2004-09-30



As we approach the election, I'm finding the polls very interesting. A whole slew of polls on things such as the economy, other domestic items, and even building relationships with foreign nations show Bush trailing and having a generally unfavorable rating. Yet overall and overwhelmingly (including many sources that would do nearly anything to have this not be the case), Bush has a narrow but clear edge.

Why? Comfort. Safety. Trust. On anything having to do with the war on terror, being Commander-in-Chief, handling Iraq going forward, etc., etc., Bush comes out way ahead. In stark contrast to Kerry's constant waffling and double-talk, Bush says what he means and does what he says. And he means to defend America.

For all the talk of peace, and relationships with other countries, and how "badly" things are going in Iraq, at the end of the day Mr. & Mrs. Citizen park their two cars in the garage, have supper in their comfortable home, put their healthy children to bed and realize that they'd rather have France hate us than to have anything blemish their comfortable lives.

I'm not saying this is right or wrong, but I am pointing out once again that this paradox exists. We have it good in this country, yet we've been conditioned to hate ourselves for having it so good. We have and use the means to defend what we have, yet we hate ourselves when we come face to face with the cost of our good life.

I've blogged on this before, but I refer again to "A Few Good Men," to illustrate this. In contrast to the SuperEgo Daniel Kaffey (Tom Cruise), Col. Jessup (Jack Nicholson) is the crusty Id. Cruise is set up to be the hero, taking pot-shots at the military and the establishment. But in the end, for my money, Nicholson's character was the honest one. Jessup is real and represents what is hiding in all of us.
Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. ... I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. ...You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because, deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it.

A key exchange earlier in the movie between Sam (Kevin Pollack) and Jo (Demi Moore) crystalizes this tension:

Jo:      Why do you hate them so much?

Sam:   They beat up on a weakling, and that's all they did. The rest is just smoke-filled coffee-house crap...

Sam:   Why do you like them so much?

Jo:      'Cause they stand on a wall. And they say, "Nothing's gonna hurt you tonight. Not on my watch."


There it is ... everything has a price. If you want the freedoms that can be enjoyed in this country you must recognize that they were purchased with blood, and from time to time blood must be spilled to maintain them. If you don't like that, you'd better be ready to sacrifice. And let's face it, Americans don't have sacrifice in them any more - if someone can't be troubled to wait in line, do you really think they'd be willing to part with their Escalade on principle?

I have no quarrel with anyone who has analyzed the equation and taken their stand. My quarrel is with the Michael Moore's and the Al Gore's who can afford to embark on crackpot crusades that make them feel morally proud of themselves ... they can buy their way around the consequences. And my quarrel is with the naive who follow them thoughtlessly, thinking they can have their cake and eat it too.

Oh to have a magic wand that would force the airhead elite to deal with the consequences of their own actions and that would let the sheep experience for just one day the world they think and say that they want.

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2004-09-29



OK, what's the deal? Two weeks in a row now, one of our non-regional ESPN games has featured Northwestern! No offense to the Wildcats (I think that's their name), but I thought the idea behind a television network was to ATTRACT viewers.

As proud as I am of the undefeated Middies of the Naval Academy, they won't be spoilers. Even if they were to run their table, it is CFB's "Kiddie Table." It would be an amazing story, but hardly a BCS Fairy Tale.

For a while, the USC Juggernaut seemed vulnerable. Do you give them props for a monster comeback, or dis them for letting Standford in the game at all? Doesn't matter. The real question is: Did this game simply expose USC as a pretender, or was it a wake-up call from which the Trojans will never look back? Unfortunately the boys of Troy don't play a very imposing schedule, so this question may never be answered.

You never like to see an injury, but the Florida State Seminoles may one day look back at Chris Rix's sprained ankle as the thing that saved their season. The injury forced Bowden to do something he wasn't willing to do straight up - change QB's. Rix's replacement, Wyatt Sexton (a QB name if I ever heard one) played 3+ strong quarters in leading the 'Noles to victory whereas Rix had been struggling. Sexton now has two more weeks to make his case while Rix heals.

How about Vinny Testaverde. During Monday Night's win over Washington, Testaverde moved up to 10th in terms of TD's thrown by a QB, passing Dan Fouts. This amazes me because Dan Fouts was an offensive machine. Throwing to John Jefferson, Charlie Joyner and Kellen Winslow, his Charger teams lit up the scoreboard every week. They were a playoff fixture despite having absolutely no defense whatsoever.

