Saturday, October 31, 2009

trick or treat

My wireless is on the fritz. Joy. But we still can get a couple things done. Just about time to change some money.

Yglesias Award Nominee - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Good on the president. Yglesias Award Nominee - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

mmm, scones.

Twenty days. I should probably start thinking about changing some money to euros.

Happy Halloween

Trick or treating here we come

Thursday, October 29, 2009

And not that I'm counting or anything,

But in 22 days, I'll be on a plane crossing the Atlantic with my beautiful wife, who I plan to bring back at the end of the trip. Probably.

Some Things Confuse Me

Like how, in the face of all that has happened over the past 14 months, people can still think Sarah Palin is Presidential material? These must be the same people who think "I could be President." Much like you or I thought when we were 20. Except some of us get a larger grasp of things as we get older...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy

Interesting story in the San Antonio News Courant - apparently a man is going to trial after being arrested earlier this year for malicious mischief at Sea World. He reportedly took a Sharpie and drew all over the dolphins at the dolphin tank. His lawyer's statement makes it look like his defense is going to be an accidental occurance - he claims his client "didn't do it on porpoise."

Advocating Holy War?

That seems to be what Ross Douthat was advocating in his recent NY Times Article that was lambasted by Glenn Greenwald here.
Glenn writes:

It's obviously true that some Islamic extremists are inherently incompatible "with the Western way of reason," but that's just as true of Christian extremists and Jewish extremists and a whole array of other kinds of extremists. And some measures taken in the name of accommodating Islam are in tension with core liberties -- just as laws enacted in order to impose Judeo-Christian dogma are.

But the claim that Islam itself -- and the world's 1.5 billion Muslims -- cannot be accommodated by, or peacefully co-exist with, Western values or Christianity specifically is bigotry in its purest and most dangerous form. It's hard to imagine anything more inflammatory, hostile and outright threatening than a call for Christians of all denominations to unite behind the common cause of fighting against Islam as Christianity's most "enduring and impressive foe." No more "conciliation" or appeasement. What, exactly, does Douthat have in mind for vanquishing the Islamic menace from Europe? What weapons will this "united Anglican-Catholic front" employ against its reason-hating enemy? Which "accommodations" of Islam exactly should cease?

Read the whole article, and read Douthat's first. But understand that this is a dangerous opinion - "Muslim Extremists are bad." "Some Muslims are extremists." "Therefore we must wage war against all Muslims," and ask yourself how this is compatible with Jesus' teachings ("Love your neighbor as yourself," "Turn the other cheek," "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," etc.)?

BTW, Glenn's updates show western Christian examples that are not necessarily compatible with "the Western way of reason."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Anatomy of Propaganda

Mudflats dispels some myths being perpetuated via e-mail about Michelle Obama, particularly with regard to staffers, and the source of the myth.

You might be surprised to find out the source is a hardcore Christian Conservative...

Where did the Month go?

I turn around, and it's Oct. 27. In 4 weeks, I'll be waking up in Rome on my anniversary, enjoying my last full day in Europe (hopefully just for this trip, not for ever).

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Lions didn't Lose

Of course, they had a bye this week, but still - small victories.

Very tired. Another busy week ahead of me.

Cocacola update

I've now gone 9 days since I've switched to Diet Coke, and I've not cheated yet. I may have cut down my caffeine intake slightly, as well (it's possible, but it wouldn't be by much). My Coca-cola habit was pretty bad, I'd say generally speaking I have cut about 900 calories a day from my diet by switching from Coca-cola classic. That's over 2 pounds fewer calories over the past 9 days (though I don't think I've actually lost 2 pounds).

I have also changed my diet a little (it's a slight change, not a "diet"). I am doing the Subway for lunch thing - I walk through the downtown tunnels to the subway by Beck's Prime (best burgers in Downtown, but definitely expensive) and I get a six inch sub from their "Low-fat" menu. I do still get cheese on the sub (so it's not the "less than 6 grams of fat"), but not the mayonnaise, oil, or vinegar. I also am only eating a 6 inch instead of the foot longs that I used to have.

