Hollywood’s Useful Idiots

Well, I didn't watch most of The Oscars last night, but I caught a bit of it. Clint Eastwood is as good as you get in Hollywood, and from what I know of him, he's a real human being. Glad he took a couple of the top prizes. My wife & I just happened to see Million Dollar Baby the night before, and I'd recommend it. Glad to see Jamie Foxx get top actor for his unbelievable performance in Ray, my personal favorite film of the year. But, of course, Hollywood is never in short supply of Useful Idiots. At Oscar time, it's as veiled as they can make it. Hell, they even managed to keep that fat, obnoxious liar Michael Moore out of it entirely this year. So, I guess they had to make up for it elsewhere, and the natural place is to be found in the short films, documentaries, foreign language films, or obscure artsy fartsy films. Did anyone notice what won best original song written for a motion picture? It's called Al Otro Lado Del Rio and it's from The Motorcycle Diaries. It was performed by Antonio Banderas singing and Carlos Santana on guitar. I thought...


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The TSA – Part 2

OK, I’ve expressed my rage over our treatment at the hands of the TSA (Yea, like I’m going to deny that it’s rage? The proper distinction is between mindless and principled.). Having read the comments thereto, let me expound in greater detail and in a calmer tone. First, I don’t get into proposing alternate (but more “efficient”) ways of disposing of your natural freedom. I don’t contrive to identify groups it would be “better” to steal from or deny freedom to. So, I won’t be proposing that you “call your congressmen” with my pat solution. I demand freedom for all human beings on the sole condition that they act as human beings, which means that they recognize all of the freedoms inherent in all others, and all that it implies. I reject the notion that there is a thing in the world too risky, too costly, or “socially unjust” about unbridled human freedom. Yes, let freedom ring. And that’s all. The issue is not that we’ll be better off if we do. It’s just what we must do, for no reason other than that we're human beings—or supposed to be, anyway. It is not my problem that you don’t feel...


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A Bizarro Day

Well, first, my wife and I go walking the dogs over at the local high school. In addition to Rotor, our rat terrier that I walk 3 miles every morning, we’re taking care of Rosie, my brother-in-law’s boston terrier, while he’s trying to sell his house. We’ve taken care of her before. While she’s protective when someone knocks on the door, she’s never been a problem over at the park running off leash. I’m so used to letting Rotor run around without keeping too close an eye on him that I let my guard down. Before I know it, I hear a noise and see a woman crouched over holding her hand, with Rosie hanging by her teeth from the woman’s jacket. There’s a fair amount of blood, and a finger wound that will likely require stitches. Damn! In such a situation, there’s nothing for a real person to do other than just be as helpful as possible. I ran to get my car and drove the woman the several blocks to her house. What great fun, looking her strapping teenage son and husband square in the eye. But you do what you ought to do, and you don’t give...


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Gorillas of the TSA

I just returned from a weeklong trip to the Hawaiian island of Kauai. In company was my wife, her parents, and my parents (yes, we all get along swimmingly). It was a great trip, all in all, not marred by one single unfortunate event. But it was tarnished, nonetheless—purposefully and willfully—by a group of loathsome people with the effrontery to call themselves “public servants.” The first incident came right at the start, leaving from San Francisco (SFO). I don’t travel a lot, per se, but I’ve made two business trips to Chicago and one to DC over the past few months. I try to block it out—the absurdity of it all—and typically I get through “only” moderately inconvenienced. I’ve never taken off my shoes, have never been compelled to do so, and have never set off the Citizen Inspection Device. So, as I’m disassembling myself (belt buckle, watch, wallet, pocket change, laptop computer, etc.), a TSA goon walks up and asks about taking off my shoes (classic Converse All-Stars with 1/4” soles, at most). I ask if it’s mandatory. He says no, “not if you have lots of time.” Since I knew I wasn’t going to set anything off, I...


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Kauai – Wrapup

I wrote briefly about, and posted some photographs of, our just-concluded week in Kauai here, here, here, here, here, and here. Because of the quite surprising level of very nice and complimentary comments and emails, I promised to put up a good collection of the images in full high-res at Club Photo. Promise delivered. Now I can get back to a little rage. It should be no surprise that my first topic will be the TSA.


