Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Inexplicable Freeway Blogging

Do you ever have the feeling that you're missing some detail that would give meaning to everything? I had that feeling several times on the way from La Jolla to San Diego...

Um, WTF? Should I know what this means???

Right, because we all associate BMW with carnivorous dinosaurs...

Yes... "Cubic"... Of course...

It's all so clear to me now.

Monday, August 29, 2005

We Are All Grandma Millie Now.

Yeah, yeah, great. I wonder how much I can get for it...

What kind of venal, soulless worm can look at the natural beauty of a Yellowstone or a Yosemite and see only dollar signs? Why, a Bush appointee, of course.
Most of us think of America's national parks as everlasting places, parts of the bedrock of how we know our own country. But they are shaped and protected by an underlying body of legislation, which is distilled into a basic policy document that governs their operation. Over time, that document has slowly evolved, but it has always stayed true to the fundamental principle of leaving the parks unimpaired for future generations. That has meant, in part, sacrificing some of the ways we might use the parks today in order to protect them for tomorrow.

Recently, a secret draft revision of the national park system's basic management policy document has been circulating within the Interior Department. It was prepared, without consultation within the National Park Service, by Paul Hoffman, a deputy assistant secretary at Interior who once ran the Chamber of Commerce in Cody, Wyo., was a Congressional aide to Dick Cheney and has no park service experience.

Within national park circles, this rewrite of park rules has been met with profound dismay, for it essentially undermines the protected status of the national parks. The document makes it perfectly clear that this rewrite was not prompted by a compelling change in the park system's circumstances. It was prompted by a change in political circumstances - the opportunity to craft a vision of the national parks that suits the Bush administration.


Mr. Hoffman's rewrite would open up nearly every park in the nation to off-road vehicles, snowmobiles and Jet Skis. According to his revision, the use of such vehicles would become one of the parks' purposes. To accommodate such activities, he redefines impairment to mean an irreversible impact. To prove that an activity is impairing the parks, under Mr. Hoffman's rules, you would have to prove that it is doing so irreversibly - a very high standard of proof. This would have a genuinely erosive effect on the standards used to protect the national parks.

The pattern prevails throughout this 194-page document - easing the rules that limit how visitors use the parks and toughening the standard of proof needed to block those uses.


There are other issues too. Mr. Hoffman would explicitly allow the sale of religious merchandise, and he removes from the policy document any reference to evolution or evolutionary processes. He does everything possible to strip away a scientific basis for park management. His rules would essentially require park superintendents to subordinate the management of their parks to local and state agendas. He also envisions a much wider range of commercial activity within the parks.

In short, this is not a policy for protecting the parks. It is a policy for destroying them.

This is yet another revolting example of the Bush Republican mindset, wherein all public resources exist solely as potential plunder for the Republicans and their corporate cronies. See also: the public airwaves, Social Security, the tax code, and the defense budget. They are like selfish infants with absolutely no thought for the long term, no thought for the public good, no consideration that there are values beyond money (well, okay, they do have homophobia, I'll give 'em that). Laws, regulations, and the Constitution itself are merely inconvenient obstacles between them and more sweet, sweet profit.

America has turned into the rich, oblivious widow whose husband always took care of the finances, and the Republicans are the sleazy lawyer robbing her blind because she's too far gone to notice or care. Perhaps we Democrats are like the concerned relatives she won't listen to because she thinks we're the ones trying to take her money. Oh, the irony.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Sunday Softball Blogging

WOOHOO!!! Finally, I hit one out! With at least 2-3 games to spare. Praise Jebus for juiced-up fancy bats. First at-bat was a high fly ball to center that just kept carrying and carrying. It just kind of got exponentially worse from there, though. Next at-bat was a double, followed by a single, followed by a hard-hit out, followed by two lame routine outs. When all was said and done, 3-for-6 with a home run, a double, 3 runs, and 3 RBIs. Fairly solid in the field, my outfield mojo appears undiminished by the 2-week layoff. Oh, and we lost. By something in the vicinity of 3-5 runs, but who's counting?

Current Stats: 25 games, .572 BA (103-180), 18 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR*, 58 runs, 38 RBI.

