Friday, July 30, 2004

The Return of The Diner

No, that title is not a reference to a long forgotten detective flick from the 30's. It refers to one of the most interesting and unique radio shows I ever had the pleasure to hear. And (more or less) it's returning to the air via the internet in 2005.

The host of that show, a certain James Lileks, scooped himself via The Bleat this morning.

Salient part:

Then I digitize the old Diner shows and put them up on the site. Then I do a weekly “radio” show from the storage room, the only place in the house where I can shut the door and not be bothered. A man, a laptop, a mike. It won’t be live, but it won’t be edited. 2005: the Diner returns, for what it’s worth.

Once upon a time - it must have been about 5 years ago by now - the Twin Cities air waves offered superb and truly unique late night talk radio in the form of The Mischke Broadcast, and The Diner.

Mischke was (and remains) totally unpredictable, zany, offbeat, but also very smart and surprisingly subtle. He once did an entire two hour radio show without saying a word, and still made it compelling and hillarious.

James at the Diner was more laid back, but still very offbeat. His dry sense of humor was punctuated by references to the same sort of things that currently fill the pages of The Bleat.

Both shows bucked the trend of talk radio nationally, and at KSTP in particular by rarely talking about politics. And since both shows followed the excellent hyper-political Jason Lewis show, it was an interesting choice. But one that always seemed to work for me.

The Diner also held Saturday morning slot for a short time. I believe that was after it lost its late night weekday slot. In any case, those shows were also superb.

Anyway, Lileks will be putting the old diner broadcasts up on his website later this year. I'd advise anyone who truly loves good radio to give it a listen. Incidentally, you ought to check out Mischke too.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Your Host

Okay, okay. I admit it. I did that cartoony self-picture generating thing Mitch linked to a couple of days ago. And in lieu of a normal picture of myself which I like enough to post on the blog, here I am. Posted by Hello

First Ripe Tomatoes of the Season

The first ripe tomatoes of the season, picked last night. They're a variety called "Mr. Stripey," but also called "Tigerella" because there is another variety also called Mr. Stripey which is a totally different tomato.

Anyway, these were nice. Not much bigger than a cherry tomato in size, but they pack a nice tart punch which I like.

It has been my latest ripening year ever, here in the Minnesota 'Burbland. An unusually cool and wet summer has kept everything a bit behind. But all the plants are really loading up, so when the season really kicks in, it should be awesome.  Posted by Hello

A Liberal Asks: What If Bush Is Right?

This one from Esquire surprised me:

The Case for George W. Bush

Some key points in the article...

George W. Bush is an asshole, isn't he?... He has always struck me as a small man, or at least as a man too small for the task at hand, and therefore a man doomed to address the discrepancy between his soul and his situation with displays of political muscle that succeed only in drawing attention to his diminution. He not only has led us into war, he seems to get off on war, and it's the greedy pleasure he so clearly gets from flexing his biceps or from squaring his shoulders and setting his jaw or from landing a plane on an aircraft carrier—the greedy pleasure the war president finds in playacting his own attitudes of belligerence—that permitted me the greedy pleasure of hating him.

Just so you know I wasn't kidding about the liberal part. This guy is clearly no fan of Dubya. He hates him with near moonbat fervor. Which is what makes the rest of the article so interesting.

He starts wandering off the lefty reservation right about here:

As easy as it is to say that we can't abide the president because of the gulf between what he espouses and what he actually does , what haunts me is the possibility that we can't abide him because of us—because of the gulf between his will and our willingness. What haunts me is the possibility that we have become so accustomed to ambiguity and inaction in the face of evil that we find his call for decisive action an insult to our sense of nuance and proportion.

Do not adjust your monitor. You read that right. And what's more, it's not a set up for some later zinger. The guy dives right into this theme in earnest.

Check out the paragraph immediately following the above:

The people who dislike George W. Bush have convinced themselves that opposition to his presidency is the most compelling moral issue of the day. Well, it's not. The most compelling moral issue of the day is exactly what he says it is, when he's not saying it's gay marriage. The reason he will be difficult to unseat in November—no matter what his approval ratings are in the summer—is that his opponents operate out of the moral certainty that he is the bad guy and needs to be replaced, while he operates out of the moral certainty that terrorists are the bad guys and need to be defeated. The first will always sound merely convenient when compared with the second. Worse, the gulf between the two kinds of certainty lends credence to the conservative notion that liberals have settled for the conviction that Bush is distasteful as a substitute for conviction—because it's easier than conviction.

As Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds would say, read the whole thing.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Democratic Convention Reporting

After sifting through a few regular sources, I came across this post from Brian Baldwin (no relation to Alec, Steven, Billy, or Sneezy I presume) on Free Republic:

"My God, this convention is horrible. And so boring. Let’s have a science lecture."

See why I don't need to watch the Democratic Convention? If you know where to look, you can get the Cliff Notes version the next day. After reading Brian's piece I get a sense of the mind-numbing feeling watching it would have provoked, but it left my evening free.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Vote by photo?

I just don't understand this new presidential race photo controversy. John Kerry's camp claims they're thrilled with the recent picture taken of him in the NASA clean suit, and they further claim that the Republicans are the ones who ought to be embarrassed, because of President Bush's "costumed" landing on the aircraft carrier at the close of major combat operations in Iraq.

Personally, I think they're fooling themselves, and they ought to be at least a wee bit embarrassed about Kerry's ridiculous image, but why argue about it? Let's just place each picture on the ballot and let the cards fall where they may.

Vote for candidate A:

or candidate B:

Coulter versus Goldberg - a Battle Royale of Sorts

Apparently USA Today dropped Ann Coulter from writing a daily column for the Democratic Convention. They spiked her first column, fired Ann (they claim it was a "mutual decision"), and hired National Review's Jonah Goldberg as a replacement.

This struck me immediately as an interesting story for positively obscure reasons. Allow me to ellucidate.

Back in the early days of politics on the Internet - back in those days of yore before the first blog dredged itself from the primordial muck and published the first snarky comment accompanied by a link - my two daily visits for political news were National Review Online, and Free Republic.

I came to the scene around 1999. And at that time I was squarely in the aftermath of a little drama between a certain Lucianne Goldberg (Jonah's mom, and known as "Trixie" to Freepers), and Free Republic, which had lead Lucianne to go off and start her own political news forum. I happened to like Jonah's writing, and didn't have a clue about all the bad blood between Lucianne and Free Republic, so I blundered into some truly confusing arguments a few times before sorting things out. In short, any time a Jonah Goldberg article was posted, there was a better than fifty percent chance the thread would devolve into a heated flame-war between those who liked Jonah Goldberg and those who hated his mom. We newbies tended to be on the pro-Jonah side.

