Silflay Hraka

3/15/2003




Fish In A Barrel

I blame the media. Without a larger selection of quotes from today's war rally, I have no idea if these are the stupid anti-war protestors, or the smart ones.

"The Iraqi people are not our enemies -- they are our sisters and brothers," another Howard University student, Caneisha Mills, told the rally.

Either Ms. Mills is unaccustomed to thinking things through, in which case she's not doing much for the educational reputation of Howard, or she and her siblings spent most of their childhood chained up in a basement. There's a distressing amount of that about, I'm told. What's puzzling is why she wishes them to remain there.

First-time demonstrator Patty Crotau, 28, left her home in upstate New York on Friday afternoon and came to Washington by bus. The mother of two said she came because she believes the Bush administration's current stance is hypocritical.

"We're keeping everything we have in terms of weapons of mass destruction," she said. "I would hate to see it come to a point where this might come back to the U.S. and affect my children."


That bus fare might have been better spent on a newspaper, Patty. You might have seen this little story.

President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, meeting in Moscow May 24, signed a new treaty pledging to reduce and limit the number of strategic nuclear warheads held by their respective countries to between 1,700 and 2,200 and to do so by December 31, 2012.

A newspaper subscription, and perhaps a trip to the library every now and then, and your two children, who are lovely, I am sure, might escape the unhappy fate that has seemingly befallen you.

Now the obvious question, give the paucity of quotes. Is the media right wing, and bent on undermining the anti-war movement, or left wing, and covering for it?


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Eating An Animal For PETA Day

Cooked veal saltimbocca with wild rice tonight for dinner. The nutty flavor of the rice was a nice contrast to the saltiness of the prosciutto, but it was the caged misery that really made it flavorful. Diet Tab made an excellent palate cleanser.

Note to PETA: This was the first time that any of us could recall eating veal. The toddler loved it, and as she's damn picky about her food now, we'll probably have it again pretty soon.



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3/14/2003




Drawing A Blank

In case you're wondering about the pictures, they're hosted on UNC servers, which are down for maintenance right now.

And yes, that means I'm still at work.

And yes, that means I missed the game.


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She's Not Heavy, She's My Wife

Reaching my limit on political information, I gladly opened this week's Sports Illustrated and something immediately caught my eye. Now, I realize that sporting activities are not usually a popular blogging topic, with most of the space going to issues of war and the like. But this was just too odd not to blog, and I hope that some of you will think so as well.

Apparently, there is something called the Wife Carrying Championships, and it is for real. The husband (although I guess it could be the most masculine "partner" as well) literally carries the wife through a course, which this year included two hurdles and wading through a water pit. The position in which the husband carries the wife is like a backwards 69 type of thing, with her face sitting very near to his butt, as this picture illustrates.

I thought it sounded kind of lame until I realized that the winners walk away with cash equal to 5 times the wife's weight, as well as her weight in Redhook Beer. I'm already starting to get in shape for next year.

Here are more pictures for your viewing pleasure. See you at next year's event!!!!


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Wide Open Spaces Between Their Ears

The Dixie Chicks website has been down for the last hour. I wonder why?*

Why the ruckus, especially when there's been an unending parade of artists condemning the war for months now? I expect that it's because people expect this sort of thing from actors and rock musicians, but expect a entirely different type of reaction from country music performers in times of crisis. It's quite a slap in the face; they were expecting Charlie Daniels and Lee Greenwood and getting Sinead O'Connor instead.

The Chicks are scheduled to play an April concert in Kansas City, where the country music radio stations have started a boycott after hundreds of fans called in to protest the remarks. The Chicks are far more popular than Sinead ever was, so it will be interesting to see whether the masses forgive them or boo them off the stage.


*It's since been redirected to Yahoo, whose servers can presumably better handle the load.


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Hostile Workplace

Anybody who lives in North Carolina and schedules a meeting for 3:00pm on the Friday of the ACC Tournament should be punished severely. It's all about priorities and some people obviously don't have them. Maybe I'll go start a movement and yell "Norma Rae, Norma Rae" at the top of my lungs...............or I'll just go have a movement and be at my meeting on time.


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Creating Cablinasians

Every now and then, not often, but occasionally, there is a simple solution to some of problems faced by society. It's just that people are too blind to see what's right in front of them. Take the Interracial Marriage Gender Gap, for example. This one's a gimme.

"Shinichi, I'd like to introduce you to Sheniqua. Shinichi, Sheniqua. Sheniqua, Shinichi. I just know you two have a lot in common."


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Ahoy, Me Hearties!


Arrrrrrr.

Lend me now your stump of an ear,
me foul brethren of the sea.
Avast yer drinkin' and yer wenchin',
and hearken ye now to me.
For tis a good yarn I have to tell;
of the cunning Japanee.

They sail upon the seven seas,
in vessels big and tiny.
With cargo holds right brimming full
of treasure; round and shiny.
Treasure, I say, to put an industry in
a grave that's deep and briny.

I tell ye it is fair to look upon
the sun rising in the morn.
And it gladdens the cockles of me heart
to capture a maid wellborne.
But the thing I ever wish to see, is
damned Rosen bereft, forlorn.

So man the guns ye buccaneers
a full broadside shall we fire.
And sink that rotting music hulk
with our rippling cannon choir.
Then after the lubbers burn and drown?
Free music we'll acquire.

Arrrrrrr.


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Organ Grinding

The relationship between France and Iraq, explicated at last




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3/13/2003




Is That An Axe In Your Pocket, Or......