*Home runs over the fence are counted as doubles in the Sunday game, 'cuz the fence is so short that people other than me hit them out all the time...

Heed!!! Move!!!

The shortstop clearly knows more than he's saying.

Why Home Runs Suck. Posted by Picasa

Sunday Cat 5 Blogging

Just a quick post about Hurricane Katrina. My fervent hope is that the hurricane will be radically diminished by the powerful counterforce swirling around it, one of the most awesomely retardant forces in the universe: I speak, of course, of Hype. I firmly believe that it was Hype that dimmed Comet Kohoutek, emptied Capone's vault, thwarted the electronic devastation of Y2K, and caused 90% of Superbowls to totally suck. Hype may even be the mysterious "dark matter" that will eventually halt the universe's expansion.

But if even the power of Hype is helpless to subdue this beast, then it is going to be Bad. Very, Very Bad - homes and buildings flattened, animals killed, thousands or tens of thousands of deaths. There is a political dimension to the badness, in that global warming may be partially responsible for the storm's power; in that National Guard resources have been sucked away to Iraq because we don't have enough regular troops; in that FEMA resources have been cut and evacuation plans sloughed off; in that massive resources have not been mobilized to get people the fuck out of there. And heaven help the poor people who are huddled together in the Superdome as it creaks and groans and floods, hoping and praying that it doesn't cave in or become a watery tomb.

But above and beyond the political aspect, the simple fact is that regardless of what we do to avert or escape it, Nature is still powerful, and Nature still kills. And Nature has a way of reminding us of that fact, hoping to snap us out of our complacent hubris. Of course, it never works, at least not for more than a few days or a few weeks, but Nature keeps trying.

I'll just conclude with an atheist/agnostic prayer for the Orleansians' safety, and a couple of donation links:

Red Cross

Noah's Wish (disaster-abandoned pet rescue)

Catch-Up Literary Blogging

I'm trying to ease back into blogging gradually after the long vacation, so I'm going to try to get a little caught up on my book reports while I wait for my political muse to inspire me.

I believe the book that would be next up would be Ilium, by Dan Simmons. I've read some other stuff by Simmons, the Hyperions and Endymions and whatnot, and my impression was that he created a fascinating and compelling universe, but his prose was kind of jarringly clunky. Either he fixed that in Ilium, or I've just gotten used to it. Anyway.

There are three subplots, which gradually orbit into each other as the book progresses.

Subplot 1: The Greek gods (who are apparently some kind of high-tech "post-humans") have somehow resurrected a bunch of modern historians and sent them back into time to chronicle the siege of Troy, and confirm that everything is unfolding just as described in the Iliad. Apparently only Zeus actually knows how it turns out. One of the historians gets recruited by one of the gods to do some dirty work, and is not so keen on the idea. The descriptions of the battles and the various characters are quite raw and intriguing.

Subplot 2: Humans of the future have become naive, pampered, and eloi-like (not Eli-like), or like the people in Logan's Run or The Island, except 100 is the magic age instead of 30, and instead of Carousel or "The Island", the belief is that you go up to Earth's rings (yes, Earth has artificial rings now) to live with the post-humans. Almost no-one can read words or maps, and there are no long-range vehicles, because everyone just "faxes" from one place to another. And if someone gets killed, they just get faxed back into existence from a backup copy. Anyway, a small band of humans go on a quest to try to reach Earth's rings, led by The Wandering Jew. No, really.

Subplot 3: The robots/cyborgs ("moravecs") who work the moons of Jupiter have become alarmed by the fact that the post-humans appear to have terraformed Mars with alarming rapidity, and there are little green men erecting millions and millions of Easter Island-style heads there. They launch a covert mission to Mars to check it out and see what the post-humans are up to. Orphu of Io, Proust enthusiast, is one of the participants (and for some reason, he sounds like an Eschaton commenter to me...).

I leave it up to you to figure out how all these might fit together, and will also tease you with a mention that some literary figures, and not necessarily all Greek ones, show up in some rather unexpected places. Unfortunately, it ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, so you (and I) need to read Olympos to see how it all turns out.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Bell Curve Question

For reasons that are a little unclear to me, the pseudoscientific racist tract The Bell Curve has resurfaced as a hot-button topic. I will admit to being only passingly familiar with it, much as I am only passingly familiar with Mein Kampf. Digby, by way of Atrios, provides an extremely alarming run-down of the horrors contained within, and Philalethes provides some even more disturbing background on the rich racist eugenics tradition behind Richard Lynn, who the authors are rilly big fans of.