Also around that time I encountered the cult-of-personality Freepers had built around Ann Coulter. Everytime someone posted an Ann Coulter article, it was obligatory for the thread to be flooded with pictures of her - preferably very leggy pictures. She was everything a hot-headed Freeper could dream about: a beautiful, blonde, smart, conservative woman who could turn liberals to quivering jelly with a quick sacrastic phrase. One learned quickly not to take lightly the devotion to Miss Coulter. Seriously.

Which is why I wasn't entirely surprised to read that Jonah Golberg is receiving hate mail from Ann Coulter fans for agreeing to write her replacement column in USA Today.

Jonah's response is fine as it goes. And I have few doubts that some of those e-mailers are regulars who started writing nasty things to him back around 1999, when I discovered the twin cults of anti-Lucianne/pro-Coulter fervor at Free Republic. (Incidentally, Jonah's column was published today in USA Today, and daily columns will follow through the end of the convention.)

Free Republic is an interesting and vital part of the conservative movement online. I like the site greatly. But I think some of the icons of the place have become harmful to basic common sense.

Case in point: Back in the early days, when Jonah was starting up National Review Online, Ann Coulter was definitely the better writer of the two. But now?

These days, Ann has decended into a sort of Tallulah Bankhead meets Robert Novak amalgam. She can still write funny and biting commentary. But you pretty much have to already agree with her before you can understand it, let alone enjoy it. And it increasingly comes with a heavy dose of ego (did we really need Ann telling us about how pretty she is in her spiked USA Today story?).

Goldberg has become a pretty good writer, and he's improving with time. He's still funny, and can toss in the biting sarcasm as needed. But unlike Ann, his writing doesn't get stuck there.

So for my two-cents, I'll side with Jonah on this one (at least as long as Ann's cultists haven's come across this blog - those people are scary).

Monday, July 26, 2004

Political Convention Season

Ah, political convention season is upon us. Such a nostalgic time. One can almost smell old cigars and tear-gas wafting through the breeze.

It's also a fun time to watch the mainstream press fall flat on their faces prtetending not to be biased. As an example, I offer up the following bold predictions:

1. The Democrats will receive more prime-time coverage;

2. The Democrat speakers will receive less critical treatment by the ABCNBCCBSCNNMSNBC commentators than the Republicans during their later convention;

3. There will be little voice given to those critical of the Democratic Party during their convention, compared to the voice given to critics during the Republican convention.

I know. Shocking and bold. Who would think that this could possibly happen in our modern media age. I mean, it's not like this happens every year... or wait. Yes it does.

Anyway, the festivities kick off tonight with the Democrats in Boston, as Hillary and Bill both get some prime-time speech coverage. It will be utterly unnewsworthy. But I expect all the major networks to pre-empt normal coverage for it all the same. They need to. That way they can use it to justify not covering Republican speeches in primetime, because they "learned their lesson" at the Democratic Convention. Again, this is the same old playbook here. But I think we're all supposed to act surprised when it happens.

If you're not inclined to watch the convention (and unless someone is paying you or you're a hardcore moonbat, any such inclination is a sign of lunacy), and you absolutely must watch television, it's Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.

Hmm... Shark Week coincides with the Democratic Convention? Coincidence?

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Minneapolis Smoking Ban

This I don't get. Really and truly I don't.

It's one of those issues that makes sense to conservatives in general because we generally like to think of liberals, such as those populating the Minneapolis City Council, as two-bit Stalinists who would dictate every facet of our lives to suit their humanity-effacing ideology if they could. But it makes almost no sense at all when you get down to the details, because pretty much every hardcore liberal I know is a smoker. They all live in Minneapolis, they all go to bars, and they are all going to be extremely unsettled by this ban.

Being a non-cigarette smoker, I suppose I should enjoy this. I've never been too fond of second-hand smoke, though I've not been idiot enough to fall for the scientifically ... let's say challenged... studies which claim that second hand smoke will kill me. It's still a general nuisance, and now I will encounter less of it. But for some reason, I can't join the air Nazis by goose-stepping along in their celebratory parade. Too much of a freedom thing to me. A bunch of people used the power of government to stop other people from enjoying themselves in a legal way on private property. That's just never going to give me the warm fuzzies these morons seem to feel.

In a sane world, this would have been handled the same way my own smoke of preference (cigars) got itself banned from most places. Most people didn't like the smell, so most proprietors banned it on their property. I can't begin to fathom why sane people decided to resolve their annoyance with cigarrette smoke a different way. I get why those of totalitarian mind, and those easily lead to believe nonsense got behind it. But have these sort of folks really achieved the power to pull a 12-1 vote in Minneapolis, where so many hardcore liberal activists meet to plot the destruction of conservatism over smokes?

I guess they can.

Usual conservative gobbledegook about liberals hating freedom should be inserted here. But it seems a cop-out. It's not that simple. If there's one thing about freedom liberals still love it's the libertine, personal hedonism sort. At the moment they seem to be driving slightly harder toward banning cigarettes than they are toward legalizing pot, but there's no core ideology which will prevent that from flipping those priorities around in the span of a couple of years if the winds shift just right. It is conceivable that in the near future the Minneapolis City Council will treat cigarette smokers in private establishments more harshly than pot smokers. Seriously. That's not a difficult scenario to project.

And it's a state of affairs which cannot possibly survive as more than a historical blip. These aren't policies which can comfortably coexist.

Toss this into the general bucket marked "Ammunition for the Next Major Political Realignment." I don't know when it will happen, or what shape it will take in the end. But the air Nazis and the radical liberals I know are destined to become mortal enemies, They cannot remain political allies much longer.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Microsoft's Payout

Big story this week in the IT sector about Microsoft divesting itself of half its cash reserves - which amounts to about 30 billion dollars - to pay a $3 per share dividend to its stockholders.

This is really only terribly interesting if you know something about the way Microsoft thinks about money. Part of the reason it was sitting on 60 billion in cash was because it wants to be able to run for something like five years with zero profits. Why? So that if a competitor ever threatened them, they could drive them out of the market by dropping their prices as low as they cared to, up to and including giving them away until the competitor was driven out of business. Think Internet Explorer versus Netscape, only applied to every single market Microsoft competes in - operating systems, office suites, web browsers, e-mail servers, Web servers, programming languages - all at the same time.

So I came across this article in the NY Times:

Microsoft Is Dead. Long Live Microsoft.

It offers some interesting analysis, though it dissapointingly misses the strategic item I mentioned above. It assumes Microsoft gave up on trying to invest its 60 billion in something new. It's worth reading all the same.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Leftists and The Arts - They Still Have No Clue

Ran across this article on MSNBC today:

Why Artists Are Rallying Against Bush

The striking thing to me is how utterly clueless the perspective is. It meshes very well with my own recent emersion in the lefty arts culture of Minneapolis.