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Kauai – Day 6

The tour with Safari Helicopters was fantastic. Note to Commander Preston Myers, USN (Ret.): from one former Navy officer to another, your operation is ship shape from top to bottom. Your offices (even the head), your staff, your shuttle vans, your aircraft and your all-ATP-rated pilots performed superbly, and as for the personnel, each and every one demonstrated a high degree of pride in what they do. Well done, sir. Here are a few pics (and then I'm off to the airport for the trip back). You may recognize the first one from one of the Jurassic Park flics.


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Kauai – Day 5

Well, we didn't take the helicopter tour yesterday. Scheduling conflict. It should go down today. Relatively quiet yesterday, and we topped it off with a Luau that our traveling companions treated my wife and I too. I've always resisted going to one of these group things, but this one was put on by a family who's been doing it for decades. There's nothing in the world like competence. Three pics today. This first was quite a lucky shot, I think, of a peacock trying to impress. I used the flash and it really brings out the colors. I forgot the name of this tree, but its bark is sure interesting. Some newly hatched chicks having a conference between two parked cars. I've learned that the reason for all the chickens is the hurricane that struck the island in 1992. Apparently, because of the climate, it's an ideal place to breed, raise, and train chickens for cockfighting around the world. The hurricane came through and blasted apart all the coops around the island.


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Kauai – Day 4

It goes without saying that we're having a wonderful time. Today is helicopter tour day: Waimea Canyon, Na Pali Coast and whatever else they have in store for us. Pics tomorrow. In the meantime, let's get to yesterday's pics. Thanks for all the kind comments and emails, and to answer the questions, yes, there are dozens more photos. Once I get back on Saturday, I'll throw most of them up on Club Photo and announce it here. Six pics for you today. The first is one of the four Macaws perched in the atrium of the Hyatt Regency Kauai. Next, we have the view out of the Hyatt's open air atrium. This is an exclusive place. 2005's published rates for rooms are from $455 - $785 per night. Suites start at $1,300 per night, and the presidential will set you back $4,400 (yes, per night). Here we have an attempt at an artsy fartsy pic. It's using the flash, looking out through the ferns at the Fern Grotto. Below is looking up from the grotto. I went back a few minutes later to take another, but the effect of the sun reflecting through the spray of the water was gone....


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Kauai – Day 3

So far…so good. Three days—and I’ve yet to have to suffer through some pretentious, teachy spectacle showcasing the “vast superiority” of the native Hawaiian culture to that of Western Civilization. And; you know, how much more “harmoniously” they interacted with nature, et cetera. I’ve got three pics today. One is from the beach on the southwest of the island, just north of the Navy’s missile rest range. There’s Waimea Canyon, said to be “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” or something like that. Finally, a little of the “wildlife.” Seriously though; there are thousands and thousands of chickens running wild on Kauai. This suggest two truths: there are no natural predators for either the chickens or their eggs, and, neither are the human inhabitants of the island starving.


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Kauai – Day 2

I'm really pleased with our choice of Kauai for this trip. We previously did a week in Maui, which was fantastic (do the bike ride from the top of Haleakala: 40 miles, all downhill, with only about 200 yards of peddling), and a day in Oahu, which was enough (though I'd like to explore the north and interior). Yesterday, we explored the east and north side of Kauai. Here's a couple of pics (I'd do more, but I'm on dialup, so you know how that goes):


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Hawaiian Paradise

I’m sitting here, looking out the rear sliding door of our rented condo, situated at the extreme southern tip of Kauai (Makahuena Point, Poipu). We’re right on the rock cliff’s edge and can see the sunrise to the east, and sunset to the west. We’ll be here throughout the week. I’ll toss up some pics later.


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VDH: Move Over

Billy Beck, the big show-off, parades his considerable depth of knowledge in the long-range geopolitical consequences of military history. I recommend taking the time to not only read, but understand.


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No Comment

Ann Althouse delivers a good summary on the topic of comments on blogs, which, since I just enabled comments on this blog, is of some interest to me. Perhaps someone has mentioned this before, but I think there are two kinds of blogs that transcend the left vs. right divide. Some blogs, like Instapundit, exist primarily as clearing house for links and a quick description of current events, mostly of a political nature. Other blogs, like mine, exist primarily as an outlet for my rage, joy, ideas, and analysis (i.e., commentary on a variety of things). For the former, since the point is to direct people elsewhere, comments make no sense. For the latter, it seems to me that they do make sense if one is interested in what others might have to contribute--including corrections or refutations. Of course, there are lots of blogs that do both, probably the majority. In that case, it makes sense to me that if the point of your post is only to direct people elsewhere, you disable comments for that post, and if the point of your post is to delve into some topic in more depth, you enable them.