But, I'm also amazed at Vinny Testaverde's resilience. He is rising on the all-time QB charts despite never having enjoyed a long stint as "the man" on any team. He's always been a decent QB, but never so great that he didn't have to deal with QB controversies, or so great that he knew his job was safe even when he went down with an injury. Monday Night he looked All-World which is probably also a testimony to Bill Parcells. The man knows talent and how to get the most out of his players.

Speaking of QB's, great coaches, and Monday Night, I really want to see Joe Gibbs do well in his return to the helm of the Washington Redskins. His past Super Bowl winners always featured QB's that were dependable. Right now, the Skins offense is being held together by Clinton Portis. Take him away and suddenly you are counting on Mark Brunell and he looked horrible. His decision-making displayed some maturity as he generally kept Washington out of trouble, but that's only half the battle - at some point a QB needs to lead his team to success, and Brunell just doesn't seem able to do that.

After the Packers-Colts shootout, the announcers observed that Indianapolis and New England were already beginning to separate themselves from the pack in the AFC. New England I can see, and Indy's only loss so far was a nail-biter against the Pats. But, the Colts, if they are to enjoy post-season success, must find defense somewhere. Only the Rams, several years back now, were able to win a Super Bowl with great offense and no defense. Since that year, several teams have won with great defense and only mediocre offense. Bottom Line: you need defense.

ESPN ran a great series of clips on the debacle that is the Kansas City Chiefs. There are the players saying, "We'll pull out of this slump. We've got a great coach." and then there's the coach saying, "I'm not the one who can turn this thing around. I don't make tackles and I don't score touchdowns."

There were some great games on Sunday. Chicago-Minnesota and Jags-Titans both went right down to the wire. As for the Atlanta Falcons ... I know everyone is expecting a lot of them with a healthy Michael Vick and a 3-0 start, but they only mustered 2 field goals and roughly 250 yards. Luckily they were playing the Cards so that was more than enough for a "W."

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2004-09-28



I must come clean as an avowed hater of "reality" TV. I have been catching some reality-ness and have been dying to comment. Still, I hold that much of the "reality" genre is contrived and anything but real, unless too many saturate themselves with this stuff and start believing that irresponsible, wanton, drunken behavior is the order of the day.

MTV's Real World: This was the one I had previously hated the most. What could be less real than taking adults, putting them in a house they'd likely never be able to afford, and setting them up to where they don't have to do any meaningful work for several months?

But, I've caught the beginning of the current edition and have become ensnared in the various plot lines. Some of my favorite moments so far ...

MJ making it a point to seek out the token gay guy in the house, Willie, and let him know that he's ok with him being gay. Nothing like singling out someone who is different to make a point of saying you aren't going to discriminate. By the way, later, MJ woke up to find that Willie had brought over some friends and complained that "Gay Pride, America" was in his house.

Karamo, the surprise, manly gay person on the show, morally objecting to the girls sharing beds with the guys when the A/C went out. Does the practicing homosexual have any other morality tips for us?

Then there was Willie, hooking up with old friend Daniel. "We've both been single for a while and we don't want to rush things ..." and then five seconds later ... Willie (to Daniel): "Let's go to bed." Then we're treated to shots of the "girls" in the shower and getting into bed. Don't worry ... they blurred out the butt-cracks.

So, while I guess the Real World premise is not very real, it's kind of like taking a hamster and putting it in a cage with a big wheel and water tube in the corner, or putting fish in a tank with a plasitc castle on the bottom. It's not real, but it makes it easier for someone outside to observe and learn from the behavior of the animals.


Growing up Gotti: This show follows the ex-wife and children of the late, John Gotti, former boss of the Gambino Crime Family. I stumbled on this one by accident one day, which is a surprise. I am fascinated with the Mafia and all things gangster, so, had I caught wind of this, I would have sought it out ... and been totally disappointed.

The sons are total brats. I'm not talking just a little spoiled. These guys have money, celebrity and hardly any checks on their behavior. They are over-the-top and out of control. And then there was Carmine's tantrum when he found out his brother Frank had used his hair gel - it could just as easily have been Joe Pesci in Goodfellas.

