The last six weeks have made me wonder when, or if, I'll ever have time to keep this blog regularly updated. Since my last post, more important things have dominated my time. My last grandparent, my Granny, passed away Monday last week.. Before that, I'd spent a couple of weeks nursing my wifey through a bout with kidney stones. Before that, out of town with work. Throw in Christmas, visiting relatives and shopping for gifts. I just chose not to even try to post.
From here on, we'll just see what happens.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
The last six weeks have made me wonder when, or if, I'll ever have time to keep this blog regularly updated. Since my last post, more important things have dominated my time. My last grandparent, my Granny, passed away Monday last week.. Before that, I'd spent a couple of weeks nursing my wifey through a bout with kidney stones. Before that, out of town with work. Throw in Christmas, visiting relatives and shopping for gifts. I just chose not to even try to post.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
An Islamic teacher at a Johnston County, North Carolina high school has resigned after students discovered hidden messages in a class assignment. The student in the Spanish class were given an extra-credit word search that required them to translate vocabulary words and find them in a grid of letters. After seeing the words "terrorist" and "destroy", the students found the following message:
"Destroy America" it said. Well isn't that just special! Sounds like the teacher is one of those kind, peaceful Muslims.
"Sharon killed a lot of innocent people in Palestine. Hamas is not a terrorist group. They have the right to defend their country. This is something that forms part of our freedom and dignity. Allah help destroy this body of evil that is making human life so miserable. Destroy America, a country where evil is sponsored."
Posted by Michael at 10:31 AM
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
A fourth grader at Central Park Elementary School in Aberdeen, Washington was suspended for refusing to answer a question on an exam. The test, the Washington State Assessment of Student Learning exam, called WASL, is part of the state's No Child Left Behind test.
The question Tyler Stoken refused to answer was, "While looking out the window one day at school, you notice the principal flying in the air. In several paragraphs, write a story telling what happens." Tyler was afraid to write anything for fear of offending his school's principal. The exam asked students to write the first thing that came to their mind, and the first thing that came into Tyler's mind was that the principal was a witch flying on a broom. He liked the principal, and didn't want to offend her by writing about her as a witch. Apparently offended anyway, the principal suspended him for .
Because Tyler didn't answer the question, (school Principal Olivia) McCarthy suspended him for five days. He recalls the principal reprimanding him by saying his test score could bring down the entire school's performance.
"Good job, bud, you've ruined it for everyone in the school, the teachers and the school," Tyler says McCarthy told him.
McCarthy's May 6, 2005, letter to Tyler's mother detailed her son's suspension. "The fact that Tyler chose to simply refuse to work on the WASL after many reasonable requests is none other than blatant defiance and insubordination," McCarthy wrote.
In the letter, she accused Tyler of bringing down the average score of the other 10 students in his class. "As we have worked so hard this year to improve our writing skills, this is a particularly egregious wound," McCarthy wrote.
Her accusation was wrong, state regulations show. There is no averaging of the writing scores. Each student either meets or fails the state standard.
I hope there's some outrage over this in the Aberdeen community.
Posted by Michael at 8:45 AM
Monday, November 06, 2006
For those of you with a bit of free time, here are a few ways you can waste it...
David Letterman Top Ten List
Recapping the previous night's TopTen list, plus archives.
The Center For The Prevention of Shopping Cart Abuse
"...to help you understand this unspoken threat, to offer counsel to those who cause harm to the Cart and to sing the praises of the silver chariot of the parking lot."
How To Destroy The Earth
Quite an interesting read, actually. Mind you, we're talking the whole planet. Molten core and all. Be sure to read the companion pieces "Why Destroy The Earth?" and "International Earth-Destruction Advisory Board."
Optical Illusion Image Galleries
Just what it says.
What American Accent Do You Have?
Take the quiz and find out. Apparently mine is a "Midland" accent, like southern Indiana or Missouri, but possibly Charleston or Atlanta (how's that for specifics?).
Posted by Michael at 3:36 PM
Writing at Bloomberg.com, Kevin Hassett explains why non-political financial experts agree that the economy is very strong, despite what the Left would have you believe.
Posted by Michael at 8:28 AM
Sunday, November 05, 2006
With election day Tuesday, it seems like everywhere I go in search of news I see headlines predicting the Democrats regaining control of the House and Senate. This is what’s going on, if the media is to be believed: there’s great disenchantment within the GOP; the main voting base of the Republican Party is disgusted with the way the party has handled everything the last six years, and plans to either vote Democratic in protest, or not vote at all; every undecided or independent voter in America will be voting for a Democrat.
Up to a point, the media is correct. There is a fair amount of disappointment in the Republican Congressional leadership. They’ve had every opportunity to be fiscally responsible, to cut spending, eliminate bureaucratic excesses and restrict lobbyist influence peddling. Instead, we got the largest federal budget in history. Government spending on pork projects has grown obscenely. They could have taken serious actions to close the border between the U.S. and Mexico, and move to deport those illegals already in this country. Nothing doing. We get a bill authorizing a 700 mile fence. Nice, except that the fence will be a couple thousand miles short. The broadest base of the Republican Party, those of us in the red states, voted these jokers into office to do those type things. Because they have neglected these duties, there IS a sense of disappointment among Conservatives.
But the Republicans have been doing some things right, some very important things. The most important issue facing this nation right now is security. President Bush and the Republicans have led the fight to keep this nation safe and secure. We haven’t been attacked since September 11th. We’ve liberated the Iraqi people, who now have a government that was freely elected and which represents all of the Iraqi people. The U.S. economy is growing stronger and more vibrant than ever before. We’ve seen record stock market prices, record home ownership levels, lower and lower unemployment, millions of new jobs… it goes on and on. The President’s tax cuts have made a difference, putting more money in everyone’s pockets and, in turn, building the economy. More renewable fuel facilities have been constructed or proposed in the last six years than ever before, to help lessen our dependency on foreign fuels.