Incidentally, I think the article is written in genuine fashion. It doesn't seem to be attempting partisan spin. But let's examine a few insights into an honest left-leaning mind from the article:'s more important than ever that Americans pay attention to what creative people have to say. Not since the height of the Vietnam War have so many actors, writers, artists, and musicians mobilized politically during an election year...

I have encountered this exact same thing. Unlike the vast majority of Americans who look upon the Vietnam era with distaste, leftist artists have idealized it. To them it was a sort of cultural flowering where the arts community attained a central and important leadership role. Arts communities, being disproportionately vain and inclined to narcissism, view this as the proper natural order of things. To them, artists should not be mere entertainers, but should serve as a kind of demi-priesthood empowered by their close association with Truth.

Now in fairness, I think this is indeed the role of great art in society. But we shouldn't mistake the art for the artist. Most artists never create great art. Most struggle their entire careers in the attempt but fail.

There is an humorous saying I remember seeing on a poster on the door of a philosophy professor in college. It went something like this: "If society esteems philosophers because philosophy is a lofty pursuit, and dismisses plumbers because plumbing is a lowly pursuit, it will have neither good philosophy nor good plumbing. Neither its thoughts nor pipes will hold water."

In a nutshell, that's the problem with a view esteeming artists, and thinking we need to hear a lot from them regarding politics right now. Just because they are artists doesn't mean they know more than you or I about politics. They simply have learned some nifty ways of expressing themselves. But we shouldn't confuse their mastery of the medium with the significance of their message.

Set aside the partisan anti-Bush rhetoric, and it's clear that they're mainly worried about the erosion of civil liberties and threats to freedom of speech they believe are occurring because of media concentration and the war on terrorism -- especially under the guise of the Patriot Act.

Again, this squares perfectly with my own observations among my lefty theatre friends. This isn't hyped up or partisan spin. They truly and deeply feel this way.

Interesting though, it's not a deep and studied thing. It's a viceral reaction. Ask them which clause in the Patriot Act most disturbs them, and in the vast majority of cases, you'll meet a blank stare. They don't know what's in the Patriot Act. They just know that's it was intended to strengthen the powers of law enforcement agencies.

If you think about it, this makes a certain sense. Artists play in feelings and emotions far more often than the rest of us. And I can't think of anyone right or left who was thrilled by the measures we took post 9-11. The only difference was between those who thought they were a necessary evil, and those who thought they were unnecessary.

And to me, this goes to my observation that the arts community is almost entirely populated by people living in the mindset of September 10th. To those inclined to that world view, Bush's increase of law enforcement and national security does indeed seem menacing. The problem is that such a world view is a naive and dangerous fantasy. We are indeed engaged in a war, even if that war is being waged for the most part far away.

Edmund White, who's now head of Princeton University's creative writing program, was the only artist I contacted who expressed concern about the relative uniformity of political views in the American artistic community. "In France, there are many respected writers on the right," he noted when I tracked him down by e-mail. "In America or England, it would almost be impossible to be a writer on the right."

This is another weird little point that characterizes the arts community very well. The evidence of their own intolerance of different points of view could not be any clearer. And they don't see it at all. In fact, they tend to take this evidence as some sort of proof of how smart and elite they are.

It truly doesn't occur to them that the reason there is so little poltical diversity in their own profession is that they are active discriminators who oppress dissenting political opinion far more vigorously than almost any other group.

This also illustrates why conservative groups scare the bejeebers out of them. They assume their own bigotry and intolerance to be less than that of most other groups. Therefore they can only assume a conservative group in power must oppress and discriminate with wild abandon. Their fear of conservatives is partially formed by their own political bigotry and intolerance.

Why should anyone -- especially conservative Republicans -- care what these people have to say? Because their numbers include some of the absolute best and brightest of American culture, people whose novels and paintings your great-grandhildren may be studying decades from now.

This is simply a reiteration of the fallacy we lead off with. Since some great art is bound to come from current artists, we must revere them all, even in their least informed opinions. It's bad advice, and conservatives seem to be sensibly immune to it.

I'd normally end by saying "read the whole thing." But honestly, I can't recommend it in this case. It's a longish piece advocating nonsense, with a few insights into how leftists think about art, conservatives and politics.

The Pants Story

So I go around trying to ignore the news and enjoy summer, and suddenly we have this huge story breaking about the former head of the NSA stuffing classified documents down his pants. I suppose I can't pretend I've been ignoring it. And like every other blogger on the planet, I suppose I ought to offer some comments.

The interesting thing to me about this story has very little to do with the actual events and everything to do with how Democrats respond. On its face Sandy Berger's actions stink to high heaven even in the friendliest (i.e. "sloppy") explanation. Additionally, Berger's claim that this was all "inadvertant," simply cannot be squared with the facts. He did this multiple times, and seems to have chosen to remove every draft of a specific document out of the "thousands" he was to have been reviewing. This hardly sounds like a guy inclined to coming clean, again even to the friendliest ears.

So I'm going to use this as a personal litmus test to see how far the Democrats have ethically fallen. Surely the moonbat contingent has already decided that ethics can go out the window in pursuit of victory. But how about the rank and file?

I'm perfectly content for the national figures to adopt a "wait until we know all the facts" position. I don't expect them to be eager to admit the worst about this incident. I'm far more interested in the reactions of the "man on the street." Not that he's being helped by the press coverage of this incident.

As Republican commentators have been noting, there is simply no way on earth this story would be handled so delicately if the accused party was current NSA chief Condaleeza Rice, or even a former official from the Reagan or the elder Bush's administrations. But I already realize rank and file Dems can talk themselves into believing otherwise. That's not so much a test of honesty as a testament to the strength of their world view - which includes the notion that news organs like the New York Times and CNN are centrist and objective. Still, this story is breaking anyway, and the truth will come out no matter how reluctantly.

Republicans will rightly conclude that a crime has been committed which endangered national security, and that it was committed by a high ranking former Democratic official who was an advisor to the Kerry campaign. Those are, after all, the mere facts of the situation. Anything else that comes out as this thing goes along can only make this even worse.

So now, as the story unfolds, we wait and watch. Has the political left become so morally bankrupt that they'll uniformly defend Mr. Berger? Or does enough basic decency remain that they'll have to denounce this scandal at some point, even if it may harm their quest for a Democratic return to the White House?

Monday, July 19, 2004

Lazy Hazy Days of Summer

Summer finally arrived this weekend. The long, hot, humid kind. We only get a few weeks of this in Minnesota in a typical summer, but having been born and raised a wee bit south of this state, to me this weather marks real summer, and the rest of the days the calendar demarks as "summer" are either prologue or denoument.

The hours from just after dawn until sometime after dinner are uncomfortably warm for me. There's a reason I moved north to settle down as an adult, rather than to the sun belt. But the evenings are especially terrific, if a tad buggy. I can sit outdoors as the sun sets, have a cigar and enjoy myself utterly. People in Florida or Arizona likely have no appreciation for how glorious that can feel when contrasted to the long-bitter winter which is always in the back of your mind as you enjoy the unusual pleasure of going outdoors without a coat.