But here is my question: How does the racist and social-darwinist segment of the Republican party reconcile its fondness for The Bell Curve's emphasis on the importance of IQ with their disdain and mistrust for liberal "intellectual elites"? If IQ is so all-fired important, shouldn't they be listening to everything "intellectuals" say with hushed reverence? And shouldn't they maybe not be worshipping a president who brags about being a C student?

I know, I know, if they can advocate Darwinism in the socioeconomic sphere and Intelligent Design in the scientific/educational sphere, then cognitive dissonance isn't really a problem for them. Hell, I think it might even be their power source.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Friday Quote Blogging

"All praise to my quick-release trousers!"

- Shooting Fish

And of course, there'll be other people's cats.

Es muy Mocha! Posted by Picasa

Caption Of The Day

"Kinship with On Your Knees Cave Man."

I shit you not.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Must... Crash... System Failure... Imminent...

Well, I've been travelling all night, and the guy in the seat next to me was kinda squirmy-thrashy, so I really need to crash hard. And when I wake up, I'll have about 1200 vacation photos to try to wade through. Eep.

In the meantime, here are some beauty cloud shots to tide y'all over and annoy my dad. Enjoy!

You can also check out the Viking Week Festivities, presented by the shadowy and mysterious Codename V.

UPDATE: Hmm... Recent evidence that has come to light suggests that it might not be my dad I would be annoying. But as long as I'm annoying somebody, I'm happy.

Mmm... Clouds...

Mmm... More clouds...Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Alrighty Then...

San Diego sure does have some, er, interesting foliage...

A tree outside the Fleet Science Center.

A cactus at Bazaar Del Mundo. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Birds And The Boats, Part II

Yes, that's right, I had more birdy & boaty goodness than can be contained by a single post!

God help us all.

All the gulls love me, as you can plainly see.

Back to the fact, it's a kayak and I know that. Posted by Picasa

The Birds And The Boats, Part I

Couldn't decide on birds vs. boats, so I split the difference and pass the savings along to you!

This is some sort of exotic California bird I have never encountered before. Aren't they exquisite?

Bald head... powerboat... You do the math.

Then please get back to me, because I have no idea what that means.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Not-Entirely-Successful-Random-Weirdness Blogging

Here are a couple of shots that admittedly didn't come out exactly the way I wanted, but I still kinda like 'em...

Mulling over whether to do birds or boats next...

Kinda blurry, probably because I had to rush it, but I still like it for some reason. The little dog is just so excited to be out and about.

"Nice tree, nice tree... Good boy! Yes, you're a good little tree, aren't you! Yes, you are! Oh, yes you are!"

Man, do I ever need to get out more...

Saturday, August 20, 2005

More Travelblogging

As you can see, I am continuing to enjoy the many picturesque sights of sunny and colorful La Jolla...

It really goes against my grain to have any blur at all in my photos, but I forced myself to allow it this one time. You know, for the children.

Car Door Handle. What more can I say, really?

*hangs head in shame*

Interim Travelblogging

I'm trying to resist the impulse to postpone posting pictures until after processing everything for the entire trip. I'm also trying to resist the impulse to start sentences with "Okay" or "Okay, so..."). Okay, so "Okay, so..." also starts with an Okay, but- oh, bugger.

I'll come in again.

*comes in again*

I'm in La Jolla! Here are photos!

(Okay, I think that went wel- Argh!)

I liked the continuity of the reflection, and the way the reflected sky complements the real sky.

Pelicans! I think. Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 19, 2005

Friday Quote Blogging

"You know why it's a brilliant manipulation of negative space?"
"No, why?"
"Because Jesus wants it that way."

An excellent summation of my photographic philosophy from The Dream Team, a strangely entertaining movie about a group of mental patients who wander off when they get taken on an excursion. I'm pretty sure Peter Boyle is the one who thinks he's Jesus. We also have Christopher Lloyd and Stephen Furst as the other two patients, and Michael Keaton as their doctor, who has quite a few issues of his own.

