Saturday, March 27, 2004

French terror alert levels

From Oxblog.

Pathetic Earthlings: Expect La Leche Suicide Bombers Shortly

Hey, never let it be said that I have anything but love, honor and respect for women's breasts (1,2,3,4). But there's a time and a place for everything, including suckling your baby.

But oh no, this has to get the full 'civil rights' treatment. As noted here, "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present." One would hope that that would be broad enough, but some object that this does not extend also into private residences.

No doubt proponents would indulge in flights of near-orgasmic prose extolling the beauty of Nursing a Child. OK. Then why would one choose to deny the public a chance to share in the beauty? If a woman isn't discreet enough to cover up in public during the process it's clear that she craves attention, and I think she should have it. Don't the rest of us have the right to stare, comment, or perhaps even critique?

Well, yeah, there's no law against being a jerk in public. But I for one put the indiscreet breast feeders in the same category. Whether anyone else ought to have grounds for objection is beside the point.

Abuse of sentiments

Democrats are trying to make something of an innocent joke President Bush made at his own expense at a recent event in Washington. To do so they did their usual shtick, trotting out Those Who May Not Be Questioned to announce that they were offended. In this case they found Sue Niederer, the mother of a young man killed in Iraq.

Is Ms. Niederer a typical parent of a lost soldier? No, as this shows. She took part in an antiwar protest on March 14 in Dover, DE, and managed to get her name in the WaPo for her trouble. She was also covered in the Toronto Star here as published on the Common Dreams website, and here on the Not in Our Name site. Enter "Sue Niederer" into Google and you'll get at least 13 pages of entries.

I certainly don't envy her in her loss. But I don't think her son died in Iraq so she could use his coffin for a soap box.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Does this work for dysentery too?

Here's a riddle: what is it that's green that a poor man throws away and a rich man puts in his pocket?

If you don't know the answer, then read this and try again.

And remember, sharing is caring.

Via Drudge.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Bush could have done more to stop 9/11...

Admit it guys, it's true. Bush did not spend as much time as he might have on the War on Terror in the 7-plus months he had between his inauguration and the 9/11 attacks, and he was distracted by other issues.

1) Al Gore reneged on his concession to Bush and kept things dragging for weeks before he'd acknowledge what more honorable people had known since Election Day - that Bush had won the election. The Democrats continued to suggest that Bush was an "illegitimate" President, and we still run into plenty of moonbats willing to say that he was "selected, not elected". This had to be countered if his Presidency was to be able to function effectively.

2) The Democrats did what they could to deny Bush his Cabinet choices, particularly with John Ashcroft. It would have been nice to have an Attorney General available sooner to help with what later came to be called "homeland security". But the all-partisan all-the-time Democrats were more afraid of a Christian like the ones who wrote the Constitution than they were of a radical Muslim group that had already attacked the US repeatedly before.

3) Rather than clean out a lot of the existing bureaucrats, he kept on those with a long-standing record of failure like Richard Clarke and used other vipers like Joseph Wilson.

4) Senator Jim Jeffords, nominally a Republican, chose to vote for Tom Daschle for Senate Majority Leader in 2001, making it more difficult for Bush to get business done in Congress.

I'm sure there are plenty more. The general idea is that if you try to tie the President's hands, then don't come back and fuss about what he ought to have done about what ought not to be a partisan issue. And if you don't want the President to be distracted, then don't hold silly hearings like this, especially during election season.

The Status

In looking up Carol Treadwell (mentioned below) I heard about a Web product called was created when Mark Pearson, the company founder, set up a web site for his sister-in-law after she was hospitalized. Mark created the page because 'Mary' needed a way to communicate with friends and relatives without burdening herself or her close family. It became the main source of information, allowing Mary to spend less time responding to inquiries and more time recovering. Family and friends could get the latest update on her condition, see pictures of her, and get important contact information. The response was phenomenal.

When Mark began receiving requests from friends to set up pages for other people, he decided to create easy-to-use templates so patients could create their own.

Now, with, expecting parents can create web pages to keep family and friends updated on a pregnancy as well as show their new baby!

As grows, we are committed to providing users with simple, easy-to-use tools for creating personal web pages.
I don't have any links handy, but similar products exist for marriages.