What can we expect from the Republicans if they retain control of both houses of Congress? I’d like to be optimistic, but I fear that we’ll see more of the same. But if the Democrats were to gain control of the House or, worse yet, both the House and Senate… you know what we’ll see. The War of Terror will be compromised because the military will be pulled from Iraq, and perhaps Afghanistan too. The tax cuts which have spurred the economy will be eliminated. Our taxes will go back up. The Estate Tax, aka the “Death Tax“, will be rolled back out. Charles Rangel, who could wind up chairing the House Ways & Means Committee, has gone on the record saying there are no Bush tax cuts he wouldn‘t try to overturn. The minimum wage will be increased dramatically. This country will move closer and closer to socialization of medical care. In every aspect, the liberal agenda will be pushed further and further.
It’s a simple thing for those of us who believe in liberty and individual rights and freedoms. We can cast a hopeful vote for the Republican candidate for House or Senate and hope they’ll represent us like we expect them to. Or, we hold our nose and vote for the Democrat. In that case, we get what we deserve.
Posted by Michael at 10:02 PM
Friday, November 03, 2006
The New York Times reports that Saddam Hussein actually did have a nuclear weapons program and, as of 2002, United Nations inspectors believed the country was on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away. The federal government set up a Web site to make public a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war, and these documents seem to support the belief that Saddam was actually a dangerous leader with programs to build so-called weapons of mass destruction. Go figure...
Posted by Michael at 3:00 PM
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
The Center For Media And Public Affairs, a media watchdog group, has studied the network news coverage (PDF) for Democratic and Republican candidates during this election season, and found (not so surprisingly) a media bias toward Democratic candidates. Based on 167 mid-term election stories aired on the Big 3 Nets, Democratic candidates and members of Congress received positive evaluations on-air more than 75% of the time. For Republicans, only about 12% received a favorable view.
Posted by Michael at 8:45 PM
Friday, October 27, 2006
Columnist Mona Charen gives us 13 Reasons To Vote Republican on November 7th. Among them: the fantastic American economy, courtesy of President Bush's tax cuts; the fact that the U.S. haven't been hit by another terrorist attack since 9/11; and Libya has given up its nuclear ambitions.
Posted by Michael at 2:54 PM
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Sunday, October 22, 2006
GRIN - Great Images In NASA Libraries
Nice database of images from throughout NASA history.
Stick Figures In Peril
Photos of warning signs showing stick figures in dangerous, often life-threatening, situations.
Absurdly Cool Freebie Finder
Just what it says, a directory of free stuff available through the Web.
Flip This Lawsuit
For fans of the Trademark properties crew from the TV show "Flip This House".
See the world through the eyes of Google Earth.
Posted by Michael at 4:27 PM
Friday, October 20, 2006
CNN is showing a video of insurgent snipers in Iraq targeting and shooting an American soldier. They say it's important and newsworthy. Politically-motivated is more like it. I wonder... would CNN be so quick to show this video if the sniper was targeting a reporter?
Posted by Michael at 11:07 AM
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Donald McConnell is the dean of the Trinity International University's Trinity Law School, as well as a fellow blogger. His post today, "Politics and Love", discusses how we can act out of love, yet appear unloving. It's a great read for everyone. An excerpt...
A good parent cannot always give in to the felt needs of their children. Bad behavior must be disciplined so that the children will grow up to be virtuous and happy adults. Budgets must be kept so that real present and future needs can be met. Difficult priorities must be set. Children may think good parents are unloving when they discipline them and when they say “no.” But the children of lax parents know deep in their heart that they are really unloved – because their parents care more about impressions and convenience than reality. Wishful thinking and appeasement are not good for families or nations.
So we speak the truth in love – even when it makes some people think we are unloving. Real love, as ethicist Lewis Smedes said, is wishing the other well and acting reasonably upon that wish. Real love is not wanting to be loved and doing whatever you think people think they want to win their love – no matter how damaging or unaffordable.
Posted by Michael at 7:59 PM
Monday, October 16, 2006
The State of Georgia requires 3rd, 5th and 8th grade students to take the CRCT, or Criterion-Referenced Competency Test. They are supposed to pass this test, showing whether or not they are working at their grade level, before being promoted to the next grade. Those who fail can take the test again. There is a waiver available to students who, at the principal's discretion, are performing well in class but fall just short of passing the CRCT. Sounds fair to me. Certainly no single test should determine if a student is prepared to advance. That being said...
Here in Bibb County, nearly 1,100 students in those three grade levels in Spring 2006 failed the CRCT and the retest. Of those, only 71 were held back. More than 93% who failed were passed on to the next grade.
None of the 432 eighth-grade students who failed were held back. Not a single one.
Is it possible that every single eighth-grade student who failed the test were actually working at or above grade level? The odds on that must be astronomical. Or is it more likely that the principals chose to simply overlook the CRCT scores and socially promote nearly every one of these students?
Posted by Michael at 3:11 PM
We had a fantastic trip to Charleston, South Carolina. I can't wait to go back again. Coming home from a fun vacation is always hard, but getting back in the swing of things at work is so much worse. Spending the last nine days (mostly) away from any and all things news-related was also sweet.
Posted by Michael at 12:34 PM
Friday, October 06, 2006
The media-enthralled side of me found this story interesting. The popular "Veggie Tales" animated Christian children's series has recently been added to the NBC Saturday morning lineup. The creators knew that some Christianity-specific lines might have to be changed. According to this interview with Phil Vischer, one of the co-creators, they never anticipated the amount of change that would be necessary. Apparently NBC never realized the show had a religious basis. You might think the creators would be upset by NBC's desire to change the shows, but I really like Vischer's attitude about it all...
I’m baffled when we Christians are shocked that the world is acting worldly. I wasn’t surprised at all. I’m hoping the reaction doesn’t turn into a letter-writing campaign to make a big stinky fit. It’s NBC. What did you expect them to do? Jesus warned us that we will not be popular.
Posted by Michael at 10:19 AM
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
A Gwinnett County, GA woman is again pushing to have the Harry Potter books removed from school libraries. It's mostly the same old prattle: they promote witchcraft, blur the line between reality and fantasy, etc. But there's a new twist this time around. She's claiming they create the right culture and conditions to lead to school shootings. Geez...