And, of course, there'll be other people's cats.

The shadowy and mysterious Codename F. will not be denied! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 18, 2005

You Will Be Pizzazzimilated.

Do not attempt to escape the Pizzazz.

Courtesy of the shadowy and mysterious Codename V.

Eli's Grand Day Out

Well, here I am once again in the Wireless Food Court, hoping I can post this before my battery plotzes (battery meter is curiously unhelpful). I took a bunch of pictures, mostly out of the bus window, on my way to the Waterfront shopping centre to pick up softball supplies for EschaCon. Mixed results, but there were a few successes.

I was especially hoping to catch a picture of this - it's like a little island with its own little walkway, like a medieval castle with a moat or something.

The things you see while waiting for the bus. Cue the Angelic Choir... Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I Sing The Vagina Electric...

I celebrate the me yet to come...

Well, the NY Daily News certainly was on a roll today, capped off with a most excellent compendium of Bizarre Sex Trivia (actually excerpted from "Why Do Men Have Nipples: Hundreds of Questions You'd Only Ask a Doctor After Your Third Martini" by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg, M.D.). F'rinstance:
"The Electrovaginogram: Study of the Vaginal Electric Activity and Its Role in the Sexual Act and Disorders." In this paper, the authors investigated the hypothesis that the vagina generates electric waves, which affect vaginal contraction during penile thrusting. They found electric waves could be recorded from the vagina. They also postulated that there was a vaginal pacemaker that seems to represent the G-spot, which is claimed to be a small area of erotic sensitivity in the vagina.
Also covered: Whether or not you can break your penis, what causes "shrinkage," kegel exercises, and female ejaculation.

It is also definitive proof of something I've been saying for a long time now: Anything containing the phrase "
So what is this vaginal Loch Ness Monster?" is worth reading.

This also seems like an appropriate, er, spot to disclose that my blog can apparently be found by searching for "
Kingpin hitting boobs Vanessa". I don't think I want to know why.

Geek Out! Le Geek, C'est Chic...

My time has come at last!!!
Good news, losers: It's cool to be uncool. With the upcoming releases of two new movies, "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "The Baxter," and the recent success of "Napoleon Dynamite," Hollywood has gleefully embraced dorkdom.


Throughout pop culture history, protagonists were required to have ripped abs or bulging biceps. Now in these films and TV shows like "Beauty and the Geek" they simply need a "Hello! My name is Myron" name tag. It seems that, more and more, the ladies love Geek Chic.

"Women find sex appeal in male geek movie characters," notes Gitesh Pandya, editor of "Geeks have charm in their awkwardness. The personality of a geek makes him sexy, partially because he can be pitied and partially because they are good-natured people."


"When people see these characters, they feel good about themselves," says Pandya. "If a geek can succeed, then there is hope. It gives the audience confidence."

"They're always putting their foot in their mouth," says Showalter. "There's something cringe-worthy about them that makes us laugh, but while we're laughing at them, we're also rooting for them."


"Superhero films are more about escapism," notes Pandya. "Films about geeks are about realism."

So is Geek Chic here to stay? "Who knows what's cool anymore?" says Carell. "It's not cool to be uncool, but it is also not cool to be cool. It's cool to be somewhere in between. There is this gray area that is most all of us."

I'm so uncool I'm almost cool again! That's so totally boss!!!

How ya like me now, suckas? Posted by Picasa

I Wonder How Much Rogaine I Would Need To Cover My Entire Body...

I'm not really sure I buy this, but it certainly sounds encouraging...
Forget waxed chests and rock-hard abs. A new survey finds ladies like their men scruffy, a wee bit chubby - and definitely not a metrosexual.

Playgirl asked 2,000 of its readers what they find sexy in a man and the answers were surprising: 42% said they thought love handles were kind of sexy and 47% approved of chest hair.


[O]nly 4% of women said the size of a man's wallet mattered. Metrosexuals are also out: 73% want a guy who is "rough around the edges."