Interestingly, I've never really been a "summer" person. My favorite season is fall, followed by spring (the latter part of spring to be specific). But what would those seasons be with no summer in between? I need summer. It's good for me. Like bran, or calcium, or reading serious news.

About that news. I just can't get motivated by much of it lately. Oh, I'm reading most of the same things I usually do, just not as often lately. My tolerance for it seems to be ebbing pretty low. After a short stint of browsing, I'm done. Election year burnout? I don't think that's it.

I suppose on a deep level, I'd rather not think about many of the weighty issues of the day at all right now. I don't want to argue about ideology nearly as much as compare favorite beers, or talk about which wine would go best with dinner. I want to sit out on the deck and try to blow smoke rings in those moments when the breeze takes a pause. I want to set off leftover fireworks and watch my kids look on in awe and cheer like crazy, even though each one is pretty much the same. I want to watch my tomato plants grow to monstrous size, and tease me by loading up with green fruit that never seems to ripen - and then overwhelm me with a happy flood.

I think what I'm getting at is that this is summer. And my mind simply won't let me treat it like any other season. Summer is a time for summer things. And if politics insists upon intruding, it ought to have the decency to bring along some fireworks and bratwurst.

There will be time for all the rest soon enough. It promises to be a nasty election year in which basic civility goes out the window, with every guilty party blaming the other guys for doing it first. We'll all feel insulted and cheated in some way by the end.

So I invite those so inclined to join me in sitting back, enjoying summer, and giving the rest a bit of a vacation for now. Pay more attention to the breeze off the lake than the foul-wind emanating from the editorial pages of the New York Times. Watch your kids play in the pool with more attention than you watch Peter Jennings somberly read the news. And don't get provoked into spending too much time on things which can be just as easily undertaken this fall.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Kerry as Commander in Chief

Here's an interesting little piece from Gregory Djerejian (I found it, like a lot of good stuff, via Instapundit) : THE BELGRAVIA DISPATCH: Kerry: An Effective Steward of the War on Terror?

This fits nicely with my observations from last night about the Kerry's liberal core. The letter from Kevin Drum which prompts Djerejian's reply is completely in line with the mindset of Darkest Liberalism I've observed.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Back in Darkest Liberalism

The play is actually going pretty well (see this previous post to learn what the heck I'm talking about). Funny thing. I like the play and totally agree with the message. But the liberals I'm working with seem to think it's a perfect analogy to our current political situation, in the sense that it's anti-Bush. This has caused more than a few bite-my-tongue-til-it-bleeds moments, but I've profited by keeping my cover.

Not to give away the plot (it's the sort of play that's still worth seeing even if you know the plot anyway), but it isn't anti-Bush, or anti-Republican at all. It's a play about the encroachment of modern society and our times upon the freedom of the individual (or something like that - see it and make up your own opinion).

The libs I'm working with don't miss this point. They just see Republicans in general and President Bush in particular as the perfect example of that. So much so that they keep trying to force in lines from speeches, or other obvious references to the current administration - something they've admirably pulled away from each time, recognizing that it doesn't quite work, and muddies the script rather than enhancing it. They don't seem to be able to put a finger on exactly why, but the recognition is something, eh?

I'm finding it fascinating watching them struggle with the urge to decend into something shallow and partisan, yet resisting for reasons none of them seem able to put into words. It's certainly not because they are questioning their political opinions.

Case in point, tonight a funny aside consisted of some funny banter about a proposed rewriting of a line in the script to be a reference to voting in Florida. The idea that the voting in Florida was corrupted by the evil Bush is something of an article of faith in this crowd, analagous to belief that Christ died and rose for Christians, though not quite so hopeful. Thankfully they all recognized that this had no place in the script. But the moment was telling. Just a few words. A knowing chuckle all around. And moving on.

The night was kind of like that. All sorts of little inside references to things about the Bush administration. Not a lot of effort placed there. No need. Everyone in this crowd already knows what to think about this stuff. It's like that old joke where the prison inmates yell out joke numbers to each other and they all laugh - the jokes associated with the numbers being already well known by all.

I'm struck by what seems to be a difference between liberals and conservatives on some of these issues. Last time, I mentioned how these liberals are all 9/10 people. And that's still true. And I also mentioned how any alternative political view had a staggeringly high barrier for entry, since so much of their lives and relations were based on a shared liberal world view. And that's still true.

What I'm starting to see is how these pieces fit together. They NEED to keep living in September 10th, because the alternative challenges too much that they hold valuable about their identies - as people, as friends, as citizens. The liberal worldview has no satisfactory answer to an event like September 11th. They can point fingers with the best of them when its time to fix blame. But they reject racial profiling, immigration restrictions, police investigation power, religious stereotyping, and security restrictions of almost any kind. The liberal worldview leaves America a limping gazelle on a world savannah where packs of Islamist predators hungrily roam. And they sort of know it. So they'd really rather not think about it, much less talk about it.

In the liberal view there is no War on Terror. There is not because they cannot wage one without surrendering too much of their world view. It's a culture clash as much as a political one.

Anyone backing John Kerry, who also believes the War on Terror is a top priority needs to seriously weigh this. John Kerry cannot fight the war without losing the core of his party. And there is nothing in his record to suggest he's the sort of man who is willing to do that.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Ditka Dreams

OK. I'm going to try to be gentle. But fair warning. If you were fat & happy about the Illinois Republican Party drafting Ditka, the following may be a little hard to swallow. You're free to move on.

Still here? Well then...

Mike Ditka is my current nominee for savior of the Republic. Not because he's running for Senate, but because he's not.

I bit my tongue on the whole Arnold "Governator" thing in California, largely because it was far away and their governor was so awful I could easily see a random name in the phone book as a better choice. But there is a point where pursuit of "name recognition" must be tossed aside so those of us concerned about serious government can say, "Wha?!!!"

Mike Ditka is known primarily for winning Super Bowl XX, and yelling at football players. This is virtually his entire resume in the minds of the average Illinois voter. How this translates to "statesman and Senator" is something I would like someone to seriously explain to me.

I KNOW why he's popular. I simply can't reconcile this popularity with anything that suggests the makings of a good legislator. And I haven't seen any analysis even attempt to bridge this gap.

Have we really come to this as a nation? Apparently we have.

I have noticed a pattern developing. When celebrities run for office, it is rarely for state representative, or state senator, or even a state representative. Celebrities get to skip all that, and qualify immediately for Senator or Governor. There is no serious reason this should be so, other than that the electorate doesn't care about government as much as they care about celebrity.

Ok, you say, so that's the state of affairs. Let's use it to our advantage and win! But it's a deeper problem than that.