They've got something to put in you, at the Gay Bar.


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Number Two With A Bullet

Madonna, posing in a scene from the video sequel to her phenomenal single "Vogue"



Fart

Strike a match, strike a match
(Fart fart fart fart fart)

Look around, everyone you know, their butt aches
It’s everywhere that you go (lift a leg)
You try everything you can to deny the smell of gas that you know
(Nobody has to know)
If all else fails and you long to be smelling better than you are today
I know a place where you can get away
It's an elevator and here’s what it’s for so

All you need is your own constipation
So use it that’s what it’s for (that’s what it’s for)
Go inside for your finest flatulation
Your wind will open the door (open the door)
It makes no difference if you’re black or white if you’re a boy or a girl
If the gas is pumping it will give you new life
You are an ass guitar yes that’s what you are you know it

Come on fart (fart)
Let your asshole make its own music (make its own music!)
Hey hey hey come on fart (fart)
Let your rectum go with the flow go with the flow
You know you can do it

Booty where you smell it
Not just where you bump and grind it
My turds are musical
That’s where I feel so beautiful magical
Life’s a gas so get on the elevator

Come on fart (fart)
Let your asshole make its own music (make its own music!)
Hey hey hey come on fart (fart)
Let your rectum go with the flow go with the flow
You know you can do it

Flatulence is where you find it!
Flatulence is where you find it!

Greta Garbo and Monroe Dietrich and DiMaggio
Marlon Brando Jimmy Dean
Silent but deadly was their routine
Grace Kelly Harlow Jean
Queefing like a beauty queen
Gene Kelly Fred Astaire
Ginger Rogers passed some air
They broke wind all over the place
Rita Hayworth, right in your face
Lauren Katherine Lana too
Bettie Davies turned Clark blue
Ladies with an attitude
Felias that were in the mood

Don’t just stand there let’s get to it
Strike a match there’s nothing to it
Fart (fart) fart (fart)


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Please, Pardon the Intrusion.........BOO-YAH!

Beer of the Night - Olde Suffolk English Ale.

Beer of the Night came real close to being Two Glasses of Scotch Night. This was in my email when I got home tonight (personal info munged)

Dear Bigwig,

Saw your French military timeline and loved it. We're doing our own French skewer for our July issue, and we'd love to run your timeline if you'd be willing to sell it. Also, we're always looking for good humor writers. Don't know if your committed full time to Silflay Hraka, but if you're interested in pitching us ideas, or perhaps an assignment sometime, we'd think you'd be great in the mix.

My number is ###-###-####. I'm on a tight deadline with the French piece. If you could let me know as soon as possible I'd appreciate it a lot.

Yours truly,

##### #####
Editor-at-Large
Maxim Magazine
######## at maximmag.com


Suspicious and paranoid man that I am, I ignored the pitter-patter of little duck feet under my sternum and checked the headers for the originating machine. That particular post has generated more than a little antipathy from certain brie loving Sartre readers, and I'd hate to have the friends of Les Chameau pull one over one me.

Received: from webmail.dennispub.com (webmail.dennispub.com [63.116.60.32]) by ncmx02.mgw.rr.com (8.12.5/8.12.5).

Okay, so dennispub sounds ok, could be a publishing company. Let's try www.dennispub.com, see what that brings up.....c'mon, baby needs a new pair of something.......hot friggety damn!

So I called them. I'll let you know if anything happens.

Zod: Like they could stop you.
Ah, it's not that big a deal.
Zod: Barely even worth mentioning.
It's a slow night.
Zod: Such a small matter. You'll probably forget all about it.
Probably will.
Zod: Not worth even cashing the check, really.
Hey, let's not go crazy, here.
Zod: I'm not the one talking to me, if you get my drift.
Not any longer.

It's very good scotch, but so far I've saved it for friends, so I pulled the Olde Suffolk out of the beer fridge. It being the closest beer equivalent to aged whiskey in the house at the moment. It's a mixture of two ales, one of which is aged for two years in oak casks. It's possible to taste them separately, but you have to know the brewer. I've had it before, back in the dot-com era when the Sainted Wife and I were flush with cash and unflush with children, days long ago when I had a membership in Michael Jackson's beer club. No, not that one. I shudder to think what he would send out in the mail.

The Olde Suffolk is as dark as a porter, so by my theory it should be at least as complex. Unfortunately, now that I've reached the review portion of the post, I find that the beer is gone. From memory, then. Good Bouquet, good head, kind of a hoppy/coffee overtone, which tasted better than it sounds. I'm worried that it was a slight touch of the problem that the Caledonian did last night, in that it's a winter beer and we're moving on towards spring, but if so, it wasn't nearly as bad. I got them both at the same place, at the Frugal MacDoogals just south of Charlotte, and while they carry a great variety of beer unavailable in NC, they strike me as being more concerned with quantity than quality. Not that I have much of choice. There's not a lot of beer specialty stores near Rock Hill that I know of.


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Lasy Boy

Normally another bunny blogs about the weapons systems, but the Airborne Laser System has been at the back of my mind since a mixed group of B-52's and B-1's were deployed to Guam last week, for use in case North Korea decided to act up while U.S. forces were busy in Iraq. That announcement, combined with the evident insouciance of the Bush administration about North Korean missile launches and a vague recollection of some sort of aircraft mounted laser system all combined to make me wonder if the announcement was a cover for the deployment of the system.