Posted by Michael at 2:40 PM
DDT, the most effective pesticide ever developed for fighting mosquitoes, is making a comeback in the Third World. John Stossel details the hysteria that let to the banning, and the rebirth, of a pesticide the World Health Organization now says "presents no health risk when used properly."
Posted by Michael at 2:28 PM
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
This editorial from Yahoo News asks the same questions lots of folks are asking. Some excerpts:
...it didn't take long at all after Foley's resignation for the Democrats to call for an investigation of the entire Republican leadership in the House, charging that GOP stalwarts knew early on that Foley, as they like to say in the rehab business, had a "problem."
Democrats have begun losing their once-significant lead in the polls, and a mere five weeks before the midterm elections. Is this scandal the Democrats' own "October Surprise," meant to throw the GOP into a tailspin shortly before the vote?
Despite this, the immediate take by Democrats and much of the mainstream media was that this was a classic example of Republican hypocrisy -- talking "morals" and "values" while all the time shielding a child predator. But it was nothing of the kind.
If anything, the episode reveals the Democrats' hypocrisy about their own behavior. The fact that Foley resigned virtually within minutes of being told that ABC News had copies of his salacious e-mails and text messages indicates he at least felt shame for his actions. Can the same be said for Democrats?
Sadly, it doesn't seem so. How else can you explain the following?
In 1983, then-Democratic Rep. Gerry Studds of Massachusetts was caught in a similar situation. In his case, Studds had sex with a male teenage page -- something Foley hasn't been charged with. Did Studds express contrition? Resign? Quite the contrary. He rejected Congress' censure of him and continued to represent his district until his retirement in 1996.
In 1989, Rep. Barney Frank, also of Massachusetts, admitted he'd lived with Steve Gobie, a male prostitute who ran a gay sex-for-hire ring out of Frank's apartment. Frank, it was later discovered, used his position to fix 33 parking tickets for Gobie. What happened to Frank? The House voted 408-18 to reprimand him -- a slap on the wrist. Today he's an honored Democratic member of Congress, much in demand as a speaker and "conscience of the party."
In 2001, President Clinton, who had his own intern problem, commuted the prison sentence of Illinois Rep. Mel Reynolds, who had sex with a 16-year-old campaign volunteer and pressured her to lie about it. (Reynolds also was convicted of campaign spending violations.)
You get the idea. Democrats not only seem OK with the kind of behavior for which Foley is charged, but also they protect and excuse it. Only when it's a Republican do they proclaim themselves shocked -- shocked! -- when it comes to light.
We have a lot more questions about this whole affair. The timing of the revelations, as we noted, couldn't be more propitious for the Democrats. Turns out both the Democrats and several newspapers seem to have known about Foley's problem as far back as November, according to research by several enterprising blogs.
Why didn't they come forward then? Who dredged up these e-mails -- and why did they hold them until now? This reeks of political trickery.
Sounds like some pretty good questions.
Posted by Michael at 9:17 PM
Mark Goley was sharing some very inappropriate emails and IM's with underage kids. We know it and he resigned because of it. Those facts are not in dispute. He's a sick person, and he deserves far worse treatment than he's probably going to get.
But, the story behind the story is getting pretty sordid. Copies of emails have been released, supposedly exchanged between Foley and one or more Congressional pages. Much like the CBS Memogate scandal, a lot of scrutiny is being put on those emails. And you know, some pretty odd things are turning up.
Wild Bill at Passionate America, and others, have noted that the emails seem to have been altered or retyped before being released. Blogger Rick Moran at Rightwing Nuthouse has looked into the web site that "broke" the story. Sounds like a concerted effort to bring Foley down. It's an interesting read. Gateway Pundit looks at someone who may have been trying to "out" Foley for some time.
I'm no conspiracy nut, but this is all very interesting.
Posted by Michael at 9:15 AM
Last week, the Macon Telegraph had stories and pictures from the latest expedition to the undersea resting place of the USS Macon. Before it went down in 1935, it was the world's largest airship, measuring 785 feet in length.
This morning, we see what looks to be the next generation in airships, built by Millenium Airship Inc. These futuristic looking craft will have enormous payload capabilities, and the ability to load or unload cargo anywhere, even at sea. Pretty neat...
Posted by Michael at 8:36 AM
Monday, October 02, 2006
Like most people, my stomach has turned reading about the inappropriate emails and instant messages sent by Florida Rep. Mark Foley to some congressional pages. The guy is sick, plain and simple. Not because he was interested in other guys, but because he was interested in underage guys. A person's orientation is their own business. But these were kids, and this slimeball seems to have been trying to entice them. That deserves investigation.
I hate that this guy is a Republican, but he had to go. It means losing that seat in the House, but that's not important. I also hate that the Dems are going to try to make political hay out of this. But you know what, if the GOP leadership knew ANYTHING about Foley's actions and did nothing to remove him... well, we deserve what we get.
Posted by Michael at 3:47 PM
This is the new (and hopefully improved) look for AWFTR. I think I'm happy with the way it's turning out. I'm feeling recharged, and ready to bring this thing back to life. Of course, the law of unintended consequences brought itself to bear during the makeover. I've lost all the visitor tracking statistics from the first two years of this blog's existance. That's not a problem, though. We're looking ahead, not behind. I think the design is more appealing to the eye. Comments and backlinks should be easier now, also.
Now, if I can just get back everyone lost during the sabatical...
Posted by Michael at 3:36 PM
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Recently I've grown more and more unsatisfied with the look and feel of this blog, but I really haven't had time to do a complete rework on it. Rather than make small tweaks here and there, I just took a break for a while. In TV terms, I put the darned thing on hiatus. But soon, a new look will be unveiled. Stay tuned...
Posted by Michael at 11:22 AM
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
To me, that would be Bob Hope. No one was off limits, and his humor was always good natured. For my money, the greatest comic/comedic actor of all time. I've been watching an old movie of his, "The Ghost Breakers". Long plot made short, Hope tries to help Paulette Goddard rid her ancestral home of ghosts and bad guys. Hearing about zombies, Hope asks Richard Carlson's character about them...