"This survey shows that the guy who's most attractive to our readers is not your average Hollywood hunk," said Playgirl editrix Jill Sieracki. "It's the average Joe who came up on top. Women are practical about their choices, and they're smart."

Well, two outta three ain't bad...

Wingnuts Against Bush

I mainly read the New York Daily News for sports, but I do skim their online front page. Occasionally I'll notice a blurb for an op-ed column by Michael Goodwin, and it's almost always full of virulent right-wing bile that verges on parody. They have another columnist named Michael Daly who leans in the other direction, but I can never remember which Michael is which until I see their headshot or read some text.

Well, today I started reading a column by one of the Michaels, and the picture was loading slowly, and I was absolutely sure that it had to be the "good" Michael, since it was talking about how Cindy Sheehan was majorly harshing President Tough Guy's mellow. Much to my surprise, I was wrong. The wild-eyed right-wing columnist was the one saying:

Sheehan lost her son Casey in Iraq and now the President is paying the piper. He is a hostage to Sheehan's little band of protesters camped near his ranch in Crawford, Tex. This is not how the President wanted to spend his vacation. He has only himself to blame. Bush's decision to spend a full month in Texas was stunningly stupid. With Americans turning solidly against the war - a Newsweek poll reported a mere 34% now approve of his handling of Iraq - the President looks callous when the nation needs reassuring. And he could be losing his last bit of leverage over public opinion. Put it this way: no support, no war.

Now he's stuck in Texas with Sheehan. If he meets with her, as she demands, she wins. If he cuts his visit short and scurries back to Washington, she wins. If he stays, she also wins, as she did yesterday.


Bush can't win against a grieving, articulate, angry mother who's willing to spend August in a roadside ditch publicizing her cause. Each new casualty in Iraq adds to her power and subtracts from his.

There is a chance that Sheehan is just the media flavor of the month. But I wouldn't bet on it. This feels like a turning point. It's happened before.

He does take a bunch of cheap shots at the usual targets like Michael Moore and Howard Dean and the liberal anti-war media, but still. Whoa.

Rush Almost Gets It!

LIMBAUGH: I mean, Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real, including the mainstream media's glomming onto it. It's not real. It's nothing more than an attempt. It's the latest effort made by the coordinated left.
You're in the right ballpark grammatically, Rush. But Casey Sheehan's death wasn't a lie - it was for a lie. I really hope Cindy asks Rush just what exactly he meant by this.

Hat tip to four legs good in Eschaton comments for the quote!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Tough Dove

Okay, it's framing time again, and today I want to talk about war. Or more to the point, about the stereotypical portrayal of Democrats as knee-jerk, obstructionist anti-war wimps. So far, the primary Democratic critique of Operation Frequent Manhood*, er, Iraqi Freedom has been that the war was based on lies, has cost American lives, was poorly planned and incompetently executed, and hasn't made us safer from terrorism. All well and good, as far as it goes, but except for the very last point, I think it reinforces the right-wing claim that Democrats are soft on defense, and lack the stomach to confront America's enemies (because we just can't staaaaand the idea of breaking a few eggs to make our Denver Omelette Of Freedom). We need to fight back against that, hard, since the Republicans will undoubtedly use it against us every single election until we make them stop.

What the Democrats need to start saying is, "We're not opposed to going to war to make America safer. Most of us supported the invasion of Afghanistan, because it was the base of the terrorists who attacked us and continue to threaten us. There was a clear and worthwhile objective (which, we might add, was abandoned in favor of pursuing the invasion of Iraq). We opposed the war in Iraq because it served no clear objective and crippled us militarily. Syria, Iran and North Korea are laughing at us behind our backs because they know we're too pinned down in Iraq to take any serious boots-on-the-ground action against them. And for what? Every rationale this administration has trotted out has proven to be false: There are no WMDs, no links to al-Qaeda, no hope of democracy. We've strengthened global terrorism, weakened and debased our own military, and sacrificed the lives of thousands of Americans and innocent Iraqis. Many of us predicted all of this well before the invasion, but our realism was shouted down as wimpy anti-American pessimism.

"So no, Democrats are not opposed to all wars, but we are opposed to foolish and destructive ones that make America weaker. We consider it our duty to remind the American people that our resources are neither infinite nor free of cost. Somebody has to."