They say that, though the movies make gangsters look very wise, in reality the mafioso, in reality, are stupid. If the Gotti offspring are any indication ... this is totally true.


Wifeswap: At first I was really uncomfortable with the title - not finding even the play on words to be that amusing. But the first show was totally fascinating: they took a very orderly, organized mom who is the brains of a very anal-retentive, quiet, predictable household and swapped her out with the mother from a disheveled, messy house with all kinds of animals running all over the place. And it's not like the mom's are just hanging out ... they get to lay down the law and make changes. It was good.

The organized mom established bedtimes, got rid of the bulk of the animals, cleaned (a lot!) and got the dad to act like a parent. The play-friend mom got the uptight dad to break out his guitar, bought a kitten (unheard of in this house!) for the oldest son and generally got the household to loosen up a bit!

It was really interesting to watch the interaction and reaction to all of this.


One thing that makes me even more skeptical of reality shows: many of these shows are 30-60 minute weekly highlights taken from a 24/7 situation. You know they are chopped, sliced and diced to play up the drama, the irony and the surprising. Not only are these situations not always representative of reality, I'm guessing that much of what makes TV isn't even faithful of its representation of what actually happened in the house, on the island or wherever.

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Insanity ... continuing to do the same thing, but expecting different results ...

So ... a month or so ago, my girlfriend and I were talking about Condo-ownership and insurance (I can't for the life of me remember how we got on that) when she asked what would happen if there were an accident such as a flood in my condo that affected my neighbor's condo. The next day, while I was at church, my new puppy chewed through the supply line to my toilet causing it to spring a leak flooding my bathroom and dripping water into my downstairs neighbors bathroom and ceilings!

A couple weeks later we were driving when she asked if I ever got speeding tickets. Why she asked that, I'll never know ... ;). A few days later I got a ticket on the Watterson!

So ... she's lost her question-asking privileges!

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2004-09-25



Embattled network news dinosaur, CBS, is suddenly, and I do mean SUDDENLY, taking the high road on election "coverage."

Apparently, there was a "story" on the rationale for the Iraq War in the works, but CBS has tabled it, having determined that it would be inappropriate this close to the election.

GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

CBS couldn't care less about fairness in their election coverage and they apparently wouldn't know appropriate if it phoned in and warned them on the eve of a big smear job!

One might look at this story and be tempted to say, "Well, it seems they've learned their lesson over at CBS." That is certainly the intended effect of this story. And that's what really makes me sick ... all the posturing and smug, "there's nothing we value more than our impartiality and integrity" rhetoric, when they've so clearly demonstrated that they have neither.

There are two possibilities behind this story:

1. The first possibility is revealed in this line:
"CBS News spokeswoman Kelli Edwards would not elaborate on why the timing of the Iraq report was considered inappropriate."
The story was going to be a whack job on the President, but they can't run it now because CBS' bias would be even more obvious than it already is. Who would have thought that would even be possible? Think it through ... the line up was going to be memo story followed by Iraq War story ... followed by who knows what else? They had a whole lineup of "get the President" stories in the works.

2. There never was such a story. This is simply a "we've learned, you can still trust us," gesture.

I'm going to assume that other news organizations check their facts and go with option 1. But then again, it makes little difference to me. I wasn't planning on trusting CBS any time in the next Millenium anyway.

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Previously I wrote about Greg Maddux's incredible run of 15-win seasons. The Atlanta Braves have just completed an equally amazing feat in winning the NL East for the 13th straight season. OTB has great coverage here.

I've been a Braves fan since I was stationed in Charleston, SC and they were the closest MLB team back in the early 90's when this whole streak began. The amazing thing is how much this team has changed so many times over the past 13 years. Well, it's not amazing that they've changed ... in this era of free agency and MLB's inability to get a handle on salaries, every team has changed dramatically many times over. But with that kind of routine change, no team should be able to win year in and year out. And only the Braves have defied this gravity.

People give the Braves a hard time because they've only closed the deal on a World Series once in this run. As an Atlanta fan it has been frustrating to watch some of the post-season flops. But when you realize that after winning 7, 8, 9 (insert your own big number here) Division Titles in a row, every other team wouldn't even be in the post-season, it puts it all in perspective.