Carlson: "It's worse than horrible because a zombie has no will of his own. You see them sometimes walking around blindly with dead eyes, following orders, not knowing what they do, not caring."
Hope: "You mean like Democrats?"
Posted by Michael at 10:17 AM
Friday, August 04, 2006
Connecticut millionaire businessman Ned Lamont, who sharply criticized the employment practices of Wal-Mart this week in his campaign to unseat Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Democrat primary. Turns out, Lamont and his family own about $31,000 in Wal-Mart stock, producing $3,500 annually in dividends to the Lamonts. In addition, Lamont set up a trust fund for one of his children with $15,000 of Wal-Mart stock, generating over $1,000 annually in dividends. I suppose he figures they might be an evil, bad company, but their money's just as green as everyone else's.
Posted by Michael at 1:44 PM
The more that's uncovered about the supposed Israeli "massacre" of civilians in the Lebanese city of Qana, the more certain it is that the "massacre" was a staged event by Hezbollah. Staged to make Israel look evil. It sure worked, the world media ate the story up. There's never been an anti-Israel story the mainstream media didn't like. Especially now. But this one is falling apart, and David Warren discusses how it's going down.
Posted by Michael at 9:34 AM
Monday, July 31, 2006
Thursday, July 20, 2006
From Cybercast News Service...
Comedian/activist Dick Gregory told the 97th annual convention of the NAACP in Washington, D.C., this week that the problems faced by African Americans are caused by several factors, including an "insane, racist system" that favors whites and pollution that "turns ordinary people into violent criminals."
Among his insane comments, Gregory said, "Whole lots of folks, not just rednecks, will not refer to a black person as 'Mister' or 'Ms.,' but they got a candy bar named Mister Goodbar, and the candy bar's darker than me, but they call it 'Mister' and call me 'Boy.'"
"The FBI has documents on the relationship between lead exposure and homicide," but "nobody knows about it."
Citing an FBI file by Roger Masters of Dartmouth College -- whose study found that criminal activity is higher in areas with high lead and manganese pollution -- Gregory charged that "polluted water can cause brain damage that turns ordinary people into violent criminals."
"They convince you that I'm just a heathen and I murder just 'cause I want to murder," but "I murder because something's in my food, something's in my water," Gregory said.
"Malt liquor is made by white beer companies but only sold in black neighborhoods, and you don't get suspicious? They put a thing in it called manganese, and once you get so much manganese in you, you will kill your momma, but they've got you believing that's normal for you to act that way."
Posted by Michael at 9:09 AM
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
We're already seen where many of the poor, displaced Katrina refugees spent the taxpayer money they were given following the hurricane. You've probably heard about the alcohol, lap dances, porn and drugs that many of the "unfortunates" received using our taxpayer money. Here's more evidence of governmental incompetence when it came to Katrina. This time, it involves purchases made by Homeland Security employees using government spending cards. Again, these were purchases by federal employees (using our tax money) for emergency relief use. Among the items found by the audit...
More than 100 laptop computers and a dozen boats bought by Homeland Security employees, computers and boats which are now missing
More than 2,000 sets of dog booties, costing $68,442, that have sat unused in storage since emergency responders decided they were not suited for canines assisting in Gulf Coast recovery efforts.
Three portable shower units for $71,170 from a contractor who investigators said overcharged the government. Customs and Border Protection agents could have gotten similar showers for nearly a third of the price, and faster.
12 Apple iPod Nanos and 42 iPod Shuffles, worth $7,000, for Secret Service "training and data storage."
37 black Helly Hansen designer rain jackets, costing nearly $2,500, for use in a firing range that the Customs and Border Protection purchaser later acknowledged shuts down when it's raining.
Conference and hotel rooms at a golf and tennis resort at St. Simons Island in Georgia, worth $2,395, for training 32 newly hired attorneys when they could have used a nearby federal law enforcement training center.
A beer brewing kit and ingredients for more than $1,000 for a Coast Guard official to brew alcohol while on duty as a social organizer for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. "The estimated price for a six-pack of USCG beer was $12," the investigators noted, adding: "Given that the six-pack cost of most beers is far less than $12, it is difficult to demonstrate that the Academy is achieving cost savings by brewing its own beer."
Homeland Security isn't the only agency singled out in the audit.
Our tax money at work, folks...
Customs and Border Protection wasted up to $464,586 by buying meals-ready-to-eat over the Internet instead of contracting through the Pentagon, as is standard procedure.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency cannot locate 107 laptops, 22 printers and two GPS units worth $170,000. FEMA also cannot find 12 of 20 boats the agency bought for $208,000.
Posted by Michael at 2:48 PM
Friday, June 30, 2006
Lawmakers in France have approved a law that would require Apple to make its iTunes Music Store and iPod compatible with rival music players and online services. The decision could lead to Apple pulling both from the French market. Apple spends millions in research and development to create the iPod and iTunes, they should have every right to make both of them proprietary. This French law is a great example of anti free market ideals. I hope Apple refuses and pulls out of France alltogether.
Apple described the law as "state- sponsored piracy" when it passed the National Assembly in March, and U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said he supported the company's protest.
Posted by Michael at 10:51 AM
Thursday, June 29, 2006
The lead singer of the pop/rock group Blink 182 has become the latest idiot to come forward with the belief that the Bush Administration was behind the September 11th attacks. He follows Charlie Sheen, who showed his ignorance by suggesting the same thing in March.
Posted by Michael at 3:44 PM
The U.S. economy is remaining strong, as new figures from the Commerce Department illustrate (pdf file). The first three months of 2006 saw the economy grow at a rate of 5.6%, the fastest rate in 2 1/2 years. That's up considerably from the final quarter of 2005, which was very negatively affected by hurricanes along the Gulf Coast. Expectations for hte second quarter of 2006 are between 2.5 and 3%.
Consumer spending was up 5.1% during the period, and business spending on equipment and software was up nearly 15%.
Posted by Michael at 3:21 PM
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
I'm not advocating it, but let's look at something interesting. The NY Times published a story revealing that the National Security Agency was listening in on calls from al Qaeda suspects abroad to people in the U.S. Last week a Times article revealed details about how the U.S. tracks terrorist financing through a consortium in Belgium.