I was wrong, or at least probably wrong, as Google showed me pretty quickly. First of all, the laser is mounted on a modified Boeing 747 rather than a B-52, B-1B or one of our bat-winged harbingers of war. Second, the main laser supposedly hasn't been delivered yet, though the targeting laser has. Given the current situation, I don't think anyone would make an announcement if it was delivered ahead of schedule, and the timeline mentioned in the Popular Science article is not the same as the original one, which had the system undergoing its final tests in 2003, though this may have been due to budget difficulties.

Almost certainly the system has been given a much higher priority since the escalation of the Korean crisis, if it already hadn't been bumped it up in the funding queue by the Bush administration. If what the Pop Sci article says is true, and the majority of the challenge is in integrating mature systems, then throwing money at the program could indeed speed up production dramatically. Integration of mature systems is an engineering challenge, not a scientific one, and engineering challenges are readily affected by large amounts of money.

The only rational thing to do is to assume that the published timeline is more or less correct, and that the system won't be deployed before 2008.

But that would be boring, so I've decided to be mostly irrational, with perhaps a touch of paranoia.

Zod: We'll be able to tell the difference how?
Hush, I'm too busy for you. Go back to looking at the NSFW links at Fark

So, for those of you still here, consider the news page at the Airborne Laser home site. Unupdated since July 18 , 2002. Or the events page, which is also still stuck in 2002, as is the milestones page. ( The Wichita flight testing has already been completed.) Finally, and most ominously, the
Program Plan page, which is being.....cue spooky music.....revised.

Here's another page with some decent pics of that 747, the YAL-1A.

Has anyone seen it lately?


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"High"er Education

Now this is more like what college is supposed to be about, except this dude isn't a student, he's the college president.


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Ecosystem Out of Balance

It starts out innocently enough with this, and before long it turns into this. You have been warned.


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Spit Take

Beer of the Night - Caledonian Golden Promise, the world's first organic beer, apparently.

Well, it could have used some of those fancy non-organic preservatives, if you ask me. The beer wasn't skunked, but it was an aged and infirm beer. Little to no head, which is always a warning sign, and all the high ester notes you'd expect in an ale were just not there, having all decayed into a bitter puddle of aftertaste that would not depart from my taste buds despite repeated water chasers. There's no freshness or expiration date on the bottle, unless the mysterious "1232 03C" on the back label means something. It's apparently a very good ale when fresh, so I seem to have drawn the short straw with this particular bottle.


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3/12/2003




H.M.S. Surprise

A hearty welcome to the rather unexpected but very appreciated torrent of visitors from Murph's Place. The Crowe post you are looking for is here.


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Just Switch The Hair Colors

Hey, Look! Sainted Wife and I made the funny papers!



One of the reasons I bought the Ibook was that Sainted Wife was tired of sitting alone in the living most nights while I dashed upstairs to "check my e-mail" for thirty minutes at a time. So, in the interest of familial togetherness, I set up a wireless network and bought a new laptop.

The sacrifices I make for my family. I'm a saint, I tell you. Why, she'll probably appreciate this act of selflessness for years to come.

I wonder if she feels indebted enough to get up and get me a beer.

Update: No.


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Legal!

This week's Carnival of the Vanities is at Wylie Blog.

Upcoming Carnival stops include;

March 26th Dancing with Dogs
April 2nd Go Fish
April 9th Solonor's Ink Well
April 16th Billegible
April 23th The Kitchen Cabinet
April 30th Clubbeaux
May 7th Common Sense and Wonder
May 14th The Inscrutable American
May 21st Cut On The Bias
May 28th Dean's World

If you'd like to host the Carnival, drop us a line. Information on how to join the Carnival can be found here.


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24 Hour, Cross Your Heart Support

Dennis Roger's column was the first thing I ever remember reading in the News and Observer. For better or worse, he and editorial cartoonist Jody Powell are what I judge other papers by. Neither are national heavyweights, but they're both solid regional pros. And maybe Dennis at least deserves a wider audience.

He published this column today today on on supporting the troops.

Don't bother telling me or them that the best way to support soldiers and their families is to bring the troops home. That won't happen. Rightly or wrongly, the troops know that despite of the protests, diplomatic maneuvers and jokes about France, the road home to Fayetteville, Jacksonville, Havelock and Goldsboro most likely runs through Baghdad.

And don't bother telling me, as some of you did in your angry e-mail, that you do support the soldiers even as you rail against the commander in chief who sent them to war.

I'm sure you believe that, and good for you, but that is not the way it looks out where our soldiers are locked and cocked. What I'm afraid sticks in their hearts is that they are being asked to protect fellow Americans who in return cheapen their sacrifice by saying it is about oil, the president's father, Texas macho or an illegal president too stupid to know better.

So they wait in the awful desert, hearing how the world is worried about Iraqi civilians, but nobody mentions little North Carolina girls holding up pictures of their absent daddies.

All jokes aside, as much as I respect some protesters and even share some of their doubts, I cannot stand with them. I was a soldier for eight years. I know how it hurts to be abandoned by your countrymen. I will not do that to these Americans.

So I stand beside a little girl and tell her that her country is as proud of her daddy as she is.

I stand beside lonely military spouses who must ease the midnight fears and kiss away the tears and find the courage to face their uncertain futures.

And I stand beside our soldiers so they'll know that if they must die, some of us believe it will be for something more worthy than presidential pique.