Granted, winning a division isn't quite what it used to be now that MLB has expanded to six divisions and allows two Wildcards into the playoffs each season. But this is well short of NFL-esque dilution. Does winning your MLB Division still mean something? Ask all the other teams that have won 13 Division Titles in a row!

And there's the point. If the Braves winning the NL East was as uneventful as folks now make it out to be each year, there'd be a handful of other teams doing the same thing. So, all the other teams that have won 13 consecutive Division Titles and want to criticize the Braves, step up now and speak your piece ... (*crickets*).

The Braves' run, and Greg Maddux's run are right up there with Cal Ripken's consecutive game streak. No one has done it before, and no one will ever do it again.

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2004-09-24



I'm still thinking through some of these things:

President Bush is going to tap the Strategic Reserve to make up for interruptions caused by the hurricanes. I really don't know the industry that well, nor am I familiar with Congress' frame of mind when they established the Strategic Reserve. My gut reaction on this is based on two things: 1. I personally see the strategic reserve as a safeguard against a critical shortage that poses a significant threat to the US, and 2. People don't know what an emergency is anymore. So, if we've suffered a substantial interruption, I guess this is warranted. But if we consider a 25-50 cent increase in the price of gas, suck it up!

This Strategic Reserve thing was nice in that it afforded John Kerry yet another opportunity to demonstrate his flexibility when it comes to taking sides on an issue. First he called for Bush to tap the reserve. Now he's criticizing it as politically motivated (and Democrats should be well aware of this tactic as Clinton used it leading up to the 2000 election - problem is, gas prices were simply high at the time ... there was no real significant, unavoidable cause). Find an issue and Kerry will staunchly defend two diametrically opposed positions.

The House has moved on a bill that would restrict the Federal Courts' ability to rule on the Constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance. Apparently there is a mechanism in the Constitution that allows for this, and with all the judicial activism we've seen lately I certainly sympathize with the cause. I appreciate our framers' attempts at checks and balances. I have often wondered, once they are seated, what checks a judge. As little as I trust judges these days, I trust Congress even less. And any time a new toy, like this restriction on the courts, is discovered I certainly don't trust them not to abuse it. The thought of Congress being able to enact legislation and then handcuff the courts in their ability to rule on it is frightening. The core problem: the whole thing relies on trust and duty, neither of which are in great supply anymore.

The polls are trending toward Bush, and surveys evaluating things like trust and confidence favor the President even more sharply. Here's the thing: Up to this point, when you asked a Kerry supporter about the election, there was no joyous praise of John Kerry - there was joyous opposition to the President. As the election draws near people are beginning to realize that there will be no "Not Bush" button / lever / chad / box on their ballot. They may be against Bush, but it's time to start looking at who they are going to have to vote FOR ... and that's not a pretty picture.

Speaking of Kerry, if you harbored any illusions regarding the effectiveness of the UN, the Senator's love affair with that organization ought to serve as a wake-up call. Part of me wishes there were a way to let Kerry be our President without suffering the consequences. It'd be a laugh watching him try to cultivate these international relationships that he's been promising. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be any fun becoming the world's whipping post, as we attempted to pander to France, Islam, and every other of the numerous "Hate U.S."-based agendas out there (and at home for that matter).

Here's something I can get behind: Microsoft is going after the ISP's that have been harboring the spammers! This isn't just a token gesture. They have over 100 legal actions going against spammers and are now taking on even the most militant protectors and purveyors of spam. MS takes a lot of heat from from many sides when they've simply played the game better than everyone else. All the geeks, start-ups, two-bit tech companies, etc. who have the resources to wage this kind of war raise your hand .... I thought so. Go Microsoft!

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Greg MadduxGreg Maddux has just posted 15 wins for the 17th consecutive season. Unbelievable.

It's amazing to watch Greg work these days. In the era of power, where most pitchers possess one or two pitches that they can use effectively, Maddux has an arsenal. You don't need a 90+ mph heater when you can get guys to flail away helplessly at your off-speed stuff. Maddux doesn't blow batters away, he embarrasses them.

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Miami beat Houston 38-13 last night. Now, I'm not a poor sport, and I don't want my team to run it up on the Cougars, but there aren't many Houston's on Miami's schedule. I hate to see the Canes ever take the field and not post a BCS-caliber performance. When you avoid running up the score by keeping your starting QB in the game, there's trouble.

