Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Gonna Be Gone A While

I'm probably going to be away at least through the weekend. Dad is having more surgery tomorrow morning, so I'll be spending the next few days at Emory. I'll try to post a condition update, if possible.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Just An Idiot

Former NBA star Tim Hardaway said during a radio interview yesterday...

"You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I'm homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."

Yet another example of a big dumb jock. Anyone with the sense to walk upright should know not to express such views in a public forum. Especially if they're famous. You might actually feel that way, but you certainly don't vocalize it. Nothing good is ever going to come from it. Besides, it's just bigoted to hate someone because they're gay.

As Christians we're taught not to hate the sinner, but to hate the sin.

To put it another way... Don't hate the player, hate the game.

Tattle-tale Congressman

Staff members for Minnesota Democrat Rep. Keith Ellison reported to Capitol Police that Colorado Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo was smoking a cigar inside his congressional office. Only two problems... First, seems awful childish on the part of Ellison's staffer. Not the kind of publicity the first-term representative needs. Secondly, there's no rule against smoking in one's office. Oops!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Atlanta Wi-Fi

The story is a couple of weeks old, but I just ran across it. Looks like Earthlink is working to provide Wi-Fi coverage to Atlanta, for what looks to be about $18 per month. Not too shabby...

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Year of the Pig

2007 is the Chinese Year of the Pig. To celebrate, here's a look at the Top 35 Porkers of Pop Culture History, courtesy of retrocrush.com.

New Dollar Coins

The U.S. Mint will be releasing new Presidential Dollar coins starting this year. Like the State Quarters program, four new versions will be released each year.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Somebody Splain This Please

I'd sure like to know exactly who decides which artists and albums are nominated for Grammy awards in the Country Music category. Watching tonight's award program, I'm convinced Country needs to be dropped entirely from the Grammys. Compare the list of nominees and winners to the CMA Awards list. Three hours of music, and Country was relegated to one segment. Of course, Rock - real Rock - wasn't treated much better (The Red Hot Chili Peppers didn't get to perform until after 11pm), but that's another issue.

According to the recording industry, five of the top ten selling artists in all music during 2006 were Country artists: Rascal Flatts (No. 1); Johnny Cash (No. 2); Carrie Underwood (No. 4); Tim McGraw (No. 6); and Keith Urban (No. 9). To their credit, the Grammys did have the top two living Country acts of 2006 on this program. Still...

For the most part, the Dixie Chicks aren't played on Country radio anymore, and I believe they've pretty much renounced the format. No problem there, except the Grammy folks seem to want the Chicks to represent Country. Making a statement??? The Chicks winning two Country Grammys was a slap in the face to Country radio and fans.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Zero Tolerance... Zero Sense

Casey Harmeier, a 10-year-old student in Houston, Texas suburb of Tomball, was in line with classmates and a teacher was nearby when he accidentally brushed a clear plastic cover over a fire alarm. Seeing the cover was ajar, another boy dared him to pull the cover off. Casey removed the cover, triggering a very loud horn. A few hours later, police arrested the boy and he was charged with a felony for the false fire alarm. This is where the story gets interesting.

It was determined that the child did not trigger the fire alarm. The horn that had sounded simply warned that the cover was off the alarm's pull switch. The fire alarm itself was tripped later, by a school secretary trying to silence the horn. Unfortunately for the student, this determination came 51 days after his arrest. The only reason it even came to light - the boy's father is a teacher at another local school and knows how the system works. He found the mistake, but it took weeks to get the system's assistant superintendent to admit it. But no apologies from the school system. Casey still faces charges, although they have been reduced to a misdemeanor. The jury trial is set for May 15th.

Casey had been a good student, making A's and B's, and was well liked by his teachers. He'd never been in any trouble. Since his arrest, he's been put through a session where, without his parents present, he was asked whether they abused him, sexually or otherwise. From the Houston Chronicle report...

After that session he wrote a brief journal item: "I feel like a dieses. Like all I am is a viol monster of a person well at least thats wat I think. I'm always scared every time I leave my parents sight and the questions I had to answer were scary and asked if I had ever been high, drunk, or raped and it scared me."

I don't know how the school system officials (who refuse to drop charges against Casey) and the county prosecutor can sleep at night. The harm they are doing to this child in incalculable. Sure, he made a bad choice. But he is being punished for something he didn't so, something the school secretary did. In-school suspension would have been an appropriate punishment. But arrest and trial? Unbelievable. Sickening...

U.S. / U.K. Relations

I stumbled across this on 18 Doughty Street, a British political site. An interesting argument that Britain's national interests are best served by remaining closely alligned to the U.S.

America Is Our Friend

1 Friendly Fire Incident
The accidental killing of Lance Corporal Matty Hull by US pilots in Iraq has once again put our relationship with the United States under scrutiny. It is understandable that in the midst of intense fighting, one does not have the time to think carefully about what they are doing and in such circumstances mistakes could be made. The US on its part was wrong for refusing to release the audio tapes of the pilots’ conversations during the friendly fire incident. However we must not join the regular band of America haters but instead remind ourselves that despite these mistakes, our relationship with America is important.