N.C. blogger Cold Fury and another little military girl have put together a site listing some ot the companies that believe the same thing, companies that are not only holding the jobs of their Reservist and Guardsmen employees open as long as they're deployed, but have gone the extra mile to make sure the deployment doesn't hurt that soldier's family financially, either by making up the difference between their employee's military pay and civilian salary, or by simply paying the reservist his or her full civilian salary.

In a time when American companies register in Bermuda to avoid paying the taxes that support these soldiers, the companies listed at The Home Front deserve more than your applause. They deserve your business.


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Wow

SETI@Home identifies possible candidate signals.

Update Okay, so now that I've actually read the article, it's still cool, but not nearly as "Wow".


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How Toxic is your City

Check out the pollution locator service put out by the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG). You can access carcinogen, dioxin, neurological, reproductive, developmental and respirator toxin maps. The maps don't give a lot of details, but the downloadable Excel spreadsheets give the amount of toxins in tons released in any given zip code or county, or by industrial facility. I, thankfully, happen to live in a city that seems to be a watering hole for various toxins. No wonder I have those weird scabs all over my body. And I think I might be developing a second evil head.


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Do some good

CNN reports that the U.S. Senate is within one vote of passing a measure that would allow oil companies to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The article states that there are four Senators that are key to the vote: Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, both of Arkansas, Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Oregon, and freshman Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota.

Interior Secretary and a GOP memo both spoke of the importance of letting these "fence sitting" Senators hear from constituents about this issue. With that thought in mind, here's how you can contact the aforementioned Senators to let them know how you feel about developing the oil resources of the ANWR.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln
lincoln.senate.gov/webform.html
(202) 224-4843

Sen. Mark Pryor
senator@pryor.senate.gov
(202) 224-2353

Sen. Gordon Smith
gsmith.senate.gov/webform.htm
(202)224-3753

Sen. Norm Coleman
opinion@coleman.senate.gov
202-224-5641

Additional contact information such as fax numbers and snail mail addresses can be found on the Web site of each Senator.

Whether you are for or against drilling in the ANWR, I hope you will take the time to make your voice heard.

I myself am against drilling in the ANWR. I think it's questionable as to whether there is enough oil in the ANWR to justify the risk to a fragile and rare ecosystem. Depending on who you believe, the ANWR holds between 1.9 and 10 billion barrels of developable oil resources. And it's a "Wildlife Refuge". Why did they set that land aside in the first place, if not to protect it from corporate development? I've already emailed the Senators above, and I signed the anti-drilling petition at EnvironmentalDefense.org. I'll let you educate yourself on the issue by following the links below. Sorry, but there are a lot more groups against than for, apparently.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Artic Refuge: Oil and Gas Issues (Governmental and Informational. Less likely to be biased towards one side of the argument, maybe.)
Artic Power (pro-drilling)
ANWR News (anti-drilling, pro-oil workers. Interesting site. Outlines some BP miscues in another Alaskan drilling area.)
Save The Artic Refuge (anti-drilling)
National Resources Defense Council (anti-drilling)
Alaska Wilderness League (anti-drilling)
Defenders of Wildlife (Take a stab at it. I think you can guess.)
Sierra Club (pro-drilling. Okay, just kidding. They're anti-drilling.)
U.S. Department of the Interior (pro-drilling.)

There are plenty more, but that should be more than enough to help you educate yourself about the issue. Now go and make your voice heard.


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Anchors Aweigh

Beer of the Night - Original Flag Porter, brewed with yeast from 1825, salvaged from a sunken vessel in the English Channel. I tell you, if that doesn't make your tongue tingle.....then you must find the idea of beer brewed with salty, ancient and waterlogged yeast unappetizing.

I, on the other hand, find that immensely appealing, so I guess I'm the target market, though I fail to understand how a beer brewed for Horatio Hornblower and Jack Aubrey fans is going to make any profit whatsoever. Certainly we'll buy whatever trinkets and crap are thrown our way, but there's just not that many of us. Very few posses the requisite appetite needed to consume 30 odd books set in the early 19th century British Navy. Very few will....well, read this first, from Master and Commander

The weather had freshened almost to coldness, for the wind was coming more easterly, from the chilly currents between Tristan and the Cape; the sloth was amazed by the change; it shunned the deck and spent its time below. Jack was in his cabin, pricking the chart with less satisfaction than he could have wished: progress, slow, serious trouble with the mainmast-- unaccountable headwinds by night-- and sipping a glass of grog; Stephen was in the mizentop, teaching Bonden to write and scanning the sea for his first albatross. The sloth sneezed, and looking up, Jack caught its gaze fixed upon him; its inverted face had an expression of anxiety and concern. 'Try a piece of this, old cock,' he said, dipping his cake in the grog and proffering the sop. 'It might put a little heart into you.' The sloth sighed, closed its eyes, but gently absorbed the piece, and sighed again.

Some minutes later he felt a touch upon his knee: the sloth had silently climbed down and it was standing there, its beady eyes looking up into his face, bright with expectation. More cake, more grog: growing confidence and esteem. After this, as soon as the drum had beat the retreat, the sloth would meet him, hurrying toward the door on its uneven legs: it was given its own bowl, and it would grip it with its claws, lowering its round face into it and pursing its lips to drink (its tongue was too short to lap). Sometimes it went to sleep in this position, bowed over the emptiness.