Not that there aren't bright spots. Tyrone Moss ran for almost 150 yards, and the Canes got a touchdown each from their special teams and defense. But with his world-class offense facing a mid-major defense, Brock Berlin managed only 100 yards passing, and the Cane defense allowed 275 yards.

Will the Canes ever start playing like BCS contenders, or do we need to wait for Berlin to leave town? Virgina is waiting to find out.

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2004-09-22



I saw a commercial for Chaser the other day. This is one of those hangover cures. In general I say, "To each their own." But, in the middle of this commercial a business-looking guy grins at the camera and gushes, "It's been a real boost to my social life!"

Now, my quick objections are 1. this is the kind of thing that will obviously encourage people to drink more - from my vantage point, there is already plenty such encouragement in our society, and 2. this sends the message that alcohol is an important part of and boost for a social life, if only we could do something about those hangovers!

Bear in mind, I have no problem with social drinking, as long as it truly remains social. Personally I think this is pretty rare. "Social drinker" seems to be the acceptable label that masks a problem. Whatever the case, social drinking is not what we're talking about with Chaser. A hangover is a sign of dehydration due to excessive drinking. Now, thanks to Chaser, one can avoid this pain ... until they start hearing about all the stupid things they did while enjoying their "consequence-free" inebriation.

And that's the curious thing in life. God did us a favor and gave us pain and discomfort as mild reminders to get back on course before we veer off too far and find real trouble. Right now I'm training my dog to stay near me when we walk across the parking lot - a tug on the leash, while not pleasant, is far preferable to her dashing out and getting run over by a car some day.

Yet with all of our wisdom and technology, we seem bent on systematically removing all of God's safeguards. STD's and Pregnancy should discourage permiscuous sex, but we've found seemingly easy work-arounds for this. Hangovers and illness should curb drinking, but not anymore thanks to Chaser! Unhealthy diet and exercise habits should bring minor health problems, and overweight-ness. But, "miracle" diet solutions and plastic surgery can head off a lot of the early symptoms without dealing with the cause.

And there's the real problem. If I take down that pesky orange "Road Closed - Bridge Out" sign, it doesn't change the fact that the bridge is out and proceeding down the road will lead to peril. If one routinely embarks on nights of Chaser-aided alcoholic bliss, they are continuing to impair their judgment, damage their mind and body, destroy their family and increase the likelihood that they'll kill someone while driving drunk. But at least they won't have a headache and "cotton-mouth!" Care-free sex tears at the moral fabric of one's being, dissolving self-esteem, and harming the ability to form normal family relationships later on. Overeating and underexercising are as deadly as any vice.

So rather than applauding, or flocking to "breakthroughs" like Chaser, we now need to stop and think. As the physical and previously unavoidable deterrents are taken down, the last remaining barrier to a lot of harmful behavior is the mind. One must be able to look past the immediate pleasure and see the long-term pain enough to find self-control. Unfortunately, this is not man's forte!

Thank you Chaser, for making the drive to destruction that much more pleasant!

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I loved Burkett's (the middleman between "Lucy Ramirez," if that is her name, and CBS) quote: "I may have been a patsy." Naaah. Do you think? A stranger hands you an envelope in Houston, TX and disappears, and your thought is, "I'd better get this to CBS." Yeah, I guess you, avowed Bush-hater that you are, may have been a patsy and CBS may have been duped. The crime (moral, not legal) here is your willingness to be a patsy and CBS' willingness to be duped.

After reviewing the evidence, what really strikes me is ... how on earth did anyone expect this to fly? The document matches up perfectly to a similar document produced in MS Word with all the default settings; font, font-size, margins, etc. Even if bloggers hadn't forced the issue, it was only a matter of time before someone simply put the document in Word by chance and started putting the pieces together. Only an idiot could have thought that this would get by, yet it did with the help of a few more idiots who hoped it would get by.

You can say what you want about bloggers. The point is, they are there. Anything you put out is going to be scrutinized and dissected. You may think that's good, or you may think it's bad. But you can't think that it's not going to happen. Clever lies and hoaxes don't survive anymore. This crap didn't last two hours!