Dinner I do the same. For Breakfast, I'm actually eating a little now, instead of purely a liquid breakfast. I don't know how much help that is, but it's probably better than nothing.

At any rate, I'd venture to say I've managed to cut close to 3 pounds' worth of calories from my diet by making these little changes. If that's the case, then maybe I'll be a little trimmer when I fly out in 26 days.

Friday, October 23, 2009

It's the Constitution, Stupid!

A bill to cut off all funding to ACORN is unconstitutional. A bill to deny funding to any contractor who works with the DOD who denies the right of rape victims to sue in court for their injuries is constitutional. These are different situations.

The difference is key - one (cutting off funding) is designed to make illegal actions that affect ONE entity - ACORN. This is called a bill of attainder and is expressly prohibited in the Constitution. The other (allowing rapists to sue their rapers) effects ALL entities that would contract with the government and is perfectly legitimate. It doesn't make actions that happened before the bill illegal - that is to say Jamie Leigh Jones still won't be able to sue Halliburton or her rapists (alleged) over her ordeal. That would be unconstitutional as an ex-post facto law. But going forward, unless Inouye gets his way, then future injuries of this kind would be viewed in court. It doesn't require that defense contractors quit putting rape arbitration clauses in their contracts. Rather it says that defense contractors who don't take these clauses out will not be able to contract with the government. (He who pays the piper calls the tune).

I've been having troble with embedding video recently on here, so I'm going to direct you to Glenn Greenwald's site, where you can watch a video of a congressman being educated on what you would hope he would already know (though he's a Republican congressman, so perhaps ignorance of the Constitution is allowed?)

The unconstitutionality of the Congressional GOP's ACORN obsession

The unconstitutionality of the Congressional GOP's ACORN obsession

Posted using ShareThis

Four Weeks

Until my trip. I don't know if I've mentioned this or not, but I'm taking the wife to Italy for our anniversary. I'm kind of looking forward to it.

At home, all seems well. At work, we're rather busy.

And this is my seventh day Coca-cola free. I've possibly made the successful switch to Diet Coke, which, if I calculate correctly, is saving me about 900 calories a day. I've not changed my eating habits other than to eat less - with less fat - during lunch. I eat the same amount at dinner.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday is Haiku Day

It's been four long months
But, in just thirty more days
We're going to Rome!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Making the Switch

I quit smoking in 2003 about a day or two after passing out on the interstate feeder road while taking the family to Chuck E. Cheese's. While the passing out certainly played a role in the quitting, it wasn't "the" reason I quit. It was time.

I firmly believe that when it comes to quitting something, you need to be physically and mentally ready to quit, both on a conscious and subconscious level. I think there are several people who "want" to quit but are not ready and therefore their attempts to quit will not be fruitful. Once you're ready to quit, though, then it is rather easy - you essentially just stop.

I had a similar situation happen to me yesterday - I made the switch from regular Coca-cola, which I've had virtually every day since 1995 (and a whole lot before that, as well, but '95 was the last time I stopped drinking it), to diet Coke. While I don't expect merely making this switch is going to result in my losing copious amounts of weight, I do think it will help stem the tide of weight gain I've been noticing over the last couple of months.

I still need to exercise more (I looked at Bikram yoga, but I'm a little too Middle Class Midwestern at heart to make that plunge, especially at $140/month), and might start running in the mornings, or something to get on the way down...

But it's a start.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's Friday

And I wouldn't mind grilling tonight. Though it depends on the weather.

Definitely have to cut the grass this weekend.

And we missed the second Sunday - so may need to try to get in touch with Mr. and Mrs. Photog...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fear and Governning in Austin Texas

Some of you may have already heard about the Cameron Todd Willingham case. In a nutshell, Willingham was convicted of arson and murdering his wife and children in said arson. Since the conviction (which Willingham maintained his innocence), and even during the trial, where he turned down a plea offer for life in prison, new evidence has come out suggesting that the fire was NOT arson. This new evidence led to Willingham's attorneys asking for a stay of execution for their client. In fact, they submitted a request on the day of Willingham's scheduled execution at 4:52pm. At just after 5pm that same day Texas Governor Rick Perry stated that he wouldn't intervene. Willingham was executed about an hour later.