'In this bucket,' said Stephen, walking into the cabin, 'in this small half-bucket, now, I have the population of Dublin, London, and Paris combined: these animalculae-- what is the matter with the sloth?' It was curled on Jack's knee, breathing heavily: its bowl and Jack's glass stood empty on the table. Stephen picked it up, peered into its affable bleary face, shook it, and hung it upon its rope. It seized hold with one fore and one hind foot, letting the others dangle limp, and went to sleep.

Stephen looked sharply round, saw the decanter, smelt to the sloth, and cried, 'Jack, you have debauched my sloth.'


Very few will laugh out loud at that, I was going to say, but I could be wrong. For one, I'd be arguing with Russell Crowe and Peter Weir, who obviously think people will like it just fine.

This started out about beer, didn't it? That's the problem with blogging under the influence. All sorts of extraneous themes creep in. Why, in a moment, I'll start blathering on about the Ibook I bought today, and my transformation in a pale, tiny and bitter shadow of Lileks will be complete.

Except that I didn't buy it because I'm a mac freak. I bought it to further my quest to own or work on every OS,and it was either that or XP. Since XP boxes have been regularly crashing the UNC campus wide network since the beginning of the fall semester, I figured I'd go with the Mac.

And it shor is purty.

Beer. Must. wrench. helm. back. to. original. theme.

I've always thought of porter as one of the more complex beer types. I could be completely wrong; it's based on a gut feeling rather than actual knowledge. My rule of thumb is that the harder it is to see through a beer, the more you can bullshit about it to your friends.

Wait, that's not right.

Ahem. The harder it is to see through a beer, the more complexity it offers, and porters are surpassed only by stouts in that category. The Flag Porter does contain a variety of flavors, ranging from an initial bitter coffee bite to smooth black currant finish. I can't tell you much of about the bouquet, I've been moving books into the attic all night, and dust has clogged my olfactory receptors.*

That's my review. Here's a real one. In case you're wondering, I don't read them before I write mine. That would be cheating, and I'm all about rules all of a sudden.

*Thanks to an intensive and imaginative reorganization of the attic, I have managed to save most of my collection, including the ones I thought were gone for sure.


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3/11/2003




Call and Response

Yesterday, in the face of threatened French and Russian vetoes, the United States and Britain delayed a vote in the Security council on a resolution giving Iraq until March 17th to completely disarm. Minutes afterward, Iraqi fighter planes forced two American U-2 spy planes out of the air.

The U-2 planes were flying missions at 2 a.m. Iraqi time for the U.N. weapons inspectors when Iraq (news - web sites) launched fighter jets. According to two of the officials, the threat was directed against one of the two planes, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.
.........................
The U.N. inspection agency, known, as UNMOVIC, had given advance notice to Iraq of the flights, said the U.S. official.


As far as Saddam is concerned, he's winning. Every inch that the U.S. and Britain give to the Security Council refuseniks is taken by Saddam as a further sign that things are going his way, and that he will weather this crisis as he as the others before.

He's wrong, I think, but that's neither here nor there. The problem with playing along with Iraqi/French strategy of delay is that the longer the United States stands on the precipice, the longer Saddam has to prepare for the onslaught. His preparations won't effect the war's outcome in general, but it will change the outcome for specific individuals, both Iraqi and American, in that they're going to die when they wouldn't have a month ago, or a week ago.

The longer George Bush sits dithering on the brink, the longer Saddam has to prepare and position his forces, to booby trap his approaches and oil fields. Those defenses are going to kill people, Iraqi and American alike, where they wouldn't have a month ago, because a month ago they didn't exist. Every hour that goes by is another hour where explosives are laid, poisonous gas is manufactured, and bacilli are bred. Every hour is another bullet, aimed at the heart of an American groundpounder or Iraqi conscript.

It's all well and good to seek United Nations approval for a war the U.S. is going to prosecute anyway, but how many lives is the support of Chile worth? How many American soldiers will die because France feels compelled to throw its weight around? How many Iraqis will die because the German Chancellor is pandering to the left in order to draw attention away from his dismal economic record?

How many people will die because George Bush wasn't enough of a cowboy?


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Dropping Like Flies

I do have concerns regarding our impending war with Iraq and nothing is happening to help relieve those concerns. I have read for months that even without support the U.S. must take on this battle alone in order to protect ourselves and the world. We obviously don't have support from France and Germany, but then, as many of you have noted on your own blogs, who cares? They have long histories of losing wars. But now, there appears to be a growing movement, albeit slowly, that shows a lack of support in our own country. I'm not talking about the lame-ass nude protests or various celebrities who are riding the peace train, but instead persons within our government who are resigning their positions in opposition to this war. It's not that I think our government will collapse as a result of their resigning, but the message being sent is a troubling one, and the messages being heard by other nations is one of failing support for Bush's handling of this crisis.


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Dying With Style

I was wasting some time at work, trying to entertain myself on this overcast day, when I ran across this website. It is a compilation of some of the weirdest deaths in the last few years. Here is one of my favorite examples:

Roger Wallace, 60, was flying his radio-controlled plane near Tucson, Arizona, on 18 May when he turned toward the sun and lost sight of it. The plane, which weighed nearly 7lb (3kg) and had a wingspan of nearly 5ft (1.5m), then flew into his chest, killing him.

More of the same can be found at the site of strange deaths.


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3/10/2003




A League Of Her Own

I've come up with a new bedtime song for Ngnat, one that's descended from the "Who’s daddy’s pretty girl?" school of musical thought. Most of the songs I sing to her are made up on the spot, and don't have much of a life span longer than it takes to sing them for the first time. Some last a week or two, like the tune I sang to her when she first moved to the two year olds classroom. She was the youngest, and there's lots of biters at that age, so each morning's parting had its full share of tears and recriminations.