At this point I don't know which is more troubling: CBS' political bias, or their lack of intelligence.

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I had been wanting MS Office Specialist certification for some time now. It's not the most rigorous cert mind you. But, that suite has become my main axe in just about everything I do. Having the cert allows you to do things like use the MS logo on your business card, and better market your IT skills.

The downside ... it's an expensive exam if you just walk in to Sylvan.

As luck would have it, I signed on with AccounTemps today, and as part of the process I had to take two skills assessments: one in accounting and one in MS Excel. After the Excel exam, I received a prompt that said I had qualified to take the MS Office Specialist exam for free. 45 minutes later ... Voilas! Certified Office Specialist!

But, here's where I have to come clean. The exam was easy and concentrated mainly on end user type stuff ... formatting, copying formulae, making charts, etc. There was nothing about macros, nothing about Visual Basic, nothing about any of the data analysis tools, etc. Basically, it didn't touch any of the real power behind Excel. But that's OK ... I've got a grip on those things too.

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OK ... after the switch to Blogger, I've finally cobbled together a set of 3rd-party apps that roughly duplicate the functionality I had with Moveable Type:

Obviously blogspot.com for the blog hosting.

Haloscan for comment hosting, so that users don't have to log in to Blogger to make comments. Thanks to LittleA for that one.

Then there is blogrolling.com doing the "links to other blogs" piece.

Finally, so that I can blog offline and not have to mess with logging into Blogger, there is w.bloggar. So far this is a pretty sweet app.

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This from an e-mail I received (at my youth pastor addy no less) ...
You\'re invited to shop for large selection of bombs and different kinds of rockets such as surface-to-air, surface-to-surface and weaponry available at reduced price. With the following types of rockets you will be able to commit terrorist attacks, destroy buildings, electric power stations, bridges, factories and anything else that comes your mind. Most items are in stock and available for next day freight delivery in the USA.
Worldwide delivery is available at additional cost. Prices are negotiable.

You know what they say ... if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I mean sure, the negotiable prices and next day delivery in the US (I can just picture the UPS guy showing up at the door with my new surface-to-surface rocket launcher) sound nice, but something's got to give, right?

Right. And that something would be quality. This isn't bath soap we're talking about here. If I'm going to blow up a building, I want the security of knowing that that thing is coming down. Look at all the grief Wile E. Coyote went through because he insisted on going the bargain route by using Acme.

No sir. If your shifty, subversive organization wants to make a proper statement, there can be no cutting of corners. Fly-by-night internet weaponry distributors can't be trusted. For my next domestic terror attack, I'm getting my supplies from the polygamous survivalists in the Utah hills.

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2004-09-21



Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

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2004-09-17



I'm currently using a new browser: Mozilla Firefox.

The attraction: less crap on your screen, menu bars, etc.; built-in Google search as opposed to the add-in toolbar you download from Google's site, which is yet another toolbar in IE; popup blocking.

I must say, so far it is smoother, quicker and not one popup (and I even went out to Sporting News which is normally infested with the things!).

They also have this "live bookmarks" feature which works kind of like an aggregator, but I haven't had a chance to explore that too much yet.

So far this one's a keeper.

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I still say that this whole thing is a bunch of fuss and a distraction from the real issues. Still, it just keeps hanging out there, and I continue to have thoughts, and read things that should be addressed.

- Again, I am delighted to see Dan Rather and CBS in the soup. Cable news and blogdom have long since passed Network News by. But CBS in general, and Rather specifically have remained the most smug and most transparently partisan of the old school hacks.

- The next time a news person self-righteously proclaims that it is the media's job to report, not create the news ... have a good laugh. The media is biased, and they use their version of the Hypocratic Oath only when it suits them.

- I've read blogs from all parts of the political / philosophical spectrum on this issue, and most (even those that don't agree with my point-of-view) are being a great deal more fair, and open-minded than Rather himself.

- Side note: I continue to really be annoyed at having to log in at various news sites. Most of the time it is more than log in. Most of the time it is re-register because I've forgotten my username and pw since my last visit. Each one seems to have their own restrictive parameters (eg. must contain exactly 6 letters, 2 numbers, 3 punctuation marks, and 2 characters that were only possible on a 1970's era typewriter) on usernames. Otherwise I could at least just use the same user/pw combo. I should be thankful for their help with security - wouldn't want someone hacking into my NY Times account and finding out my address!

