to Erskine Bowles campaign. Since when do taxpayer-funded public universities go around doling out tax money to political candidates? I understand that one candidate may do more than another to further the interests of the university, but in this day and age of universities poor-mouthing themselves and asking for handouts for this or that project, it seems to me that the money can be better used to actually educate University of North Carolina students. I do not think that a tax-funded institution like the University of North Carolina should be diverting taxpayer money to fund any political candidacy and I think that if the taxpayers of North Carolina got wind of something like this, they would be rightly indignant. I know I am,and I'll probably end up voting for Bowles. I can only imagine how Dole supporters might feel about this misuse of public funds.

And I can only hope that the $21,500 dollars from the State of North Carolina to the Bowles campaign are some kind of matching funds.

Update: Tony from Trojan Horseshoes noticed a disclaimer on the site that I did not:

HOW TO READ THIS CHART: This chart lists the top donors to each candidate so far in the current election cycle. The organizations themselves did not donate, rather the money came from the organization's PAC, its individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.
So, I am indignant for naught. But I'll leave the post anyway so people can check out OpenSecrets for themselves.

Postscript: First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself. Also, you're currently at the old site. Fresh Hraka is posted every day at our current location.




What the US President wants us to forget

I think that this deserves a good read from every American, whether they are pro-war or pro-peace.

The most interesting part to me was the role that Donald Rumsfeld played towards Iraq during the Reagan Administration. I also find interesting the oil industry connections of Bush and Cheney and other administration officials. Let's face it, the first Gulf War was all about oil, and the second will not be any different. I find it more than a little disturbing that Bush and Cheney stand to reap huge personal benefits by putting hundreds of thousands of American troops at risk. I think the view that the looming war with Iraq is all about weapons of mass destruction and terrorism is a little naive. All one has to do is look at the influence the oil industry has had on the administration so far, as far as the development of Bush's "energy policy", the continuing effort to open up the Alaskan Natural Wilderness Reserve for oil drilling, and even as far as the war in Afghanistan. Bush had another reason for going into Afghanistan: the Afghan oil pipeline and natural gas reserves. At least with the oil-pipeline in the works, you won't see the U.S. losing interest in Afghanistan any time soon, as some government critics fear. What does the oil pipeline mean? It means that big oil will have easy access to billions of people on the Asian Sub-Continent, which means big money. Think I'm full of shit? You should read Unocal Vice-President John J. Maresca's statement to the U.S. House of Representatives regarding a "new silk road". A sample:

In stark contrast to the other three markets (Europe, Russia, Ex-Soviet Asia), the Asia/Pacific region has a rapidly increasing demand for oil and an expected significant increase in population. Prior to the recent turbulence in the various Asian/Pacific economies, we anticipated that this region's demand for oil would almost double by 2010. Although the short-term increase in demand will probably not meet these expectations, Unocal stands behind its long-term estimates.

Energy demand growth will remain strong for one key reason: the region's population is expected to grow by 700 million people by 2010.

It is in everyone's interests that there be adequate supplies for Asia's increasing energy requirements. If Asia's energy needs are not satisfied, they will simply put pressure on all world markets, driving prices upwards everywhere.

Anyway, I personally don't think that all the oil in Iraq, and by all estimates there are trillions of gallons of it, is worth the lives of our American soldiers, hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, and the reputation of the United States as a nation that responds to provocation, not a nation that strikes preemptively when the oil companies tell us it's worth trillions of dollars to us. Of course, if we do (excuse me, I mean WHEN we do) invade Iraq, at least we'll be able to neutralize Saudi power in the area and trump France, Russia, and China for control of Iraq's oil.

I think the current administration is in the hip pocket of the oil industry, and maybe our whole nation is. It's why I agree with this speaker more and more every day: "the bottom line is I don't trust this president and his advisors"

Postscript: First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself. Also, you're currently at the old site. Fresh Hraka is posted every day at our current location.

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