...Or words to that effect. It's not a radical departure from the current critique, but it better emphasizes the national security and foreign policy consequences of frivolous wars without forgetting about the lies and death that accompany them. The wording could probably be better, and I've probably left some points out, but I really wanted to outline an alternative approach that makes us sound less shy about the concept of military power as a lever for persuasion. (As opposed to our current president, who views it as a shiny toy and/or instrument of revenge)

*Doonesbury reference - I couldn't find a link to the original cartoon, but I didn't want to take credit for it either.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Welcome to The Land Of Badwrong.

Just... No. This is unacceptable. Posted by Picasa

And speaking of things that are unacceptable:

In the immortal words of Yoko Ono, "Aieeeee!" A fierce primal scream - of the kind Ms. Ono is famous for as a performance and recording artist - is surely the healthiest response to the agony of "Lennon," the jerry-built musical shrine that opened last night at the Broadhurst Theater.


This drippy version of his life, written and directed with equal clunkiness by Don Scardino and featuring a Muzak-alized assortment of Lennon's non-"Beatles" songs, suggests that he was just a little lost boy looking for love in all the wrong places until he found Ms. Ono and discovered his inner adult. When his adoring fans and a hitherto tame press turned on him in the late-1960's, Lennon told a journalist that his public had never seen him clearly to begin with, that even when he was a schoolboy, those who actually knew him never "thought of me as cuddly."

Yet cuddly is how Lennon (who is portrayed by five actors) emerges here, like a pocket-size elf doll who delivers encouraging mantras of self-help and good will when you scratch his tummy. "We're all one," "Love is the answer," "Be real" - these and other Lennonisms are projected in repeated succession on a screen before the show begins. Little that follows goes beyond such fortune-cookie wisdom.

And this was necessary why???

(And should I be concerned that someone found my blog via a Google search for "clinical assholism"?)

Torture Song Trilogy

Okay, so. BushCo is still fighting the release of additional Abu Ghraib images tooth & nail. They have apparently abandoned the truly laughable "It would humiliate the torture victims" rationale (I think that ship has already sailed, eh?), and have moved on to how "al-Qaeda and other groups will seize upon these images and videos as grist for their propaganda mill." Phila has an excellent post covering the moral bankruptcy of this strategy, but I want to talk a little bit about the stakes here, and why it's so important to the administration to suppress any more Abu Ghraib pictures.

Why should this be a big deal? After all, we've already seen pictures from Abu Ghraib, and everyone was suitably outraged. Even if the new pictures are worse, does it really make that big of a difference? Well, consider: Americans generally have short attention spans, and need the immediacy that images provide. Verbal descriptions of Abu Ghraib (and later, Gitmo) had absolutely zero effect. And now that everyone's seen the pictures, they're old news, and the scandal is essentially forgotten.

So why is this important now? Because when the first wave of Abu Ghraib pictures was released, the administration successfully palmed responsibility off on "a few bad apples," and most people were satisfied with that. But since then, revelations have come out about very similar tactics being employed at Guantanamo Bay, and still more damning, the fact that the torture and humiliation started at Abu Ghraib shortly after the general in charge of Gitmo transferred to Iraq. Right now, those linkages are dormant, because all they do is link a non-story (no photos of Gitmo) to an ex-story (old news!). But release additional photos from Abu Ghraib, and some people will start asking the same how-could-this-happen questions again. And this time, the old excuses will be a lot harder to sustain.

Conversely, if the administration succeeds in suppressing the additional Abu Ghraib photos, the coverup of their culpability will be successful. No-one will dig into the connections between Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, the connections that demonstrate that torture was systemic, pervasive, and instituted from a very very high level. We need those pictures to come out, and we need someone to start asking the right questions. A congressional investigation and/or special prosecutor would be appropriate but unlikely. Let's hope the media is on the job this time, or that the bad apples have some intrepid, fearless, and publicity-seeking legal representation.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Sunday Softball Blogging

Woohoo! I got my 100th hit of the season! I have no idea if this is really a meaningful milestone, but it sounds kinda cool, and it means I'm averaging a hair over 4 hits per game (of course, I'm also averaging almost 7 at-bats per game...).