Republics stand on the basis of a fundamental principal - that the electorate is responsible enough in matters of government to take public office seriously, and they reflect that in their votes for representation.

The idea that Mike Ditka - a man with a proven hot temper, but no record as a public servant - ought to be considered for one of the highest offices in the land, challenges that foundation. Why not let the Superbowl MVP serve as president for a year? Why not elect Congress the same way we vote in a Major League Baseball Allstar Team?

This is a symptom of a Republic's decline. Bread and circuses in place of government. Thanks Mike Ditka for refusing to play. But the problem lives.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Pat Tillman - Moonbat Chow

Ran across this little tidbit in the Chicago Sun-Times today:

ESPYs' tribute to Tillman will be time to tune out

Some columnist named Carol Slezak seems to be disgusted that ESPN is having a special tribute to Pat Tillman - the football player for the Arizona Cardinals, who walked away from a multi-million dollar contract to join the U. S. Army Rangers in the wake of 9/11, and was later killed in action in Afghanistan.

Apparently actor Tom Cruise will be presenting the tribute.

Carol's complaint?

Words I expect Cruise to use during the Tillman tribute: hero, courage, warrior.

Sentiments I don't expect Cruise to express during the Tillman tribute: unjust war, his poor widow, what was he thinking?

Remind me not to watch.

Carol is offering a pretty good example of the "Moonbat Left" mindset. Moonbats, incidentally, are not ordinary run-of-the-mill lefties. These are the crazed fringe, who have only recently been allowed such prominence in the mainstream.

What makes this little anti-Tillman snit so characteristic of the Moonbats to me is not the language, or even the target, but the entire worldview.

Short reminder: On September 11, 2001, the U. S. was attacked by a terrorist group called Al Qaeda. They killed over 3,000 Americans on U. S. soil. They claimed credit for those attacks, and promised more of the same. Al Qaeda was based in the nation of Afghanistan, where they were offered safe haven by the Taliban regime - an oppresive Islamic sect who were noted for extreme religious intolerance and oppression of women.

Pat Tillman was a wealthy athelete. Part of a sports culture that is typically characterized as spoiled and selfish. He was a star. He was rich. No one expected him to walk away from that to serve his country in a war. He did it anyway. Unlike Elvis Presley, he did not ask for star treatment in the Army. He asked for a chance to serve in the elite Army Rangers. He made it, and served like any other Ranger. He died in an ambush while his unit was searching the Afghan border near Pakistan for Al Qaeda operatives.

The above two paragraphs are not really in dispute between the right and left. They are simply the facts of the situation.

The vast majority of Americans, left and right, would consider Pat Tillman a hero. He made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of his nation. Whether Saddam had WMD's and whether you supported the Iraq war is irrelevant. Pat Tillman died in Afghanistan chasing Al Qaeda, not Baghdad chasing Ba'athists.

Enter the Moonbat. For this very words "hero," "sacrifice," "honor," cannot be uttered without a sneer. Much like Carol Slezak's quote above. She mentions Tillman's positives as "hero, courage, warrior." Sincerely? Hardly. It's a setup for her stronger feelings. And those feelings are ... frankly nuts.

Afghanistan was an unjust war to her, despite the fact that they were sheltering the terrorist group that had declared war on us, successfully attacked us, and promised to do so again. Remember, this was the war that 90% of Americans backed, and all our allies supported. It was unjust to Carol because.... she doesn't say. But she's a Moonbat, so I would imagine it has something to do with the evil Bush/Cheney/Halliburton conspiracy.

Most of America saw Pat Tillman walking away from fame (star athlete in America's most popular professional sport), and fortune (millions of dollars per year, and a multi-year contract) as a sacrifice. To a Moonbat it was selfish, because of, "his poor widow." But Moonbat concern for war widows is always generalized and abstract. You won't find any attempt by Carol to get a quote from Mrs. Tillman regarding her opinion on the matter. I somehow doubt she's all that receptive the the notion that Mr. Tillman died a shiftless, irresponsible husband rather than a hero.

And then there is the whole, "what was he thinking?" line. To a Moonbat, this is the ultimate summary. It reflect's the fact that the Moonbat literally cannot fathom at all why someone would have done what Pat Tillman did. And since they assume no one else can either, they think it's a real zinger.

They don't recognize that the vast majority of Americans find this view of hers morally repugnant. When Carol's e-mail overflows with condemnations of her contemptible sentiment, she'll feel vindicated. Every dissenting opinion will only confirm to her that those "right wingers" are the REAL fantatics and hate-mongers. She might even pick and choose some of the most flame-infused examples in a future column to show what monsters oppose her views. She is utterly blind to the fact of her own bigotry, insensitvity, and general daffiness.

And that is the Moonbat view in a nutshell. Noble speakers of the truths they believe others are too frightened to mention. Truths like contempt for our troops, ridicule of patriotism, and siding with our enemies in times of war. Only folks like that see Pat Tillman as fair game for their public vitriol.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Blogging Week One

So. Here I am. A week of blogging under my belt. Technically a week and a day (or a week and two days if setting up the blog counts as blogging). Apparently I was too morose last night to recognize the momentous anniversary.

Via Mitch at Shot in the Dark, I even got my first link today. Which, to the best of my knowledge, means I actually had people reading some of this stuff. Two were kind enough to leave comments (Hiya Noneya and Maddad). No idea how many others perused here. But thanks all the same if you're out there.

My impressions? Kind of fun. Not sure I'm coherent enough yet to deserve regular visitors. But I hope I find a few like minded or otherwise interested folks as I get the hang of this.

Oddly enough when I started this, I assumed most of my blogging would be about politics. It's not turning out that way, and I feel no great need to force it. There are a lot of great political blogs out there, and I generally find that once I've run through my usual reading list, I don't feel the need to add much to it. Well done folks. Thanks for doing the heavy lifting. Now let me pop a cork and write about something a bit lighter.

One topic I'm surprised I haven't hit yet is parenting. True confession here - I'm afraid I'll come off like a barely competent dork-dad compared to super-dad James Lileks. But his writing about the Gnat has always been one of my favorite parts of the Bleat, especially since my oldest child is only a few months older. So I'll likely brave the dorkdom and write a bit about that soon.

Anyway, for anyone out there, thanks for visiting. The place needs a bit of work, but hopefully it's heading in an inviting direction. More adventure to come.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Life in the Tech Sector circa 2004

I work in the IT (Information Technology) industry. I've been ridiculously lucky in this career. I didn't major in anything of the sort. My first exposure to the Internet was a roommate who used it to download pirated computer games (yes I played them - naughty me).

Generally computers were neat to me for a long time because they were toys. I learned to do things with them for sheer entertainment value. And I don't mean I invented new programming languages because that was fun. I mean I learned to tweak memory, and understand operating systems because I needed to in order to play the hot new computer game on the market.