There was to be an inquiry into the execution of Willingham, particularly to the question of whether or not the State of Texas executed an innocent man. The board was set to convene, when Governor Perry fired 3 of the panel members (including the chair). The new board, with a chair appointed by Governor Perry consequently cancelled the hearing. Governor Perry has now canned a fourth member of the committee (he can only remove four, the remaining five are appointed by other state officials). Governor Perry has essentially stated that the inquiry is unnecessary because he's convinced Willingham is guilty. As Publius wrote in the article linked above,

Of course, his motive is fairly clear. Perry contributed to the execution of an innocent person. And the formal recognition that Texas executed an innocent man would trigger a massive political earthquake -- one that would clarify to an inattentive public the utter barbarity and immorality of Texas's criminal justice system.

So yes, I can understand Perry's motives. But it doesn't change the fact that he is acting in a profoundly immoral way. The whole thing reminds me of a banana republic dictator clumsily covering up his crimes.

But in addition to making me mad, I'm hopeful that this story will change some "hearts and minds." Specifically, I hope that social conservatives (particularly in Texas) take some time to reflect on the implications of the fact that Texas executed an innocent person -- and that Rick Perry is trying to cover it up. It's hard to think of something that more directly contradicts the "culture of life."
The problem in this instance isn't that the Death Penalty exists. While I am reluctant to advocate its use, I believe that its presence in and of itself does serve as a deterrent. There are enough criminals who manage to lead very productive lives even in prison and enough violent crimes that take place in prison to suggest that merely putting someone in prison for the rest of their life might not be sufficient as a deterrent, and the presence of capital punishment as a possible sentence might affect actions that otherwise might have occurred. The problem comes with its utilization - in order for it to be defensible as a sentencing tool, it needs to be rare and reserved only for the most clearly brazenly guilty.

No, the issues isn't with the existence of capital punishment, rather the issue is with Governor Perry's brazen cover up of his mistake. He knows that he did something completely and utterly indefensible and he's trying to deflect attention. He has gone on the record stating that he believes Willingham was guilty, so the execution was justified. However, the key piece of evidence of the murder (the arson) has been called into legitimate question by renowned arson experts such as Austin forensics expert Gerald Hurst and Baltimore Forensics expert Craig Beyler, and Governor Perry doesn't want this information getting out. This cover-up is what is at issue. As far as I know, nobody is calling Cameron Todd Willingham an angel - they're merely stating that he likely didn't commit the murder for which he was executed - he was innocent. He was not convicted of any other heinous acts, and to execute him for reasons for which he wasn't convicted laughs in the face of our criminal justice system and our Constitution. He may have been a "monster" as Governor Perry refers to him, but that doesn't mean he was a murderer. And an inquiry that could have brought this to a final conclusion has been quashed by the person who could most benefit from its potential conclusion.

Kay Bailey Hutchison (a gubernatorial candidate) piles on in an eerily partisan manner.

About Freaking Time

Orly Taitz has been sanctioned by a judge for her outrageous refusal to accept that President Obama is actually president and her "clients" don't have "standing." A federal judge in Georgia slapped her down, saying (quoted from the article linked above): "The absolute absence of any legitimate legal argument, combined with the political diatribe in her motions, demonstrates that Ms. Taitz's purpose is to advance a political agenda and not to pursue a legitimate legal cause of action," and, "[that while Taitz's speech is protected by the U.S. Constitution,] the federal courts are reserved for hearing genuine legal disputes, not as a platform for political rhetoric and insults."

Orly Taitz claims that this sanction is just an attempt to intimidate and make her stop. She's half right.

My Two Cents' on Obama's Peace Prize

I agree with the sentiment that it's premature. I also agree that President Obama's not done enough (e.g. investigations into violations of laws of war perpetrated by the previous administration or under its watch, continued policy of preventive detention, etc.), though he's done a bit.