Anyway, today was the day for trying out the new gear for the EschaCon softball game - the fanciest of the new bats has a great sweet spot, but it's very small, and the rest of the bat sucks. So if you hit it on the sweet spot, it's a rocket (I hit two balls out in a short batting practice session), but if you miss, it kinda thunks weakly. My spare gloves got some use, and I think I broke in my new cleats pretty well, too.

Oh yeah, the game. My team got pretty well crushed, something like 20-12, but I had a decent game at the plate, hitting the ball sharply up the middle and opposite field: 5-for-7 with 2 doubles, 2 runs, and 3 RBIs. Defense left a bit to be desired, especially on fly balls close to the fence, which have always been my achilles heel. Well, that and throwing. And ground balls. And- I'll come in again.

Current Stats: 24 games, .575 BA (100-174), 17 2B, 1 3B, 55 runs, 35 RBI.

Run, Forrest, run!!!

I like the little puff of dirt around the front foot.Posted by Picasa

Cautionary Glop

Just a coupla random walking-around pictures from earlier this week.

Must remember to post PetCo pictures from vacation - very cute and cuddly, um, frogs and lizards...

A stark reminder of Freedom's terrible cost.

I don't usually make my mind up on B&W vs. color when I take the shot, but I knew this was B&W all the way. Posted by Picasa

Okay, I admit it: I just didn't want to have two softball posts back-to-back.

There. Are ya happy now? Huh? Are ya?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Incredibly Belated Wednesday Softball Blogging

Yeah, I know, I know. But I had a ton of photos to process, and we went out after softball on Wednesday, and Thursday was Drinking Liberally, so I spent most of Friday night doing the actual processing.

Anyway, the softball itself went pretty well - I think I really do have my stroke back, going 6-for-7 with a double, 3 runs, and 4 RBIs. And after a couple of hiccups in the early going, it looks like my defense is almost all the way back, except for the throwing. The rest of the team kindly chipped in to get some photos of me in action, too.

Current Stats: 23 games, .569 BA (95-167), 15 2B, 1 3B, 53 runs, 32 RBI.

And I'm off!

Blurry disaster, or kinda cool? You be the judge. Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 12, 2005

Truly Fascinating Website

I can't believe I forgot all about Foundphotos - I only remembered it because Mike mentioned something similar at Pittsburgh Blogfest/Drinking Liberally last night.

Basically, this guy uses filesharing p2p software to download whatever image files he can find, and then posts the ones that are the most interesting. It sounds simple, but the results are hypnotic. Check it out!

Friday Quote Blogging

"We've brought the human race to that brave plateau where insanity is now a greater problem than hunger!"

- From The Formula, an incredibly boring movie about a conspiracy by the oil companies to cover up the invention of synthetic petroleum.

And, of course, I have pictures of other people's cats...

Roger's kitty Mocha, looking at, well, something. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Consolidated Cindy@Crawford Contemplations

This is another one of those posts where I try to pull together some musings that have been scattered here and there in comments, in this case some thoughts on Cindy@Crawford, who I think is more of a threat to Bush than Plamegate could ever be.

To elaborate: Unless and until there are indictments or maybe even convictions in L'Affaire Plame, I don't think it's devastating, because there's simply too much room to bandy about half-truths and technicalities and just generally obfuscate and murk things up. Oh, she wasn't really covert. Oh, they didn't really out her. Oh, they didn't really know she was covert. Oh, it's not really a crime, and anyway, the president didn't know about it. And so on, and so on. Enough reality has seeped through to severely damage Bush's poll numbers on honesty - which was supposed to be one of his advantages over those sleazy, morally relativist Democrats - but I don't think it's fatal, and I think it's something that people will forget about when the next blonde girl runs away and gets eaten by a shark. It'll stay in the back of their minds and they won't trust Bush quite as unconditionally as they used to, but many of them will still trust him more than the Democrats, which is all he really needs.