Carol Treadwell

I'm watching "Cover to Cover" on CNBC about a woman named Carol Treadwell and her fight against brain cancer. And I'm cheating, looking ahead on the web to see how the story goes, or if it's over. This is what I found.

So you think you've blown some opportunities?

Ha! This guy did a better job of it than you did.

From Arts and Letters Daily.

Randomness inspired by a cheap synthesizer

Recently I was fooling around with one of those cheap synthesizer jobs from Casio. It had a few million buttons on it, so of course my inner geek had to demonstrate Technical Mastery by finagling with them. That meant playing back some of the songs in the "song bank".

I guess we've all heard many melodies without knowing their names and origins, and the saner among us probably don't worry about it. But because I'm one of those who has to watch the credits in movies, I like to know the original names and where they came from, and the song bank was revealing.

"Cielito Lindo"? No, that's the theme from the Frito Bandito! He was a promotional character sentenced to death for violating PC.

"Habanera" from "Carmen"? I first heard that on "Gilligan's Island". (So that's why artists like to control their works - here's another example)

"Ode to Joy"? I first heard it after it had been Sixtified, with lyrics like "hope and understanding" - I don't remember the artist. "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" (Walter/Wendy Carlos?), "A Lover's Concerto" (the Toys) and Beethoven's 5th have received similar treatment. (And then there was Joan Baez' "Diamonds and Rust", which was remade by Judas Priest - when does it stop?).

"Aura Lee"? Who's that? - I know it as "Love Me Tender" from Elvis Presley. Hmmm - remember that lawsuit the late George Harrison suffered, when someone said "My Sweet Lord" sounded too much like "He's So Fine"? I'm guessing you couldn't defend "Love Me Tender" that way - the other guy would just say they'd ripped off the public domain "Aura Lee" instead. Likewise for "Little Brown Jug" and Chuck Berry's only #1 hit, "My Ding-a-Ling". Then again, who's to say that the originals weren't ripped off from someone else? (As for ripoffs, what would you do with something like "Green Haze" by Elvis Hitler? He set the lyrics of the theme from "Green Acres" to the melody of "Purple Haze", and the result is better than it sounds. Oh, you know what I mean, wiseguy...).

Several other prepackaged songs I knew from movies, cartoons, other commercials, or even theme songs for professional wrestlers. Somehow it left off the themes from the "Lone Ranger" and "The Green Hornet", originally known as the "William Tell Overture" and "Flight of the Bumblebee".

Other songs it offered haven't necessarily been so commercialized, but they're so typecast you never hear them outside certain contexts. For instance, if you've been to a wedding you probably heard the "Bridal March" from "Lohengrin" on the way in and the "Wedding March" from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" on the way out (I'm using Casio's names). Inexplicably, Casio omitted Chopin's "Funeral March", which about everyone must have heard played on an organ at slow tempo in creepy settings (and for the first few notes sounds remarkably like the "Bridal March"...)

How could they miss "To Anacreon in Heaven"? Oh come on, I know you've heard it. The melody, anyway - the lyrics have been replaced many times. The most popular lyrics are from a poem called "The Defense of Fort McHenry". The resulting song is known by another name.

Once in a while a song goes from commercial to pop. I understand that the Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun" began as just a jingle for a bank and reached #2 on the Billboard charts. I can't think of any other cases, but wizards like CG Hill and Ed Driscoll probably can.

Oh, if you were waiting for some sort of point to this post, you can give up now.

Boston - what really happened

Well, I guess this isn't exactly timely, but I hadn't seen it before anyway.

I was in high school when Boston's first album came out, and it blew me away. I wasn't exactly a music authority, but I knew I hadn't heard anything like it. Like many, I eagerly awaited more followups. And waited, and waited... Since then, around 1976, Boston has released only 6 albums, and one of those was "Greatest Hits". Sheesh, and about every popular band in that era would make a few easy bucks with a live album...

What happened? The record label, CBS, tried to screw the guy who made Boston what it was, Tom Scholz. Here's the story.

Monday, March 22, 2004

But I'm sure it's accredited on Mars...

Alternate title: John Gray is from divorce court. Anyway, this is what his lawyers don't want you to see.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Give me that steak, NOW!