- Note to blogger: A White House conspiracy to take the attention off of President Bush? You're kidding, right? Tell me; was anything that ever happened anywhere on earth, at any time in history, now or the past or future, ever NOT President Bush's fault?

- Note to blogger: Granted it is hard for an organization like CBS to thorougly vet everything without employing a whole army of fact-checkers. Had they simply not checked, it would be carelessness, though we'd still be suspicious of their great willingness to be careless. The point is, they did check, and received a number of warnings. This isn't carelessness, or the result of being too overwhelmed to get the job done - it is willful misconduct.

As mentioned, CBS and Rather have already fallen behind pretty much every other information source in terms of credibility and audience size. Now the new media are piling on. If CBS had any hopes of reversing the trend, this was a major setback. If not they are sitting back, content to continue to abuse the sway that they hold over their ever-shrinking viewership.

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Here in Louisville, it's cloudy and it's windy. But, no rain yet. I just looked at the remaining bands of precipiation on the radar at Weatherbug, and it is all just slightly to the east of us. After early reports that we would be dumped on, could it be that we'll bypass this altogether?

I guess the bottom line is that whatever happens, we'll have faired better than a whole host of families in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

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2004-09-16



As many of you know, I'm always on the lookout for cheap, media tricks. One of the most common is the non-story - propping an item up as news that is anything but, in attempt to make things appear as they are not.

The latest example: "Kerry Could Capture Minnesota," from the Center for Public Opinion and Democracy. The story goes on to explain logically how Kerry is currently ahead in the polls in that state, and the prognosis for him prevailing there.

Here's the thing: Al Gore carried Minnesota in 2000 and, in fact, the Democratic candidate has won Minnesota in every election since 1972. Minnesota (Walter Mondale's home state) was the one state Reagan didn't get in his re-election bid. So, the "news" that this time out the Democratic candidate may take the state that Democrats have pretty much owned in Presidential elections is hardly earth-shaking or even informative.

Actually, the real story right now is that President Bush is gaining ground in Minnesota to the point where that state is almost a statistical dead heat. What's news is that this election may end the Democrats' hammer-lock on Minnesota's 11 electoral votes. Had the CPOD headline been, "Kerry Could Capture Minnesota, But then again, He Might Not," that would have been a news story.

Instead we get a tired old, "Man! the Kerry Juggernaut is rolling right along despite all the evidence to the contrary," story that could have been filed, sans the candidate's name, two years ago. I guess these are lengths an organization must go to when trying to find positive John Kerry stories.

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2004-09-15



Man, it is good to have football back!

- Troy "stuns" #17? Missouri: Why was Missouri #17? Because they are in the Big 12. Why did they lose to Troy? Because, despite being in the Big 12, they are Missouri and they are no good at football. Some day the pollsters will catch on to all of this.

- USC continues to roll. While they are still suspect, it appears the Trojans are doing everything possible to ensure that they will win or lose the championship on the field, not in the twisted iterations of the BCS formula.

- Notre Dame beats Michigan! Have rumors of the Irish demise been greatly exaggerated? No. Notre Dame is still a shell of their former self. Michigan, like most Big 10 teams, is a good team prone to playing well below its ability at times.

- Texas struggles with Arkansas. Texas and Oklahoma are there to perpetuate the myth of Big 12 dominance. Eventually they will play each other and one of them will have to win. Then the winner will be able to say, "Look we played Texas (or Oklahoma) and they're good, so we must be really good."

- Ohio State struggles at home (one of the largest, most home team friendly venues in sports) with Marshall. They'll continue to be ranked highly because hey! They won the championship two years ago, so they must be good this year. That's OK. The Buckeyes will not escape their heavy Big 10 schedule this time out.

- Fresno State! First Washington, and now they absolutely exposed and embarrassed Kansas State (#14 because they are in the Big 12). Too bad the FSU Bulldogs don't get to play any good teams this year. It'd be nice to see if they were the real deal. I saw part of that game btw ... Sproles is absolutely the only thing K State has going. Their QB's are horrendous and obviously there are some problems on D.

- Indiana beats Oregon! The movement to elevate the Pac 10 to elite status gets rammed by the USS Reality.