On the other hand, Bush's treatment of Cindy Sheehan damages him on multiple levels, and strikes to the very core of his carefully crafted character. Bush is supposed to be strong and resolute, but he's afraid to "confront" the mother of a soldier who died in his war. He's supposed to be a "compassionate conservative", and a salt-of-the-earth man's man who cares deeply about our troops, yet he allows his minions to tell the aforementioned mother to stay in the ditch, and threaten to arrest her. All of this exposes his cowardice, arrogance, and unaccountability in a way that the Democrats have never been able to make stick. And it does it in a way that's almost impossible to spin or obfuscate. There's no legal technicalities here, no confusion to sow - everyone understands the situation, and everyone knows Bush is ducking and covering. So far, the talking points I've heard have been that Cindy flip-flopped from her initial reaction to meeting Bush, and that her dead son wouldn't approve of what she's doing(!), and both of those are weak and beside the point.

The only thing that would be better is if Bush actually gives in and talks to her... on camera. Remember his peevish reaction to European interviewers who were not properly deferential? Now imagine him snapping at a dead troop's mother on national television. I suspect she would snap back, which would just make him even meaner. This could be the Dead Zone moment I've been waiting for, where he finally exposes his true colors for all to see.

Of course, as always, much depends on how much interest the media has in covering this story. There's certainly a good chance that the corporate ownership will be more than willing to forgo a powerful and compelling story to protect their sugar daddy. Their ability to obsessively and breathlessly cover celebrity trials and missing white girls, even in the absence of any meaningful updates, should translate very well to this sort of long-term vigil situation.

I also wanted to make a comment about strategy: I know there's an impulse to send as many people as possible down to Crawford for a show of solidarity, and to draw more media attention.

Don't. Please.

Cindy doesn't need more people to make her a more compelling story - she carries more weight as a lonely, solitary figure than she does at the center of a giant impromptu political rally. How much impact would those photos of her vigil have if she was surrounded by people waving signs and chanting slogans? More importantly, it makes her easier to frame and dismiss (and arrest) as the MoveOn-backed ringleader of an unruly, dangerous mob stalking the president. I don't mind her having a support system of friends, and/or a posse of other war widows and bereaved mothers (just try arresting all of them, I dare you) - I just don't want to see this turn into a Democrat-sponsored circus that makes Cindy look like a partisan tool. In other words, less really is more.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I did not mention that Viggo Mortensen stopped by "Camp Casey" today...

Pete Domenici, Terror-Fighting Patriotic American

Wow, I missed this one. Too bad we have a president who wants to save his veto power for stem cell research bills.

Despite widespread opposition - from the Bush administration, a majority of the Senate, leaders of the House Energy Committee, and nuclear regulators from the five preceding presidential administrations - Senator Pete Domenici, Republican of New Mexico and chairman of the Energy Committee, included an amendment that guts restrictions on the export of highly enriched uranium, the same material used in the Hiroshima atomic bomb.


The new law increases the likelihood of that nightmare scenario by allowing exports of bomb-grade uranium to foreign companies to rise to more than 100 pounds annually, thereby multiplying the odds that terrorists could steal enough for a bomb while the uranium is in transit to, or in storage at, foreign facilities.


The ill-advised amendment actually failed the only vote ever
held specifically on it by either house of Congress, in the Senate on June 23, 2005, by 52-46. The House of Representatives had slipped the provision into the energy bill without a vote, but once its ramifications became clear, both the House Energy Committee's chairman, Republican Joe Barton from Texas, and its ranking Democrat, John Dingell from Michigan, came to oppose it. They offered Senator Domenici a compromise to neuter the provision in deference to the Senate's vote against it.

This is where Mr. Domenici abused his power as Senate committee chair. He successfully pushed all of the Republicans he appointed to the House-Senate conference on the bill to vote for his provision - against the expressed will of the Senate. He then rejected the House's offer to eliminate the provision, thereby strong-arming the provision into law over the bipartisan opposition of executive and legislative branch officials.

So let us all take a moment to recognize Senator Domeneci's heroic efforts in the Global War On Terror - it's just too bad he's not on our side of it.

Random Thoughts

I have the perfect slogan if Missouri wants to start an ad campaign to promote itself as corporate-friendly:
"Missouri loves companies!"

Would the female equivalent of mensch be womensch?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

More Travelblogging

I got a bunch of really lovely cloud pictures looking out of my window to and especially from South Carolina. Here are a couple of my favorite "from" shots.