Some are suggesting these actions may violate the Espionage Act of 1917. Here is Section 798 of that Act...
The Times certainly has violated subsection (a)(3): concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States, assuming the anti-terror programs were considered "classified". Perhaps the Times should be prosecuted. Their reporting on these issues certainly harms our government's efforts to use these programs to thwart terrorists.
§798. Disclosure of Classified Information.(a) Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information—(1) concerning the nature, preparation, or use of any code, cipher, or cryptographic system of the United States or any foreign government; orShall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.(b) As used in this subsection (a) of this section—
(2) concerning the design, construction, use, maintenance, or repair of any device, apparatus, or appliance used or prepared or planned for use by the United States or any foreign government for cryptographic or communication intelligence purposes; or
(3) concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government; or
(4) obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of any foreign government, knowing the same to have been obtained by such processes—
The term “classified information” means information which, at the time of a violation of this section, is, for reasons of national security, specifically designated by a United States Government Agency for limited or restricted dissemination or distribution;
The terms “code,” “cipher,” and “cryptographic system” include in their meanings, in addition to their usual meanings, any method of secret writing and any mechanical or electrical device or method used for the purpose of disguising or concealing the contents, significance, or meanings of communications;
The term “foreign government” includes in its meaning any person or persons acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of any faction, party, department, agency, bureau, or military force of or within a foreign country, or for or on behalf of any government or any person or persons purporting to act as a government within a foreign country, whether or not such government is recognized by the United States;
The term “communication intelligence” means all procedures and methods used in the interception of communications and the obtaining of information from such communications by other than the intended recipients;
The term “unauthorized person” means any person who, or agency which, is not authorized to receive information of the categories set forth in subsection (a) of this section, by the President, or by the head of a department or agency of the United States Government which is expressly designated by the President to engage in communication intelligence activities for the United States.
As for arguments about freedom of the press... that freedom extends only up to the point that it conflicts with the national security of the U.S.
Posted by Michael at 10:39 AM
Monday, June 26, 2006
Last year at this time, my bride and I were in Jamaica on our honeymoon. The people we met were so kind, and the island is beautiful. But there is a tremendous amount of poverty. That's why I want to share this story...
Barbara Gilbert is a waitress from Jacksonville, Florida who doesn't even own her own home. Yet she spearheaded an effort that has built a 14-home village for some of Jamaica's poorest families. She pledged over $200 a month of her own money, and solicited donations from others. The total amount raised was $69,000. The village cost $50,000, leaving $19,000 to build individual homes across the country.
The organization Barbara worked with is called Food For the Poor. They provide food, housing, health care, education, water projects, micro-enterprise development assistance and emergency relief to the poorest of the poor throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. If you are looking for a charitable organization to support, you might keep them in mind. They are working hard to help the poor throughout the area, and particularly in Haiti, which might be the poorest nation in our hemisphere.
Posted by Michael at 2:20 PM
The U.S. government has a secret hotline connecting Homeland Security with the nation's 50 governors. They've had to place that number on the Federal Do Not Call Registry after being deluged with telemarketer calls.
Posted by Michael at 1:19 PM
Friday, June 23, 2006
The federal estate tax, also known as the death tax, will be a burden for at least a few more years. Libs opposed to anything representing success and achievement have prevented Republicans from doing away with perhaps the worst tax on the books. Instead of eliminating the tax, it will increase the exemptions beginning in 2010. The exemptions would be $5 million of an individual's estate, and $10 million of a couple's estate. After that, an estate worth up to $25 million would be taxed at capital gains rates, currently 15 percent and scheduled to increase to 20 percent in 2011. Estates worth $25 million or more would be taxed at twice capital gains, currently 30 percent and increasing to 40 percent.
Let's do the math... In 2011, a couple leaves an estate valued at $25 million. With the exemption of $10 million, that couple's heirs will wind up paying $6 million in estate taxes (40% of the remaining $15 million). That would, in all likelihood, mean selling off a good portion of the estate to raise the cash to pay the taxes. So, the heirs will not only have been taxed a huge amount, but will have lost a sizeable portion of their inheritance, just to pay taxes for inheriting it.
Someone please explain to me where it is just or fair to tax personal property being passed from parents to children. You work hard all your life to build something, then you can't pass it on to your flesh and blood without the government getting a cut. Somehow, I don't believe the founding fathers envisioned the goverment they created stooping to such lows. Our leaders should be ashamed.
When this most onerous tax could have been eliminated, it's instead been given new life. Now it will be an unfair burden on the more wealthy. Lord knows, the evil wealthy deserve to be taxed. Building companies, creating jobs for people, supporting charities and universities... evil rich people.
Posted by Michael at 8:17 AM
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Funny, I keep hearing about how Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. But here are two congressmen quoting declassified reports that we've found hundreds of weapons munitions containing mustard and sarin nerve gas. While this isn't the product of an ongoing weapons program from the 90's, it does show that Saddam lied about disposing of WMDs and it shows that UN weapons inspectors were not capable of finding the weapons Saddam was hiding.
Posted by Michael at 8:28 PM
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Here are a couple of interesting pages I've stumbled across recently.
Nuclear Explosion Database - with the location, time and size of explosions around the world since 1945.
Disney Lies - Your source for lies, distortions, untruths, half truths, urban legends, rumors, and just plain made-up stuff about Walt Disney, Disneyland Resort, and Disney films
Posted by Michael at 3:56 PM
Monday, June 19, 2006
My wife and I recovered our dining room chairs recently. I bought the foam padding from a fabric store near the house. The price for the foam had risen in the week since I called and was given a price quote. I asked the saleswoman about the price increase. Apparently, the foam is made from some petroleum-based product, and petroleum prices affect foam prices. She then went on a two-minute rant about the "obscene profits" the oil companies are making. I smiled the entire time, and even nodded a bit. When she was done (or out of breath), I asked her a question.
"Do you have a retirement plan, like a 401-K or IRA?"
"401-K," she replied.