I eventually discovered that letting her pick a toy to take with her each day prevented the majority of the tears. Getting her to look forward to the day was the rest of the battle, and that was taken care of when new words to "Ta ra ra boom de ay" bubbled up to the surface one morning.

We're.....going..... to....school today!
and you will run and play.
You'll laugh the day away!
Hurray for school, hurray!


As long as Ngnat had her toy, and I carried her and sang that tune over and over again, all the way from the car, down the steps and to the two year old's room, she was happy.

Byebye dadee! huway!

Eventually she decided she didn't need her toy of the day, and instead of being carried she started running to the church door to open it herself. She only gives me her hand to walk down the stairs now because I insist. Such a big girl, and big girls don't need to be sung to in order to go to day care.

Big girl she may be, but big girl independence vanishes once storytime is over and bedtime is nigh.

"Don't ever leave me, mommy." she told her mother last night, which immediately translated into another ten minutes of cuddle time before the Sainted Wife left her.

It also translated into a couple hours of the Sainted Wife worrying about dying in childbirth and abandoning her baby to the care of a man who lets her put on orange socks whenever she wants. I'm positive the Sainted Wife thinks that she is the only thing standing between Ngnat and Marla Hoochdom. For all I know, she's right, though it's much more likely that I would raise a geek than a baseball player. I'll be happy no matter what, as long as I can get her through the teen years without the world ripping out her confidence. I'll build her defenses as high as I can before middle school and the years just after start to tear them down, and hope for the best.

Every night, just before I kiss her good night, I lay another brick. No real tune to it, though the last two lines are to the chorus of "Waltzing Matilda"

Who's Daddy's pretty girl? My Ngnat is.
Who's Daddy's funny girl? My Ngnat is.
Who's Daddy's smartest girl? My Ngnat is.
Who's Daddy's bravest girl? My Ngnat is.

My Ngnat is pretty, My Ngnat is strong,
My Ngnat has a special Daddy song
And he sings it to her when she lies down to sleep at night.
My Ngnat's special nighttime daddy song.


I recorded it, just to see what it sounds like, and my God is it ever horrible. Beauty must lie in the ear of the beholder though, because for now Ngnat insists on it every night. It'll be gone soon enough, to be replaced by something else, until she's big enough to wish Daddy would keep his mouth shut.


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Beer Catchup

I'm of the opinion that no one actually reads the beer entries, which is fine with me. I needed something to take the place of entering data into the beer database, and this has turned out to be it. It helps to set a particular beer memory into the framework, so that if called upon, I can bore perfect strangers at parties with my hops recollections.

Beer of the Night - Fraoch Heather Ale. The label has always put me off this beer. It's very dark green and Celtic, but from a distance it always appeared something like a Food Lion brand generic to me, and I'm not buying anything from Food Lion. That whole ABC meat business aside, their stores are dirty, the service is deadeningly glacial, and I once saw fruit flies over the produce at the one location I had no choice in buying from for over a month. Any place I see drosophila melanogaster at for that long has lost my business for all time.

So, the label was an unpleasant association for me, but the beer is incredible. For me to actually review it right now would mean I'd have to go get a third one, and as tempting is that is, I'm too old for three beers on a work night.* It's a beer you pour, and then sip, and sip, and then much to your surprise it's gone. The second vanishes just as quickly. It's the smoothest beer I've had in months, a gossamer dew of a brew.

That's my review, here's a real one.

Beer of Last Night- Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale. Yes, I'm a sucker for labeling. But the beer is good. Just ask the cat.

*Not that I couldn't handle it. I could handle it and eight more, buddy, then a case after that, and......and then I'd fall asleep and not wake up when the fire started, or the burglars broke in, or terrorists attacked. I'd die, but worse than that, I'd let my daughter down.

Parenthood is a terrible thing.


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Silflay Hraka: They're Rabbits. They're.....Detectives

Thanks to awesome power of Google, Alexandra from Bristol Myers Squibb ran across my post on the similarities between blogging and the early career of career of Rudyard Kipling while looking for the post card that first popularized the joke

"I say Felicity, do you like Kipling?"
"I don't know, you naughty boy. I've never Kippled!"


Sadly, I was unable to find a postcard site that listed that card as part of the current inventory, I was able to find a copy of the original image, however.

Here you go, Alexandra.



If you desperately need the original, I'd check e-bay and www.vintagepostcards.com, daily. Both have searches that will accept 'kippled" as a term. If you just want it as a post card, kidnap the image above and take to Ad Graphics. They'll make your postcard for you.



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The Homeowner's Association

The Sainted Wife's parents gave her a birthday party Saturday night. More about that later, I suppose. What struck me at the time was that I had no idea how old she was. I still don't. I mean, I could work it out if I wanted to. I know when she was born, so it's just a matter of arithmetic. It's just not knowledge that I retain. What I keep is my head is the method by which to obtain that knowledge, when needed, and for some reason my psyche considers that to be enough. Other than Ngnat, I'm in that same situation with every single one of my relatives. I can tell you how old they are, but only after going through the requisite mental computation, and only then if I know the the year they were born.

That's bad enough, but it gets worse. As of this moment, I don't know exactly how old I am. Late thirties is all I can tell you without going through the computation, and I've so far managed to prevent that particular thought process from completing, which is a lot like trying to prevent myself from thinking about elephants when told not to.