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Not at a loss for words

Rachel Lucas, who had a very popular blog, then quit, then started again, then quit again, and then started a whole new blog...is never at a loss for words (unless she forgets about her blog for a while).


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Fraudpublicans

Shocking news out of the NYT: ...President Bush unveiled a $2.57 trillion budget for 2006, the largest in the nation's history. The cuts he called for, in areas like veterans' medical care, farm subsidies and vocational training, were met in Washington with doubts that they would ever get through the Republican Congress. ... The Cato Institute, a libertarian research institution, says overall federal spending has increased twice as fast under Mr. Bush as under Mr. Clinton. At the same time, the federal deficit is projected to hit a record high of $427 billion this year. ... "The era of big government being over is over," declared Marshall Wittmann, a senior fellow at the Democratic Leadership Council, a centrist Democratic research organization. That would certainly seem to be borne out in the record of the Republican revolutionaries, known as the "Class of 1994" for the year they were elected. Of the 30 who are still in the House of Representatives, 28 sponsored bills in the last Congress that would have increased government spending overall, according to the National Taxpayers Union, an antitax group. ... "Too many people started to believe that the surest path to re-election is to spend money rather...


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X=Blog

Law Professor Ann Althouse gives an interesting summation of her speech on blogging to the the University of Wisconsin at Madison Physics Department.


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Mencken on Free Speech

No wonder neither the right nor the left have any capacity whatsoever to tolerate it: “The danger in free speech does not lie in the menace of ideas, but in the menace of emotions. If words were merely logical devices no one would fear them. But when they impinge upon a moron they set off his hormones, and so they are justifiably feared. Complete free speech, under democracy, is possible only in a foreign language. Perhaps that is what we shall come to in the end. Anyone will be free to say what he pleases in Latin, but everything in English will be censored by prudent job holders.” – H. L. Mencken; Baltimore Evening Sun, Nov. 18, 1929 (Tim Swanson)


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The Social Security Ponzi Scheme

Jeff Jocoby, at townhall.com: You don't have to be a financial wizard to know that Social Security is a lousy investment. Unlike the money you deposit in a bank or salt away in an IRA, you don't own the money you pay into Social Security. You have no legal right to get those dollars back, and when you die you can't pass them on to your heirs. Nor can you use your Social Security account before you retire -- you can't borrow against it and you can't cash it in. You aren't allowed to put the money into a balanced portfolio. You can't even watch as the interest accumulates, since your Social Security nest egg doesn't earn any interest. Your nest egg, in fact, doesn't even exist. Because Social Security is financed on a pay-as-you-go system, the dollars withheld from your paycheck today aren't being saved in an account with your name. They are immediately paid out to retirees. The benefits you receive when you retire will be funded by the payroll taxes then being collected. But because the ratio of workers paying in to retirees taking out is steadily shrinking -- it has plummeted from 16 to 1 in...


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Libertarian Girl

A couple of months ago, everyone, present company excluded, was all abuzz about a new blog called "Libertarian Girl," that sported a pink design template and a large photo of a reasonably attractive blond. But her posts advocated all sorts of wacky things for a libertarian to advocate, such as a "breast-implant tax." Now, had people actually stopped to think right then and there, they might have smelled something fishy. But no. So, yesterday, Catallarchy posts the scoop. Within hours, the gig was up. Hilarious. I wish I could say that I wasn't had. While I stayed out of the assault leveled by other blogs, I never suspected the scam for a second.


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A Dangerous Combination

Stupidity; and too much time on one's hands... Ann Althouse asks: These are starkly opposed positions. What mental leaps are required to decide to believe one or the other? Is it perhaps possible to hold in one's mind the possibility that either might be true or that both might be part true and to make careful case-by-case decisions as we go along? Both Sharansky’s and Buchanan’s arguments ring true. Sharansky is correct that democracies, in general, are peaceful. Buchanan's claim is also true: that the U.S presence in various parts of the world is a source of resentment, and that such resentment culminates in attacks on the U.S., both here and abroad. However, I don’t agree with the conclusions Buchanan draws from his assemblage of the facts. Buchanan misses the point. Most of the “resentment” that’s being touted is just simply irrational, and that’s a very critical distinction that I never see anyone making. A bunch of religious zealots want us off their nation’s public property because we’re defiling their soil? Our culture is polluting their youth? Etc. I think there are surely reasonable cases to be made about the U.S. being too adventuresome or meddling, but the above examples,...


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