Here's a passage from Matt Ridley's fascinating book, Genome:
It is a curious fact that nearly all studies of cholesterol-lowering drugs and diets in ordinary people show an increase in violent death compared with control samples that usually matches the decrease in deaths from heart disease....It has been known for twenty years that impulsive, antisocial and depressed people - including prisoners, violent offenders and failed suicides - have generally lower cholesterol levels than the population at large.
The book is full of odd facts like this.

The Amazon page linked above offered Genome along with Ridley's more recent book, Nature via Nurture, selling the pair for $10 off.

The Old Left and the New Fear

Davids MedienKritik has some cites from the German press about Zapatero's plans to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq. What makes it especially interesting is that the sources typically are left of center. Quote:
The strategy of the terror war speculates not without good reason on the moral impotence of western Europe. The announcement of designated Minister President Zapatero that he will pull Spanish troops out of Iraq can be celebrated by the assassins as an easy victory. Even if one would like to view the pull-out as justified by international law, it amounts to a capitulation in the present context that enjoys wide popularity. Post-heroic societies have only very little with which they can fight terror. Their governments fear nothing more than the return home of dead soldiers. They are incapable of being offensive. In times of danger, they retreat within themselves. They can bear no losses, have no mission, indeed, not even a consciousness that they have something to defend.
Wow - it's as if they're acknowledging that they are moral free riders. For as the famous line goes, "We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us."

Serious mixed metaphor abuse Merde in France.

And I have no reason to doubt his assertion that the French have 60 nuanced ways to say "surrender".

EU corruption investigator held by police, computers confiscated

Right here.

That's not to be confused with the ongoing, underinvestigated, almost mindboggling levels of corruption at the UN, such as in the Oil for Palaces Food program. Roger L. Simon is probably the guy to see to stay up to date on this.

Stern reproach

Good grief:
Howard Stern accused Oprah Winfrey of being a fellow potty-mouth yesterday, saying the afternoon TV queen has aired the same kind of kinky sexual material for which he was being pilloried.
Being employed and oh-so-manly, I don't see much of Oprah. I don't listen to so much of Howard Stern, either - that stuff stays funny only so long once you get past junior high school. But surely he's not comparing the two shows...

Well, I could be wrong. Ladies, tune him in to see what you're missing! You're definitely missing from his demographics. I guess Howard thinks this arises not from content and presentation, but marketing failures.

Oprah can get explicit for sure. I happened to see one telecast about women who had really screwed up, and they had some doozies. The one Howard would like the most would be the 50ish woman who posed for a very explicit men's magazine.

It didn't show on TV of course, but supposedly some of the pictures were shown to the audience on monitors. The cameras panned the mostly-female audience as they about swallowed their tongues. Oprah made it sound like the woman's Fallopian tubes were showing - she kept saying "You spread your vagina!" (which reminds me of a bad joke involving an echo, but this isn't the Howard Stern show).

Anyway, that impressed Oprah as it was. But the best part was that our model was a guidance counselor at a high school, and someone there got hold of the magazine. Whoops. Her conduct was found to be inconsistent with her responsibilities.

Now suppose this woman had appeared on the Howard Stern show. Do you suppose he would have handled this differently?

Should he be disciplined for his show? Good question. He uses the public airwaves, and it's entirely appropriate for the govt to regulate them sensibly as a finite resource that crosses state jurisdictions. And I would think that there ought to be standards for what is broadcast in public just as we have standards for what is done in public. If Howard Stern can't understand that, then maybe too much masturbation does damage your brain.

OK, then what should the standards be? Like about anything else at the federal level - to the least common denominator. Just like with pollution of other forms.

How much should it cost him? He's a multimillionaire - anything less than 6 digits probably wouldn't even register, and the whole affair is giving him all sorts of valuable publicity whether he actively sought it this way or not. Maybe the Finns have the right idea...

It's not as if he has nowhere to go. Let him move to satellite radio. Maybe he can be the "killer app" that will make that technology take off.

But in the meantime he sounds like a big crybaby. And if he believes his own propaganda and thinks what's happening to him is political, maybe he should take a look at what's happening to Rush Limbaugh.