DON'T THINK ABOUT ELEPHANTS!

See? That's actually not a fair comparison, as picturing an pachyderm in ones mind is pretty much an automatic reaction on being told not to think of one. It's much easier to prevent the imagination of a sequence of events involving an elephant, as if you were told not to think about an elephant turning over the jeep of a National Geographic documentary filmmaker, then beating him to death with a camera tripod before stripping his flayed corpse of its clothes, draping the bloody rags over his tusks and trumpeting in triumph.

It's much easier to interrupt a process than a reaction, as Congress and the U.N. know all too well.

For the processes of diplomacy or politics to work, all of the involved parties have to agree to participate until the process reaches the end it is designed to produce, whether that is the disarming of Iraq or the appointment of a judicial nominee to a federal court. The problem is that it has become increasingly common for one or more of the participants to decide that the result of a particular series is unacceptable, that sand should be thrown into the gears somehow, regardless of the fact that this might hurt the saboteur himself in the long run.

The French brandishing of a possible Security Council veto on Iraq, and the Democratic filibuster on the Estrada nomination are both illustrations of such a decision. The difference between the two is that while the administration is legally bound to remain in the process with the Estrada nomination, it is not on Iraq. A violation of the rules governing the domestic political process can result in a premature loss of power. Ask Nixon, if you need an example. A violation of the accepted rules regarding the international diplomatic process just pisses people off, not that the Bush administration has done so, yet.

Despite the protests and editorials about a unilateral approach, the Bush administration has done exactly what the United Sates has done more often than not since the end of World War II, which is to seek the approval of the United Nations before acting. If we act without such approval, it will be the last step taken, not the first.

Domestically, the federal judiciary nominations process has been stymied for years, as each party takes turns doing all it can to sink the nominations of the party in power, as if the current balance of power was going to become the permanent state of affairs. When it comes to the federal judiciary, both Republicans and Democrats prefer the short term success of defeating or delaying the other's appointees to the long range functioning of the judiciary, which is what the process is supposed to ensure. The current idea that "we have to block all of their nominees because they blocked all of ours" only erodes the power and efficiency of the judicial branch.

The Republicans and Democrats, because of this cynical manipulation of the nomination process, have taught Americans not to trust the judiciary in the least, which is why so many find it not only easy to castigate and deride the Supreme Court's 2000 election decision, but to question the motives and loyalty of the justices themselves. *

In the end, the domestic process will go on because delaying it for too long has consequences. Even if some of them are largely theoretical, there are enough real negative consequences to keep both parties somewhat honest. There are no such consequences on as far as the U.N. is concerned, which is why no country, whether it be France or the United States, is under any real compunction to play by the rules, though they are perfectly content to point out to their domestic audiences how the other guy is subverting the will of the United Nations, either by refusing to enforce decisions(The United States on France), or by subverting their intent (France on the United States). All of that is basically rhetoric; it is much easier to gauge how much a particular country has bought into in the diplomatic process on Iraq by its actions.

What consequences there are, say for ignoring 12 year of resolutions demanding that one destroy one's weapons of mass destruction, come about not because of France or Germany or Russia or China, but because of the United States and Britain. The U.S. is not only the U.N.'s host and main financier, but the primary enforcer, which makes the United States the guarantor of the primary international diplomatic process. The main beneficiary of this support has been the rest of the world, especially Europe, which has been at peace since the United States assumed that role. The Unites States has been the Atlas holding up the United Nations for more than 40 years. To describe the U.S. as contemptuous of that body doesn't even rise to the level of an insult. It's just stupid; empty rhetoric served up to the politically ignorant by the politically frustrated.

What does it say about the current state of affairs when the guarantor of the United Nations is about to abandon it as unworkable on the major question of the day? It's not because the process is about to produce a result that the Bush Administration doesn't care for, but because the process is supposed to disarm Iraq, and a rejection of the American/British/Spanish resolution would, if adhered to by the Bush and Blair administrations, produce exactly the opposite result. The United States is going to participate in the process until it decides the time has come to ignore the process, because doing so illumines the fact that others are bent on subverting it.

The United States would have to withdraw its troops, and within a year or two Saddam would have kicked out the weapons inspectors, again. This is not a prediction, it is a pattern. For 12 years the U.S. did little to nothing about Iraq while the U.N. passed resolution after resolution on disarmament, and Saddam ignored them. Only after the Bush administration deployed a huge number of troops did Saddam allow the inspectors access to incomplete information and a minimal number of weapons. The key words in resolution 1441 were immediate and complete disarmament, not limited and drawn out disarmament.

If the Security Council vote goes France's way, the United Nations would have prevented the United States from carrying out the intentions of....the United Nations.

Due to the very immensity of its nature, the U.S. troop deployment is finite in nature, so if Saddam can outlast it, he can go back to subverting 1441 as soon as they are gone. That's bad enough. but what is worse is that France, Germany, Russia and China know this as well, and are perfectly happy to bring that result about. They have clearly decided that damaging the United Nations is worth sticking a thumb in the eye of the United States. They will likely regret that decision, sooner and later.

Despite the clear intentions of the Security Council 4, the rest of the world is perfectly happy to blame the current situation on the cowboy Bush. However, while it is perfectly logical to assume most of his administration came into power viewing the UN with a jaundiced eye, there is absolutely no evidence that the United States has ever considered abandoning the process at the United Nations. The bad cop part of the good cop/bad cop routine that Powell and Rumsfeld have been playing is often cited as evidence for the Bush administration's disregard for international norms, as is the rejection of the Kyoto protocols and withdrawal from the ABM treaty. All are false analogies.