- Nebraska loses to Southern Miss. Nebraska, K State, Missouri all losing to teams that the Big 12 uses to pad their schedule ... could it be that the Big 12 isn't as good as they say?

- Colorado over Washington State. Cutting back on the drunken orgies is already starting to pay dividends for the Buffs.

- Miami over Florida State. Although Brock Berlin put it together at the end, both teams still have to be concerned about their uninspired QB play. And Larry Coker has to also be concerned that once again his team appears to be motivated to play well only during the final few minutes of the game.

- Georgia narrowly escaped South Carolina, but I'm not holding that against the Dawgs. South Carolina is no slouch. There's the Lou Holtz factor, plus the Gamecocks have always been one of those teams that never seems to show it over the entire season, but can play with the best team in the country on any given Saturday.

- Here's hoping Sylvester Croom will have some success at Mississippi St. so that folks will stop talking about him as a black head coach and start talking about him as the good head coach that he is.

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Monday, Texas Ranger relief pitcher Frank Francisco became irate and threw a chair from the bullpen into the stands at Oakland Coliseum, injuring a woman. The following morning he was arrested and will be charged with battery in addition to a likely civil suit.

On the one hand, I'm pleased that the man was arrested and charged. It is high time that criminal activity be treated like criminal activity, even when it happens under the auspices of athletic competition. It is high time that athletes be held accountable for their actions.

On the other hand, I'm a little distressed at some of the discussion I'm hearing. Questions like, "Did the fans step over the line?" imply that perhaps Francisco was justified, that there might be some point at which one just has to say, "That's it! It's time I threw a chair at your head!"

I understand that fans can get out of hand. They too should be held accountable. A ticket is not a license to act like an obnoxious pig. I've been there, and I've heard the logic. "I work hard all week. I'm out at the game and this is my chance to let loose." And then they proceed to do and say things that a person is never justified in doing or saying, regardless of when and where you are, how much you paid for your ticket, how difficult your life is, etc.

Throw alchohol into the mix and the whole situation grows exponentially more ugly.

The real lesson hidden in all of this: words are powerful. They hurt, they crush, they incite! People need to understand this and measure carefully what they say. Athletes need to understand this and be ready. Picking up that chair was a choice. Whatever verbal mayhem inspired the act, Francisco was the one who moved the situation beyond words. Now he must be held accountable.

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2004-09-14



All right! Enough of memo-gate-water. As much as I'm sick of this ugly dog of a campaign, I'm even more fed up with the cheap crap!

During the discussion of the controversial "smoking memo" on Fox last night, the guest talked about how this issue had the Bush camp happy and Kerry in a tizzy because all the discussion was on the memo and not Bush's Guard service where it should be.

Well, it seems that your moment of clarity has fallen a little short, madam. The discussion shouldn't be on the memo, or the Guard service. Let's talk about the state of the country, the world and what each man would do at the helm over the next four years. Neither candidate is real strong on the "what happened 35 years ago" front, which makes me wonder why so many are so bent on keeping the focus there.

In general I'm giving both candidates a pass on this kind of thing as it seems like a lot of the damage is being done by parties like CBS and the Swiftboat Vets ... forces beyond their control. I almost feel for them as they are perpetually in a "what the heck do I do with this?" situation.

However a slap on the hand goes to Kerry who just can't seem to totally step back from anything without taking a cheap shot. The latest installment is his criticism of Bush for not "explaining himself" on this issue. Please. This matter clearly doesn't warrant a response. Turn the tables and Kerry would be snobbishly indignant.

I am overjoyed to see CBS revealing their true colors, and hopefully this situation is waking up any citizens who still lived under the illusion that the media is simply an unbiased information conduit. And, Dan Rather has moved back in front in the most annoying, old media hack race. Thanks for your assurances of the memo's authenticity, Dan. That and a quarter will buy me a gumball. Go figure the growing lack of respect for your integrity.

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I had a lot of fun with the first edition of Terrible Swift Word, and it went well. It was fun to vent and I made a lot of friends.

Let me also say that those
TypePad blogs are awesome. Unfortunately they cost $$, and as I'm embarking on Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover it's an expense I can do without.

So here we go. There's an election on, we had a mushroom cloud in N Korea, and things continue to be interesting in Middle East. Blog opps abound!

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