In my first adult, post-college, non-food industry related job, that turned out to be a rather valuable skill. By the end of my two year tenure, about all I did was computer related. It was a small company of only 15 employees, so that meant I got to sample a bit of everything IT-related for a small company. Turned out I was actually good at it.

So... a friend of mine recommended me to his consulting company. I interviewed. They hired me for what I later discovered to be well below market wages. But I didn't feel qualified and it was well above what I was making anyway. So I jumped.

Then I got to experience to experience what it's like to ride a market bubble from boom to bust to whatever the heck this is now.

See, the tech sector was hyper-inflated and we all knew it by the late 90's. But, at that time, we sort of put that out of our minds and got silly. We demanded signing bonuses, and acted like rock stars. And we very much knew we were nothing of the sort. But heck, everyone in the important publications was writing about how all the old rules had changed, and this was a new world.

And then... Kee-rash!

If you weren't in it, you have no idea what that was like. It wasn't about watching the stock markets and jumping out a window. It was successfully arguing for a multi-thousand dollar bonus after your last review and being laid off the next quarter... and finding no one else wanted you afterward, though they were beating down your door just a couple of months ago.

I was mercifully spared the indignity of a lay off. But in a perverse way, I was scarred by it all the same. For stupid reasons, I ended up last man standing-in-charge of an IT shop of about 40 developers in the midst of this. And my company had decided to save money by jumping into the offshoring trend with both feet. So what did that mean to me? It meant I was charged with deciding who was laid off among those under my "authority." I wasn't the only vote, but I definitely was the biggest affecting those 40.

The first round was easy. The next harder. And then the rounds kept coming, and there was not a soul you could honestly feel good about choosing. And all the while they were hiring their replacements in India. Same company. This was eventually well-known by those being laid off.

What's more, a dirty secret about offshoring hit me in the face. The resulting product was an accounting-oriented shell game. Getting a quality product out of offshore developers required a serious investment in new processes and communication. My company was not doing that. Their first, second, and third priorities were quarterly labor costs. And they went down when your workforce was paid in Rupees in Chennai, India.

I eventually abandoned ship, and landed at a company I deemed very good and very different.

The past month I've been assisting a senior architect at the new company. The assignment? Put together a strategy for successful offshoring of work. Our customers are demanding it.

At this point I'm thinking I need to get the heck out of this industry. It feels dirty. But with over ten years of work behind me here, where can I go? I'm sure that's a common question in the American tech sector these days. Ick.

We're still the best in the world at this stuff. But the world has changed. And so have the market fads. I fear for our country if we lose the edge in this stuff, but without a major change in the way things are going we will. And soon.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

More Wine Rambling

Another weekend. Another new wine.

This one is a Huntington 2001 Sauvignon Blanc, dubbed "Earthquake," according to the bottle, for an earthquake that hit Napa Valley in September of 2000. Imagine! An earthquake in California! No wonder it got the locals so worked up.

Anyway a couple of disclaimers. This is a little old for Sauvignon Blanc, a varietal that does not improve with aging. So whatever this is like now, it was probably a bit better in its day. Also, I confess I picked this one up off the "clearance" bin. Which is actually a pretty decent place to go to try stuff you wouldn't normally buy. Seems it retailed for a ten-spot originally. I got it for eight. As in my previous rambling on the topic - inexpensive wine is not necessarily bad (though the last entry may not be the best evidence of that claim).

So on to the show....

The wine has a normal old cork. Wasn't spoiled, so fine. Into the glass it goes.

Very pale color. Most California Sauvignon Blancs do a little oak aging, which can impart a little darker color to the wine. This one seems to have resisted the urge, and bravo to them. Unless you're very good, very lucky, or both, oak and Sauvignon Blanc go together like delicate caviar and a large dollop of ketchup. New Zealand Sauvignion Blanc lead new world wineries to rediscover the pleasure of non-oaked SB, and I'm happy to see some Napa growers catching the wave.

The nose of this one is mild but pleasant. A little grassy (which is good in an SB), some faint tropical fruit.

On the palate it's bright. Acidic. Mild but pleasant flavor. A really good summer-on-the-deck kind of wine. Almost more like a Pinot Grigio than an SB. I'd like to steam some mussels in this and some tarragon, and serve a glass of this to accompany.

The bottle claims:

"This distinctive and sophisticated wine is crafted in a Sancerre style; lean, bright and crisp, with excellent varietal definition and balance."

A bit of a stretch with that "distinctive and sophisticated" stuff. But the rest is right on. A nice little bargain for summer on the deck.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Field Report: From Darkest Liberalism

So my friend Anthony, whom I've known since 3rd grade, wrote a play. A really good play in my opinion. Not his first. But he decided to produce this one himself. And was having a heck of a time finding available actors. See there's this thing called the Minnesota Fringe Festival, of which this play is a part. It's a tremendous gathering of theater junkies from the Upper Midwest and beyond. It attracts good, bad, and all in between to put on a show. Negative side effect: it tends to suck up all the local talent lickety-split, leaving author-producers like my friend high and dry.

I know this because I got a call out of the blue a couple of weeks ago at work. As diplomatically as possible, Anthony let me know they were having a wee problem finding anyone to fill 2 of the 5 roles in his script. And would I care to have one?

Funny. Last time I acted was my sophomore year of college. I was a theater major at the time. My final acting gig was in a little play Anthony directed for class credit. Sixteen years ago.

I left theater shortly after, not because I didn't like it. And not because I decided I needed a more practical major (I ended up majoring in Anthropology for gosh sake). I left because the people in the theater department were terrible people to be around. Close minded, cliquish, and rather dim. I put all of theatre aside. Graduated. Got married. Tried a bit of grad school. Moved. Got a job which unintentionally became a career. Became a dad thrice over. And now... here I am. 35 years old, a conservative Republican from the suburbs. And a voice from my past (well not that far past - we've gotten together on occasion for dinner or drinks) beckons me back to that world I left behind long ago.

Of course I accepted.

And suddenly I found myself in the midst of a strange breed of creature I normally only hear about from a safe distance: Liberals. And I don't mean the namby-pamby, Katie-Couric-loving, PTA member type. These are the hard-core Bush-is-a Nazi, Michael-Moore-is-a-prophet, gay-marriage-is-the-new-civil-rights-movement sort.

We rehearse in the WAY liberal Uptown area of Minneapolis. It has been a blast.

Now the fire-eaters out there think my enjoyment must come from arguing with them and showing them up. But they'd be wrong. It's quite the opposite. Maybe it's the lingering anthropologist in me (see above), but I just shut my mouth and observe the liberal in his natural habitat. They seem to have accepted me as one of their own and so I get to see really interesting stuff.

First, the obvious. They all hate Bush. And Aschcroft. And the Patriot Act. They don't have any deep reasons why. I doubt any of them have ever encounterd a serious objection to this opinion.