Kyoto was an unenforceable treaty based on suspect science, and not even Clinton thought it had a prayer of ratification. The ABM treaty was a contract between the United States and a nation that no longer exists. Last time I checked, I didn't see anyone insisting that France stand by its treaty obligations with Austria-Hungary. Rumsfeld's routine is nothing but hard-ball diplomacy, the administration's way of spooking other countries into dealing with Colin Powell by pretending that Rumsfeld is the next option.

In reality, as we have seen time and time again, the next option after Colin Powell is Colin Powell with a differently nuanced position. Rumsfeld's way of the warrior is not going to be unleashed until Bush is convinced that going to the UN will bear no fruit at all, and he won't be permanently unleashed. Powell is going to step out of the room to get coffee, Rumsfeld is going to whale on the helpless perp for about three minutes, and then Powell is going to be re-introduced. The only question is whether the deal he carries in at that point is the same one he went out with.

This will happen because the reasons the United States had for becoming the main guarantor of the international process are the same as they were back in 1945. At heart, we're not isolationists, we're bobos, and we see the world as a great big gated community. We have to deal with Iraq because Saddam keeps starting fires in his backyard, hoping that they'll burn down the neighbor's house so he can build there. The problem is, once a fire starts you don't know what it's going to do, and there's a number of houses in his section of the neighborhood that, far from being up to code, are built entirely out of straw. At this level, there are no cops to call, no sheriff to come over to confiscate Saddam's gasoline and toss him in the hoosegow for thirty days. There's only the Homeowner's Association.

What we wanted the UN to do when it was founded was to go around making sure that everyone mowed his lawn, kept his house up, and respected the property rights of his neighbor. What we've discovered is that this is not enough, that we also need to make sure that the man of the house isn't a crazy drunk who beats on the wife and kids at the drop of a hat. Eventually those guys move on to letting the yard go, then start threatening the neighbors.

We're beginning to realize that this is our own fault, because we let anyone one who mouthed agreement with the neighborhood covenants to join. They didn't have to be in compliance, they just had to agree that in principle the covenant was a good thing. A country could have the international equivalent of cars up on blocks and a yard covered in kudzu, but if they said the right words they got a key to the pool and invitations to the yearly barbecue.

The United States wants the Homeowners Association make sure everyone plays by the same rules for the benefit of all. It's a capitalist approach. Surprising, I know. What this means is that eventually the U.S. will realize what every capitalist does at one point or another. There's no point in throwing good money after bad. Once that happens the pool is going to close, the barbecues will be no more, and nobody is going to come around with bucket and hose next time your neighbor's bonfire starts throwing sparks at your roof.

Oh, there'll be a another Homeowner's Association, but it will have much more exclusive membership requirements. That way the HOA can focus on getting things done, rather than on empty and usually pointless debate.


*The Supreme Court itself has to shoulder some blame for the current state of affairs. The Roe vs Wade decision is the basis for the current state of affairs, as both sides now seek a magic number of justices to either overturn or re-affirm the decision in that case, and it will likely continue until one party decides there is a political advantage in letting the state of the country (in their view) go from bad to worse in order to re-energize their portion of the electorate. My money's on the Democrats, as the left has already shown a predilection for something along those lines. One prominent meme of the 2000 Nader campaign was built around the idea that electing Bush in 2000 would lead to such to gains for the Greens in 2004. It's the "things have to get worse before they can get better, because once they worse people will support us, then we'll make things better" school of political thought.

The only other possibility I see is one where the Supreme Court Justices as a whole ask Congress to get on with it, essentially shaming the Senators into doing their job. It's also possible that the Supremes could deploy judicial power of the court to try and force Congress to complete the process, but the situation will have to be truly grave, on the order of a Constitutional crisis, before that is even considered.


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Do some good

As reported earlier in this space by BigWig, Rep. Nathan Deal of Georgia snuck a rider easing organic food standards onto an appropriations bill in February of 2003. The rider was placed to benefit Fieldale Farms, a campaign contributor of Deal's. You can read Deal's statement on organic food here. While Deal makes a strong defense, you have to wonder why the rider was hidden in an appropriations bill. Seems a little shady and underhanded. If you can't get a bill passed without hiding it somewhere else, it probably doesn't deserve to be law. My guess is that the National Organic Standards Board (a 12 member recommendations board. The 12 members all have experience and expertise in the area of foods and food additives, plus they probably haven't received $5000.00 from an interested party.) has a reason for allowing exceptions for plants, while not allowing the same exceptions for animals. I suspect it's their job to have reasons. I don't expect a Congressman who has accepted campaign money from an interested party to run an end-around to get around the standards governing body. Yet another reason for campaign finance reform.

Evidently a bill to repeal the rider is going to come before the House of Representatives in the form of H.R. 955. You can let your congressman know that you support strong standards for organic foods by signing the Action Network electronic petition in support of H.R. 955 and if you feel like contacting Rep. Deal, you can fill out this form.


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More Capitalism

Do you think t-shirts reading "Free Cannabis" would be big sellers?


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3/09/2003




What he said

My sentiments exactly. Some people think that Bush is a strong leader. I think Bush is a strong leader in the same way that the lead bull in a stampede is a strong leader. He may run straight and the herd may follow, but that doesn't mean the course he chooses is any good.


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