"Remember," I told her, still smiling, "that millions of people with retirement plans are invested in index funds, like the S&P 500. These funds invest in companies like Shell and Exxon, and high profits for those companies mean a better return for the investors. That's a good thing for people like you and me. Also, those profits fund the research and development of new, more cost-efficient ways to produce energy. And they allow for pay raises for middle and low-level employees of the companies. Those profits don't just go into the pockets of the CEO."
This woman looked at me like I had two heads. I don't know if she'd never thought about things that way, or if she couldn't believe I defended them. I thought she might begin to scream if I said anything else. I just smiled, took the foam, and told her to have a great day.
There's such a lack of knowledge among Americans about how the free market works. So many people see the word "profit" as something evil.
I saw part of NBC's Meet The Press yesterday, with the CEO's from three of the largest oil companies (ConocoPhillips, Chevron and Shell) explaining the reasons for current fuel prices and defending their apparently enormous profits. They explained that prices have risen (as any student of economics should know) because of increased demand and decreased supply. Refining capacity dropped because of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. There are tremendous amounts of oil waiting to be claimed in ANWAR and off-shore along the Pacific and Gulf coasts, but environmentalists and politicians are keeping that oil off limits.
So many Americans don't understand or appreciate how much better we have things than people in other parts of the world. Gas prices in Europe are more than double what we're paying here.
Extremely high profits have made the oil companies targets. How dare these companies rack up huge profits while charging such high prices at the pumps? Well, better they make profits than flirt with bankruptcy.
Posted by Michael at 8:56 AM
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Yeah, I know it's been two months. What can I say? Things have been busy. In the last two months we've had two funerals, a party for a friend's son's first birthday, busy times at work, a health scare in my wife's family (which turned out okay), a trip out of town, tons of yard work and house work, an out of town work weekend, remodeled our guest bathroom, and two family get-togethers at the house. It's been hectic.
Oh, and to squelch any rumors or misunderstandings, there are no little rugrats in our immediate future. None. As my lovely wife would say, "We haven't even been married a year yet." That's next Sunday.
Posted by Michael at 9:23 PM
Thursday, April 13, 2006
This bit out lunacy brought to us by Ohio State University...
Scott Savage, a reference librarian for the university, suggested four best-selling conservative books for freshman reading in his role as a member of OSU Mansfield's First Year Reading Experience Committee. The four books he suggested were:
The Marketing of Evil by David Kupelian,
The Professors by David Horowitz,
Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis by Bat Ye'or,
and It Takes a Family by U.S. Senator Rick Santorum.
Savage made the recommendations after other committee members had suggested a series of books with a left-wing perspective, by authors such as Jimmy Carter and Maria Shriver.
The school's response for his suggestion: Savage was put under "investigation" by OSU's Office of Human Resources after three professors filed a complaint of discrimination and sexual harassment against him, saying that the book suggestions made them feel "unsafe." Absolutely unbelievable.
Posted by Michael at 9:09 AM
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Friday, April 07, 2006
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
What's REALLY going on in Iraq? Here's a fantastic new site featuring stories of what's actually happening, stories straight from these folks who have boots on the ground, and who the public has a large degree of trust in. They are military members serving in Iraq, their former comrades in arms, and their friends and families. Get the truth straight from the people who actually know.
Posted by Michael at 3:16 PM
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Shannon and I were out of town for a few days recently, visiting one of my two home towns. Most of my childhood was spent in LaGrange, but during the early formitive years my family lived outside Greenville, South Carolina in the town of Mauldin. It's been nearly 30 years since we moved, and while I've passed through several times, this was my first time going back and searching out all the things I had memories of. It was a fantastic trip, and my lovely wife made a wonderful sidekick.
But I learned something interesting on this trip, and I suppose it applies to all of us. Over the years following the move back to Georgia, my memories of South Carolina grew into something almost mythical. Everything seemed big and special, whether it was my childhood home or elementary school playground or just the road into town. I was amazed seeing all that had changed. Greenville is a beautiful, vibrant city, and the downtown area is bustling with people. It even seemed to make a very good impression on Shannon, who sees everything in comparison to the other love in her life - Atlanta.
But a lot of the places and things I remember were still around. Obviously they were older (we moved in 1978). The interesting thing to me, though, was how much smaller everything seemed. When we're children, everything seems larger. We are always looking up, at people or counters or doorknobs. I never understood, until this trip, that all my memories are from the perspective of a young child looking up at the world. All that I remember of Greenville and Mauldin, I remember from about three feet tall. I'd never thought about how that perspective affects our view on things.
Our old house looks great, but it's much smaller than I recalled. I always thought our street was longer, and I remembered living further from my school. So much that I remembered seemed larger in my mind than it did sitting before me.
I could have easily been disappointed that what we were seeing didn't match up to my recollections, but something very different happened. Instead of tarnishing my memories, it actually added another layer of reality to them. They were placed in a new, more accurate context. The pictures in my mind had been broad, sweeping, meaningful images. But they were black and white, soft. The trip back gave them color and contrast, sharpness, relevance. Now they have life.
If anything, my memories are now more meaningful.
Posted by Michael at 2:58 PM
Saturday, April 01, 2006
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Apple posts what must be a couple of hundred movie trailers as part of their Quicktime page. Pretty much everything that's showing now or that's coming up in the next few months can be previewed here.
Clay Jackson is chief photographer for the Danville, Kentucky's Advocate-Messenger, and this is his photo blog. Really great photojournalism.
Live streaming camera views of Canada's Confederation Bridge, which (at 8 miles in length) is the longest bridge over waters that freeze in the world. When there's ice beneath the bridge, the video is exceptional.
News Of The Weird - Proof that true stories are weirder than made-up stories.
The Official Rules for Calling Shotgun in a vehicle.
Posted by Michael at 2:23 PM
Monday, March 20, 2006
Former presidential advisor and actor Ben Stein noticed that during the recent Academy Awards there wasn't a single word of support for our troops serving in harm's way. There was also no remembrance of those who have been killed fighting for freedom around the world. Seems pretty typical of the elite, smarter-than-everyone-else Hollywood celebs.