And they esteem Michael Moore. But in their world view he seems redundant. Like "Duh, we KNOW already." But they seem to think he's doing good in getting the word out to the ignorant masses, and that's probably important, or something.

Two big revelations:

1. These people are still living in September 10th. If not in fact, in spirit, they believe events like September 11th only happen when evil men like Bush hold office. They really, truly, and deeply have no notion that this is threatening to us as a nation. To them it's just an extension of partisan politics. The idea that a foreign power would hold both the noble liberals and evil conservatives of our country in equal contempt is not remotely considered.

2. These are not bad people. They're not die-hard socialists. They're not blind to multi-cultural foolishness. They simply have very little exposure to any credible worldview other than the liberal one. And any counter vision would challenge SO much of their self-image and their social relationships, that the bar for alternative vision is staggeringly high.

More reports as I get more deeply entrenched.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Twin Cities Talk Radio

Mitch, at Shot In The Dark, has a good review of the Twin Cities talk radio scene at the moment: State of Twin Cities Radio, 2004

Though Mitch's review is excellent, and I largely agree, I thought I'd toss in a few notes of my own on the topic.

Let's start with the negative. That's always more fun anyway:

1. Why is Michael Savage so freakin' popular? The man screams and rants nonsensically on a regular basis. He's like an unflattering caricature of a conservative talk-show host. If so many conservatives didn't insist they love his show, I'd think it was a clever PR ploy funded by anti-conservatives to discredit the genre. I truly would.

2. Why is Joe Soucheray so freakin' popular? No, he's not as bad as Savage. He's really not bad at all. Just rather dull on a rather regular basis. Like Mitch, I think the Rookie frequently carries the show. The show does have some good moments. But they're rarely all THAT good. And too often they're few and far between. Unlike Savage, I don't wish Joe off the air. I just can't figure out the HUGE draw that he undeniably has in this market.

Now onto the positive. A note about Hugh Hewitt:

Is Hugh the very best radio host? No. But I'm increasingly believing that he has the best radio show. He has an excellent guest list, including amazing talents like James Lileks and Mark Steyn who ought to be sought out by every radio producer in the market, but generally aren't. He also dips into the blogosphere to find generally untapped but excellent political commentators. Like Mitch notes, he "gets" the new media, in a way almost none of his colleagues do. He also seems to be one of the only ones who understands the restrictions of the format. It seems more and more like the commercials take up more time than the shows. Hugh gets that, and loads up every segment with a pace and content that other hosts ought to take notes on.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Orson Scott Card, the Free Market, and Me

Of the big-time, professional journalist-types currently on the scene (you know - the ones who get paid for it), the two I consider the very best are James Lileks and Mark Steyn.

Interestingly, a dark horse currently pulling into the "show" position is Orson Scott Card, with his "World Watch" column in the Ornery American. The latest caught my attention this morning: World Watch - June 27, 2004 - Optimism, Pessimism, War, and Oil - The Ornery American

The part that was most thought provoking was the section on oil. He begins:

Speaking of foolish optimism ...

There is only a finite amount of oil in the world.

Everybody knows this.

Someday, we'll run out.

It will be gone.

Well... maybe. See there is this Abiotic Theory of Oil Formation which would tend to refute this. Nontheless, even as little as I know about the merits of that debate, it seems safe to say this is a theory pretty far off the mainstream, so Card's basic thesis stands. We need to plan as if oil is finite.

Now we come to some of the more thought provoking items.

"Optimists tell us that the free market will eventually deal with the problem. Their theory is that as oil gets harder to extract cheaply, the price will go up; then other forms of energy will become economically attractive and we'll switch over to them.

Therefore, they say, government should stay out of the business of trying to limit the use of oil or encourage alternate energy sources.

Here's why their optimism is nothing short of suicidal.

First, there's no guarantee that without intense government-funded research and financial incentives now, the new energy sources will be available in quantities large enough to replace oil when it does run out.

In other words, if we wait until it's an emergency, our economy could easily crash and burn for lack of energy sources sufficient to drive it. "

Two problems I have with the above. The first is the ought-to-be-more-famous wager between the late economist Juilan Simon, and the always-wrong-but-never-discredited doomsayer Paul Erlich. There is no doubt that every commodity that was part of this wager is finite. And Julian Simon had no special knowledge of the unknown. He just knew the way the market worked and the historical trends. His optimism turned out to be realism.

The second problem is with the line, "there's no guarantee that without intense government-funded research and financial incentives now, the new energy sources will be available in quantities large enough to replace oil when it does run out." There's also no guarentee that we'll have this with government intervention. And we can be certain we'll waste a lot of money by removing market discipline from this research.

Moving on to another interesting point...

..." ... market forces don't do anything for our national defense, our national security. We had a clear warning back in the 1970s with the first oil embargo. What if terrorism in the Middle East specifically targets all oil exports, from many countries?

And even if they keep the oil flowing, why are we pumping money into the pockets of militant extremists who want to destroy us? Why are we subsidizing our enemies, when instead we could be subsidizing the research that might set us free from our addiction to oil?"

Here, Card is moving into an area where I deeply fault free trade absolutists. Control of resources is one of the major causes of war in history. The flower children who scream "No blood for oil!" are living in fantasy. Blood will continue to be shed for oil. And iron. And tungsten. And Boxite. And anything else that becomes critical to the economy of a specific nation, but which they are not self-sufficient in.

Some people seem to think the spread of Democracy has solved this problem. I disagree. If anything, it has made war for these reasons more likely for a very simple reason: politics.

The dominant party in democratic governments is held responsible for the performance of the economy, whether they can truly effect it or not. While in a macro-economic sense, an oil embargo causing a price spike is easily overcome, in a political sense it may cause anything from tossing out the government in power to literal revolution. Political people don't like being tossed out of office, and will generally take serious measures to prevent it if they can.

The vulnerability of the United States oil supply to foreign manipulation is a danger to the security of the United States especially because it is a danger to the security of whichever party holds office. That makes it more than an economic or strategic interest of the nation. That makes it a matter of political concern in the most powerful political circles, regardless of ideology. This is underappreciated, and likely to blow up in our faces sometime during the War on Terror.

Anyway, the Card article is interesting and thought provoking. I 50 percent strongly disagree, and 50 percent enthusiastically endorse his argument. But he's one of the few writers out there who shows original thought about this stuff, and is willing to speak his mind regardless of party lines.

Check out the article, and remember to bookmark him. He's worth reading regularly.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Gardening and Blogging

Very few people my age seem to give a darn about gardening. It's a pity. There is almost nothing I find more rewarding.

I'm not much of a flower gardener though. I put in a few so the neighbors (mostly retirees with immaculately landscaped, if modest, little plots) aren't scandalized. But I'm basically a kitchen gardener. I grow things I like to eat. And I like to eat a lot. So the possibilites are endless.