What I think, more than anything else, is that his name was the one placed on the award, yet the award was for the American people, who elected to remove a blight from office (yes, he was on his way out anyway, but we could very easily have chosen John McCain, who basically vowed to continue with Bush's techniques), and we chose to look a different direction. I think this was our award, rather than the President's, and it speaks to how the international community views us on the leaderboard.

Like I said - it's my 2 cents' worth - so it's not too profound, maybe I'll expound later...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Obama's Administration - continuing the wrongs of the Bush Administration?

They're the Worst of the Worst, right? Check out Andrew Sullivan.

Shared via AddThis

"Sarah Palin" has arrived

"She" did the Run to Nowhere!
As much as I can't stand these stupid "I can haz" posters, this one made me laugh.

From Obsidian Wings, who posted this poster with some commentary on what led to President Obama's nomination/win (it wasn't for what he did, it was what we as a country did in electing him after 8 years of the alternative - though imho the jury is still out on just how much better President Obama has been/will be on indefin

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Homemade Chicken N' Dumplin's

I have been very tired lately. Listless, almost. I think some of it has to do with work, and some of it has to due with the season change, and some of it has to do with the seeming lack of an outlet for myself. I've lost a lot of my motivation to blog, and I'm worried about time for other activities, such as bowling or something to that effect.

But I do have a good dinner waiting to be eaten. I have some solace there.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's Saturday Morning

And I'm sort of watching football. I'm somewhat tired - it's been a long summer.

I haven't read the new Conservative Bible yet, though I have seen a couple suggested amendments - use "Liberals" for "Pharisees," etc.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

"Objectively Pro Rape"

That's the headline given to the Balloon Juice post where I found the link to this Think Progress article. The article discusses Senator Al Franken's bill amendment that was recently voted on: "Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) proposed an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that would withhold defense contracts from companies like KBR 'if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.'" This amendment stems in part from what Think Progress reports as a gang rape of Jamie Leigh Jones, who was "prevented from bringing charges in court against KBR because her employment contract stipulated that sexual assault allegations would only be heard in private arbitration."

The amendment passed Senate Vote by a vote of 68-30 with Senators Byrd (D) and Specter (D) not voting. The 30 nays?

NAYs ---30
Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

Apparently, for these Republicans, it's ok for contractors to go overseas and help in the fight to defend our constitution from the menace of those marauding insurgents that we created, but it would be ghastly to allow the employees of these agencies the benefits guaranteed by the Constitution...

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Liberal Bias

It's infected religion! That's why there is such a huge faction of the Religious Left!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Boy What a Weekend

I didn't do nearly as much as I could have. I'm beat. Just completely exhausted. It's been a busy, strange week at work, not so much with me, but with co-workers. It could have been much worse, though.

We're having Shrimp Boil tonight - there is little in the world better than a good old shrimp boil.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Huskies and Wolverines Lose

It's a bad weekend for fans of storied football teams.

So I got my finger checked out

I have had this sore on there for about 3 months, and didn't think much of it - it kicked up last year for about a month then went away, and I figured it would do the same thing this year, however it didn't.

3 months and much cajoling later, I finally yielded to the lamentations of my wife and co-workers and went to get it checked out. Let me first say that I was not terribly impressed with the clinic at which I was seen. The wait was over 2 hours just to get in to the room, and then another 25 minutes after that. I saw a Nurse Practitioner for all of about 3 minutes, who looked at my finger, didn't know what it was, and decided to give me steroids and antibiotics. I don't feel at all uneased about this situation.

Still, I'll take the medicine and hope it all clears up for my trip to Rome in 48 days.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Apparently, there's not much Michele Bachmann won't say in the interest of being heard. Here, she preys upon the concerns of the pro life crowd with the absurd notion that Health Care reform will mean that your kids are going to be getting abortions at school while you can do nothing about it. Never mind that there's nothing in any proposed bill that would say that, or that Federal and State laws requiring notice would still apply, we need to make the most outrageous, Beck-esque statement we can think of so that we can really fire up the opposition. The link below is from The Moderate Voice.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Posted using ShareThis

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The more that comes out, the worse it looks

And the former president KNEW, and Dick Cheney KNEW, and the staff knew, and they all knew they were torturing an innocent man -unconscionable.