2 America Guarantees our security
America which is the world’s pre-eminent military power is a key member of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO). The aim of NATO is to ensure the collective security of its members. Article 5 of the treaty states that an attack on any member state will be treated as an attack on all member states. Thus, Britain which is also a member of NATO is assured that it will be adequately defended if it faces external threats. Further Britain and America have an agreement which ensures that the all American intelligence information is shared with their British colleagues. All these benefits would be put at risk if we chose to part ways with the United States.

3 America supports our economy
Britain’s role as an economic power is dependent on its ability to trade freely with other countries. Such trade can only take place if trade routes are secure. The United States has warships strategically located in the Gulf of Guinea . Her military presence prevents hostile countries or groups from blocking the trade routes and thus hampering trade. Britain directly benefits from this because British oil companies like Shell have off shore drilling wells in these regions and thus take advantage of the secure supply routes when transporting the oil from the wells to the international markets. It is important to note that France which is often critical of the United States also benefits from the presence of her warships.

4 The United States ensures world stability
One of the main concerns after the Second World War was how to ensure that countries such as Japan never re-armed and threatened other countries. At the same time Japan was concerned that if she did not rearm, she could be a victim of external aggression. The United States solved this problem by guaranteeing Japan’s Security. This was achieved by establishing large military bases in Japan. This arrangement has proved useful in preventing a nuclear arms race in Asia. For example, when North Korea later tested a nuclear device Japan considered developing nuclear weapons in response. However it decided against it because of America’s security umbrella, which guaranteed its protection from a nuclear attack.

5 The United States' support is essential in promoting global social justice
The developing world is plagued by diseases such as malaria and Aids. It also lacks the capacity to deal with global disasters such as earthquakes and tsunami’s. If Britain intends to help alleviate the plight of the developing world, it needs a powerful partner like America which can provides funds and logistic support to achieve these aims. America has proved useful in this regard with its donation of $15 billion towards aids treatment programmes in Africa. This makes her the world’s largest donor. America was also the largest donor of aid to Pakistan when it experienced an earth quake in 2005 and its provision of helicopters helped aid workers reach the mountainous regions of Pakistan. These acts of kindness show that America is a country that cares about human suffering and as such if Britain cares for social justice, it must align itself with America.

It's nice to hear a bit of appreciation from someone in the international community. The scales are still a bit out of balance, considering all the positives this nation has brought to the world the last 200 or so years.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Reconnect America

The Military Channel and Military.com have joined forces to create "Reconnect America," a nationwide program that makes it easy for you to show your support for the men and women of our Armed Forces. I've added banners and links on the right side, and I encourage everyone to give them a look.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Coulter: MSNBC Creating "Liberal History"

Ann Coulter delves into MSNBC's reporting on the trial of Scooter Libby, and how the network is rewriting history to suit their bias.

Panic In Boston

John Stossel calls out officials in Boston for their handling of the Cartoon Network promotional light screens "discovered" around Boston last week. Among his comments:

... the signs were installed three weeks earlier in nine other cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Authorities there didn't freak out. The Associated Press reported, "There were no immediate signs of anyone panicking . . . removal of the signs was low-key. . . "

Only in Boston was there panic.

Mayor Menino said more than $500,000 was spent to send dozens of federal, state, and city bomb and terrorism experts to investigate. But he blamed the young men, not himself.

Friday, February 02, 2007

See The Beast For What She Is

In this clip form a speech broadcast on C-Span, presidential candidate (eek!) Hillary Clinton discusses her desire to strip the oil production companies of their profits. She says she wants to take those profits and put them into "strategic energy fund" to fund research and technologies to move the U.S. toward energy independence.

Like the little Socialist she is, she feels it's perfectly fine for the government to confiscate the profits of a private company and redistribute them as the government sees fit. The anit-capitalist wing of the Democratic Party seems to see corporate profits as immoral. Hillary calls for the confiscation of oil company profits. That wouldn't be the first time such an approach was tried:

In 1980, President Carter signed into law the Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax Act, enacted in concert with the gradual dismantling of domestic oil price controls that were in effect throughout the 1970s. The law, which was repealed in the late 1980s, established excise taxes as high as 70 percent on the difference between the selling price and a price set by law.

Economic theory suggests that such a measure would discourage exploration. Drilling for oil is very risky, and investors will take that risk only if they believe there is some chance they will make great profits. Take away the profits, and drilling will stop...

In 1990, the U.S. Congressional Research Service studied the effects of the 1980s tax, and found that it had exactly the predicted effect. U.S. production was reduced, and reliance on foreign oil increased sharply. Reinstating the tax would, Congress's research agency concluded, "make the U.S. more dependent upon foreign oil."

The way the tax worked was simple. The government set a mandated price-per-barrel on oil. Anytime the cost went above that government limit, additional taxes were imposed. It failed miserably. The result was a financially depressed domestic oil industry, increased foreign imports and raised little revenue for the government. It also led, by 1990, to a 100% increase in foreign imports. Oh, and lots of people who had been making good salaries in the oil business were suddenly unemployeed.

Earlier price control efforts in the 1970s had the same effect. Domestic production dropped significantly. That lost production, coupled with increasing demand, led to an increase of about 13.5% in world crude prices. And more hard-working Americans were laid off.

Oh, and did you know???

Since 1977, more than twice as much money has been collected by governments in gasoline tax revenues than the oil companies have made in profits?