My personal obsession is tomatoes. In my very modest and rather shady suburban backyard, I have 48 tomato plants growing which I raised from seed. And a few others that are springing up from seed left in the soil from fruit that fell to the ground last year. Those of you who think all tomatoes are red, and taste the same will not understand. You have to brave the wilds of heirloom tomato territory to have an inkling of why a family of 5 (with 3 under the age of 5) can possibly want 50 plus tomato plants.

I also grow herbs. Lots of them. This is my year to learn to love tarragon. It survived a Minnesota winter and came up on its own again this spring - that earns it a special place in my heart.

I'm also taking a shot at fennel. I've always liked the stuff, but have tended to avoid it because my wife, the allergy-maven, used to think she was allergic to it. Turns out to be one of the few things on the planet she's not allergic to, so she's willing to give it another try.

Anyway, one of the wonders of my life at this point ... writing a blog about gardening, from my garden. Well, technically my deck, but I have tomatoes, herbs and flowers growing up here too. Just not as many as in the yard.

When I was a younger man one of the "deep questions" I used to ponder was about what place in time and geography I'd most want to live. Republican Rome? Delian-League era Athens? Victorian London? The answer for me now is Fridley, Minnesota. Right here. Right now. A blessed place in a special time.

Dirty TV chefs imperil Britain

Here's a funny little article:

Telegraph | News | Food hygiene survey dishes the dirt on British TV chefs

Seems the food Nazis are displeased that British chefs are still refusing to don haz-mat suits before preparing dinner.

As someone who enjoys cooking (and cooking shows), I'm on the side of the chefs. Life is a calculated risk.

I liked these items from the end of the article best:

Ms Lawson said: "You cannot turn a home into a sterile environment. My childhood was spent eating food that had my mother's hair in it, and my children do the same. I have a hardy immune system. Perhaps that is thanks to the germs.

Then there was this:

Antony Worrall Thompson, who presented BBC2's Food and Drink show for nine years, said: "If I am at home and I drop a 6lb steak on the floor, then of course I'll pick it up and dust it off. Who wouldn't? This paranoia about hygiene is the downfall of modern society. We are too hygienic, if anything, and it is destroying our immune systems."

Ok. A little overstated on the immune system stuff. But the part about being paranoid about hygiene is spot on. There's dangerously dirty; common-sense clean; and paranoid sterile. Food tastes best in the middle zone.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Bad taste and political commentary

Courtesy one of the funniest blogs on the web:Allah Is In The House

If you didn't see the lefty version with Bush eating a child, you may find this in poor taste. In fact it is. But in this case the poor taste was already established. This simply corrects the object of ridicule.

Fifty-six Deceits in Fahrenheit 911, Dave Kopel, Independence Institute

Here's an interesting little piece about Michael Moore's recent bit of agitprop. Seems to attempt a little more thorough point by point refutation than others:

Fifty-six Deceits in Fahrenheit 911, Dave Kopel, Independence Institute

Incidentally, I'm not coming from the orthodox conservative position on this. I have friends and family who have offered up perfectly reasonable disagreements with the Iraq War. This isn't a totally settled issue for me.

But I do reject blatant propaganda of this sort. Especially when otherwise respectable people fall so completely under its sway.

The right had a little problem in this area when it came to a certain President Clinton. But by and large the moonbat extreme was spurned by the conservative mainstream - despite hysterical assertions in the press to the contrary.

The left needs to get a grip here. The desire to defeat President Bush in November is not a great reason to throw in your lot with any wild-eyed loon who shares the same goal.

Wine rambling

Well this isn't a very auspicious debut. My first real post here, and I pick the topic of alcoholic beverages. What will my blogosphere neighbors think? Eh. The die is cast.

Anyway I have here a freshly opened bottle of Pepperwood Grove Chardonnay, 2002. Not something I normally buy - since I find most California Chardonnay about as interesting as pastuerized milk. But I do like to avoid the snobbery of assuming low priced wine is always swill, and this one was really inexpensive. What really got me to buy this was the snazzy new bottle design and a little advertising jacket over the neck claiming:

"Our winemaking team is ecstatic about the new Chardonnay. With expressive terrior and varietal completeness, this classic white has been redefined."

Wow. That's saying something for a six dollar bottle of wine. Heck I had six bucks on me. Worst case scenario, I'm six bucks down and still sober. Let's take her out for a spin.

The first discovery of this wine was that it has a synthetic cork. This is one of those things you either love or hate. If you think of wine as something you only bring out on rare and special occasions, the romance and tradition of the classic cork may be something you can't imagine sacrificing. If you drink wine regularly, you're tired of plunking down good money for wine spoiled by a rotten cork and welcome a some technical innovation here. Guess which camp I'm in? (*hic*)

Anyway I poured a nice glass of the stuff. Classic pale straw Chardonnay color. Then the swirl and the nose. And I smelled... nothing. Well nothing much. I think a tiny little whiff of vanilla - which isn't from the grapes but from the oak they age the wine in. Where the heck is the wine? My nose is telling me it's not there, but my eyes say it is. Let's leave it up to the tastebuds to break the tie.

A little sip. A little swishing around. Hmm..

Ok, points in its favor: it lacks almost every flavor I dislike about bad California Chardonnay. It's not over-oaked. It's not excessively alcholic. In fact, for the first time in years, I find myself terribly greatful a Chardonnay was oaked at all, because without that teeny-tiny element of vanilla, there is no taste to this stuff at all.

And that gets to the downside. I drink wine because I like the taste. If I just wanted to get drunk, there are a plethora of less expensive options. Yet here I seem to have discovered a wine only wine haters might love.

Compare that to the boast on the back label on the bottle:

"This cool climate Chardonnay exhibits ripe tropical fruit notes and bright acidity which is framed with layers of generous French Oak flavors. Sur Lies aging and partial maloactic fermentation have given it great depth and a long soft finish. "

This is a clear case of label mixup. That is nothing like this barely-detectable wine. If Pepperwood Grove ever gets around to locating the wine this label applies to, I hope they let me know. Sounds like just the thing to counteract the lingering effect of this bland plonk.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Bloggy-Bloggy Bang-Bang

Well, here we go. After spending so many idle hours reading and posting to other people's sites, I have decided to give a little back to the blog community... perhaps give it back good and hard. We'll see.

My goal with this blog? Pretty simple. A place to post all the odd little tidbits I currently scatter hither and yon all over the World Wide Web. Think of it as a personal library if you like it. Or a centrally located trashcan if you don't. I expect to have writings that cross that divide at times.

I could now ramble on like this was a dating service, and tell you all about my likes and dislikes and hobbies and grand ideas. But I think I'd rather let my subsequent writing spell that out for me. So for now adieu.