Stein also noted howe so many in Hollywood seem concerned about falling box-office revenue. "Stop spitting in the face of Americans and maybe we will go to the movies," he said. Fantastic!
Posted by Michael at 2:14 PM
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Here's a fantastic report on how the media's reports on Iraq bear no resemblance to the reality of those there. One great quote from a soldier stationed in Baghdad...
"The only people who seem to have lost both their grip on reality and their nerve are the western media".Thank heaven for other sources of news and information in this world besides the mainstream media.
Posted by Michael at 7:23 PM
Monday, March 13, 2006
A 2,000+ acre tract of land between LaGrange and West Point will be home to Kia Motors' first U.S. production plant. It will also be the first foreign auto company to choose Georgia for a manufacturing facility. According to my parents, people in my hometown are ecstatic. This will be an economic boon to the city and the region.
Posted by Michael at 8:58 AM
Friday, March 10, 2006
Chicago Public Schools require blind students to pass the drivers' education written exam in order to graduate. To quote one blind student, having to take the course "brought me down, because it reminds me of something I can't do." Common sense should lead to an appropriate alternative for disabled students who will never be able to operate a motor vehicle. Or just make the drivers ed course an elective.
Posted by Michael at 3:25 PM
One of the hot new fads among middle and high school kids now is called "grillz" - gold, platinum or silver tooth coverings that are custom-made to slip over the teeth. As one teenager puts it, "The rappers, when they started wearing them, we started wearing them. And the first thing girls look at is your mouth." Modeling your life based on rappers. Great. What wonderful role models
I guess Richard Kiel from the James Bond movies would be a hit today with his Grillz!
Posted by Michael at 8:50 AM
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
A retired schoolteacher and his wife in Rhode Island decided to pay off their MasterCard, which had a balance over $6,000. The credit card company alerted Homeland Security, because... paying off your full balance apparently is seen as a threat?!?
Posted by Michael at 8:52 AM
Monday, March 06, 2006
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
John Hawkins at Right Wing News has posted this list, compiled from reader suggestions. What do you all think?
The 25 Worst Moments In American History
1804: Aaron Burr kills one of the greatest figures in American history, Alexander Hamilton, in a duel.
1814: British forces burn down the White House during the War of 1812.
1838: The Trail of Tears. 4000 Cherokees die during a forced relocation to the West.
1857: The Dred Scott Decision. The Supreme Court essentially rules that black people are nothing more than property like a chair or couch.
1861: The bombardment of Fort Sumter was the beginning engagement of the Civil War.
1862: The battle of Antietam was the single bloodiest day in American history with 25,000 soldiers killed, wounded, or missing.
1865: Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. One of our greatest Presidents, if not our greatest President, was murdered soon after the beginning of his second term.
1900: A hurricane strikes Galveston, Texas killing 6000 in the worst disaster in American history.
1917: The Zimmerman Telegraph. Germany's Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann sends a telegram to Mexico encouraging them to attack the United States. The British intercepted the telegram and sent it to the United States where it led to America's entry into WW1.
1918: The influenza pandemic begins at Fort Riley, Kansas. By the time it was over, 25% of the US population would become sick and by some estimates, well over half a million Americans died as result.
1929: A massive drop in value of the stock market helped trigger the Great Depression which lasted until the increased economic activity spurred by WW2 got us going back in the right direction.
1941: Pearl Harbor. "A date which will live in infamy" indeed.
1942: The US government came to the conclusion that interning Japanese-American citizens was the best of a number of bad options. Roughly a hundred thousand Japanese-Americans ended up in camps.
1949: The Soviet Union tests an atomic bomb. For the next 50 years, Americans fear the Cold War will end in a nuclear holocaust.
1950: As American and Rok forces appear poised to finish off the Norks and reunite Korea, a Chinese offensive caught them completely by surprise and drove them back, nearly into the sea before they regrouped, pushed back, and managed to fight them to a stalemate.
1961: The Bay of Pigs invasion. Kennedy's decision to go forward with the invasion and then deny them air support doomed the entire enterprise to failure. Today, 44 years later, Fidel Castro, a diehard enemy of the United States, is still in power.
1963: In an event that scarred the American psyche and produced countless conspiracy theories, John F. Kennedy is assassinated.
1968: The Tet Offensive was a crushing defeat for North Vietnamese forces but was incorrectly portrayed as a huge victory for them by the American media. This was a key event in destroying the American public's support for the war.
1968: America's greatest civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, is assassinated.
1973: The Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision leads to the legalization of abortion nation wide and the deaths of countless millions of innocent children.
1974: Richard Nixon resigns after being disgraced by Watergate, a scandal which shook American faith in the government.
1975: After the Democrats in Congress cut off aid and promised air support, South Vietnam was doomed. When Saigon actually fell, that symbolized what a disaster the Vietnam War turned out to be.
1977: Jimmy Carter hands over control of the Panama Canal to Panama mainly because they asked for it.
1995: Oklahoma City Bombing. 168 people die as the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building is destroyed by domestic terrorists.
2001: 9/11. Terrorist madmen attack the Twin Towers and Pentagon, kill nearly 3000 Americans, and set off a war on terrorism.
Posted by Michael at 3:08 PM
Thursday, February 23, 2006
This is a week or two old, but in case you missed it...
A student at the University of Washington proposed an on-campus monument honoring one of UW's more famous alums - WWII Marine pilot Greg "Pappy" Boyington. The idea received unusually harsh criticism from the more liberal members of the student senate, who voted to deny the proposal. It wasn't so much the vote as the comments in opposition to the idea that have inflamed people across the country.
Student senator Jill Edwards, according to minutes of the student government's meeting, said she "didn't believe a member of the Marine Corps was an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce." Ashley Miller, another senator, argued "many monuments at UW already commemorate rich white men." Talk radio and Internet blogs ran rampant with these comments, and I'm not going to go down that path. Instead, I wanted to point out some of the other legislation that has been considered by the University of Washington Student Senate...
An Act In Support Of The Flag Salute - Simply supported the Pledge of Allegiance. This was defeated.
A Resolution in Support of National Coming Out Day - Speaks for itself. Passed, naturally.
Supporting the United States Government in its Actions To Fight Terrorism - Again, self-explanatory. And of course, it failed. A similar resolution the next year was never acted on.
A Resolution of Student Unity - To stand united against terrorism. Guess what... failed.
A Resolution In Support of American Service Members - Claim to support the troops without supporting their mission. Passed.
A Resolution in Support of the Use of Diplomacy, Peaceful Mediation, and Consideration for the Interests of the International Community in order to Resolve International Conflict - Tabled.
Resolution Supporting the Protection of Squirrels on the UW Campus - "...formally support inter-animal cooperation of the squirrel population with students." Never acted on.
A Resolution to Support Transgender Rights - Passed.
Resolution Supporting The National Alcohol Consumption Age To Be Decreased - Think most college kids would support that one. But it failed.
A Resolution In Support Of Cake - "WHEREAS, it is important that the members of the Student Senate enjoy the sweet taste of cake..." No kidding. An identical proposal came up again a month later, and again two years later.
A Resolution Calling On Police To Reduce Arms - Apparently the UW Police Department decided to purchase some AR-15 assault rifles in case of emergency situations. This act apparently failed.
A Resolution in Support of a Ban of Partial Birth Abortions - You knew this would fail. And it did.
A Resolution Supporting the Right of Gay and Bisexual Men to Donate Blood - Resolved.
Resolution in Support of Student Rose Bowl Attendance - Prevented teachers and departmetns from punishing students for missing class the day after the 2001 Rose Bowl. Passed.
A Resolution To Increase Student Input In To UWPD Decision Making - Students wanted more input in the decision making, particularly concernign firearms, of the University Police. Passed.
A Resolution Affirming The Right Of The Workers At University Bookstore To Organize - Because campus book stores can be such sweatshops. Passed.
A Resolution to Put Away Violently Malicious Criminals - Failed. Can't do anything to punish those baddies.
A Resolution in Support of the State of Israel - No action taken.
Resolution in support of the troops of the U.S. Armed Forces - No action.
Resolution Advocating for the creation of Resources for Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian and Transgender Students, Staff and Faculty - No way this one would not pass.
Resolution in Support of the Equal Application of the Law - To allow individuals with concealed weapon licenses to carry their weapons on campus, but asking them not to. Failed.
Resolution in Support of the Right of Military Recruiters to be Present on Campus - Failed.
Resolution in Support of a University of Washington Nap Room - ??? Passed.
A Resolution Calling For Jill Edwards to Apologize For Her Comments - Don't hold your breath. It's been tabled indefinitely.
Posted by Michael at 3:17 PM
Monday, February 20, 2006
Has it been almost three weeks? Sorry. Things are a bit nutty, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It sure makes life interesting. For some reason, my mind has gotten focused on genealogy of late, and I've spent far too much time pursuing the past. At least it's a worthwhile venture...
Posted by Michael at 3:14 PM
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Well, it looks like my posts are going to be a bit fewer and farther between for a while. There's a lot going on (most all of it good), so my time is having to be portioned up more than before. When I started this blog two years ago, I hoped to provide something here every day. Five hundred entires in two years is pretty good, I guess. My goal for the near future is going to be to post as much as I can, and hope that works out to at least twice a week. If all goes well with some of these new, more time-consuming activities, maybe I'll write about them here also. We'll see...
Posted by Michael at 2:06 PM
Monday, January 23, 2006
As we watch Iran attempt to build up their nuclear program, against the wishes of pretty much the whole world, it's worth noting that they could have had help from an interesting source. During his first debate with President Bush on September 30, 2004, John Kerry advocated giving Iran the nuclear fuel they wanted.
I think the United States should have offered the opportunity to provide the nuclear fuel, test them, see whether or not they were actually looking for it for peaceful purposes. If they weren't willing to work a deal, then we could have put sanctions together.Yeah, let's give them the makings of the most dangerous weapon on Earth. They want to wipe Israel off the map, and they have pledged to destroy the U.S. So, we give them the key component for making nuclear weapons. What a great idea, huh?
Posted by Michael at 10:48 AM
Friday, January 20, 2006
I'm no fan of Jack Abramoff, and definitely don't condone the actions he's claiming to have done, but I thought George Clooney's comments during the Golden Globe Awards were despicable. His father thought so also...
Posted by Michael at 9:17 AM
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Saturday, January 14, 2006
I just returned from a work-related convention in Nashville, where I stayed at the Opryland Hotel and Convention Center. I'm not sure if it's the largest hotel and convention center complex in the U.S., but it's the largest I've ever been in. It's home to some great restaurants, with truly pricey food. Thank heavens for expense accounts!
Posted by Michael at 10:02 AM
Friday, January 06, 2006
With so many people in this country (in this world, really) turning away from religion, or rejecting it altogether, it's disconcerting to see two clowns like this making news...
First, a Tulsa, Oklahoma pastor and executive committee member of the Southern Baptist Convention was arrested for propositioning a male undercover police officer for sex. He claims he was in the parking lot at an Oklahoma City hotel "ministering" to the police, and he was "set up." Yeah, right...
Next, comes televangelist and perennial nutcase Pat Robertson. He suggested Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine retribution for the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, and for "dividing God's land."
I'm not getting into any type of discussion of Christianity, or religion in general. But I will say that Christianity needs better press than what these folks are bringing it.
Posted by Michael at 8:55 AM
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
The NEA, America's largest teachers union, fought hard to keep from having to disclose where they spend their money. Sorry, the teachers' dues money. Well, the NEA lost. Now their spending is a matter of public record, and it's certainly interesting. The Wall Street Journal provides an eye-opening breakdown of where some of the money is going.
Posted by Michael at 1:19 PM
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Hope you all had a fantastic Christmas (or whatever holiday you choose to celebrate) and a great beginning to 2006. We're creeping up on the second birthday of this blog, and I want to thank those of you who regularly check in here. Traffic has increased during the past year, and I'm hoping to see more this year. I'm also hoping for more regular posting now that the holiday season has passed.
Posted by Michael at 2:58 PM