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Odd things and such things, as I feel appropriate, possibly relating to the war.
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Jerry Lawson, Proprietor

Comments by: YACCS

Saturday, June 29 - ESSAYS ON OUR TIMES
In Christendom, and in Christendom alone so far as I can see, was this principle established to "render unto Caesar". There can be no such thing as a "holy war" in Christian doctrine, though truth to tell, fallen Christians have tried to start some, in such as the Crusades. (The idea for which was imported, it was an attempt to Christianize the Islamic notion of "Jihad", which finally collapsed because it was unChristian.)

The Church itself, the "church militant", is in the business of saving souls -- never, ever, by violent means, because souls can't be saved by coercion.

We inherit today, in our post-Christian, Western civilization, this notion of the separation of church and state. We inherit it from Christianity, though clearly most of us do not know this, and think it was a secular idea. It was instead a religious idea, and a very important one, for it was the idea that made secular politics, and thus the toleration of religious and other minorities, possible. (Not even the Romans could tolerate those who refused worship to the Roman gods; and the Athenians killed Socrates on a charge of blasphemy.)
On the separation of church and state and Christian pacifism, this is a pretty good article and I agree with his points. (Like it really matters to the majority of one-stop shoppers here who are looking for photos of your favorite celebrity nude.)


IMRA - Thursday, June 27, 2002 Michael Widlanski/Media Line: VIRGIN VIDEO ON ARAFAT'S TV PROMISES SEXY AFTER-LIFE FOR 'MARTYRS'
When Palestinian terrorists who blow themselves up in order to murder as many Israelis as possible, are they acting out of despair or out of hope?

A new Palestinian movie video, which aired today (June 27) on Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation gives an inside view into Palestinian thinking that may supply the answers.

A dark-haired and good-looking 35-year-old Arab man is seen walking with an attractive woman of about the same age.

It is clear that she is his wife or his girl-friend and that he loves her,
but the movie has no dialogue or written on-screen text, only background music and some very clear and heavy suggestions.

The movie clip, which preceded and introduced the 3PM afternoon news, is about Palestinian "martyrdom"-its causes and its rewards.

The man and his wife see Israeli army (IDF) soldiers, and frowns darken
their features, and the music is very morose.

The young man clearly starts thinking about how to strike out at the Israeli soldiers.

Almost immediately, the music changes to a more optimistic tone as, out of a kind of mist, stunningly beautiful young women-between 18 and 22 years of age-begin to beckon to him.

The gorgeous women, who are younger than his wife, are all clad in billowy white robes. They are all smiling fetchingly as they call to him, making motions with their hands as if to say "come-here" and "join us."

We next see the man after he is captured by the IDF following an apparent attack on them.

But, as the music takes on another sinister twist, the Israelis deliberately release the Palestinian man.

Their plan is clear: they are going to kill the handsome Arab man "while
trying to escape."

He appears as a target in the cross-hairs of an Israeli automatic rifle.

His wife cries, her face screwed up in agony, but the end is not sad.

The camera moves quickly from the bereaved widow to the new Palestinian martyr who is smiling in paradise.

One of the gorgeous women in white greets him and pulls him into the mist where she and seven or eight beautiful women begin to surround him and gently caress him.

The video ends on a happy note without a word having been said, but the message is clear: here is the Islamic tradition of a martyr being welcomed into paradise where he will be ministered by 72 beautiful virgins.

But is this movie clip a message of hope or despair?

Israeli intelligence and psychological experts-inside the IDF as well as
Israeli universities-- have been forming their conclusions, without the
benefit of this latest video, but the movie clip seems to reinforce their
general conclusion.

The suicide bombers act out of a combination of despair and hope. Israeli experts and outside observers have seen the despair which is clear, the product of war, economic deprivation and daily frictions and furstrations.

In addition, several of the human bombers who have attacked Israeli troops and Israeli civilians (as well as some who were captured before they could attack) fit a clear psychological pattern:

Wafa Idris, who blew herself up on Jaffa Road several months ago, was a woman divorced and thrown out by her husband after she had a miscarriage and was told by doctors she could never give birth.

Other women bombers have had similar desperate personal problems, while many of the male suicide bombers were men who were infected with hepatitis, cancer and AIDS.

Their actions obviously had a strong background of personal desperation and despair, but those who gave them bombs and strapped the explosives to their bodies gave them something else: hope, hope for a better life in the world to come.

The new Palestinian television video-aired in the afternoon for maximum
viewing by Palestinian children-underscores the message of hope.

It is a hope for a better world, but not in this world, not in this lifetime.
Never mind we don't seem to have anything documented on Israelis deliberately killing Palestinians that aren't actively trying to kill them first. A certain amount of creative license is expected...

Never mind that this is from Arafat's channel. Who, as has been mentioned by others "asking Arafat to refrain from terrorism is like asking Tiger Woods to not play golf."

Never mind that this commercial doesn't encourage trying to make a better world TODAY - just blow yourself up or get killed by the Israelis and you'll have a brighter tomorrow...

It's a culture of death. Pathological, un-sane, and perverse. As such - it could either be encouraged to continue (which is bad) or stopped, which would be almost as bad.

No easy answers - just readily apparent questions...


Thursday, June 27 Conservative Columnists: Dennis Prager
Why does the left support the Palestinians?

Why does the left support the Palestinians against Israel?

The question is rarely asked. It is simply taken for granted that the left -- Europe, the Western news media, the universities, the liberal churches, the arts world -- supports the Palestinians and the larger Arab/Muslim worlds in their war against Israel.
But the question does need to be asked. For it is completely inconsistent with the left's professed values to side with Israel's enemies. Just about every value the left claims to uphold Israel upholds and its enemies do not.

The left speaks about its passion for democracy ("power to the people"). Yet it is Israel that is a fully functioning democracy, as opposed to all of its Arab and Muslim enemies. Yasser Arafat is precisely the self-aggrandizing, corrupt dictator-type that the left claims to hold in contempt.
Good question... And the answer the author comes up with makes a LOT of sense.


International Watch - June 17, 2002 - The Ornery American - By Orson Scott Card
You Can't Have Peace When the Enemy Wants War

The coalition is killing us.

The trouble is, without allies, this war is going to be very hard to win -- not without turning it into a world war between Islam and America.

We don't want to fight that war.

But Osama bin Laden, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and their ilk -- that's what they'd like best.

Are they crazy?

Well, yes. I mean, they send suicide bombers to kill people who aren't doing them any harm. Of course they're crazy.

But that doesn't mean they're stupid. Their objective is to send the world up in flames. Why? Because right now, the Muslim world is pretty near the bottom of the hierarchy of nations, and it's very hard to reconcile that with the promises of the Qur'an.
So, if by following your religion you are being outproduced by the rest of the world, the solution is to force the world to stop producing. Not change the way YOU work, but change the rest of the world.




Yahoo! News - Man Who Won Pledge Suit Says Has Received Threats
Michael Newdow, an atheist from Sacramento, California, said his "patriotic" lawsuit was filed on behalf of his elementary school daughter. She was not required to recite the pledge but he argued she was hurt by being forced to watch and listen to a government-enforced ritual that proclaimed God.
"I don't see this as being problematic in any way except to offend the people who want to infuse the government with their religious beliefs," he said on ABC's "Good Morning America."
When asked if he had received death threats, he said:
"There have been phone messages that are not particularly attractive, I guess from the people who have God on their side," he said on NBC's "Today" show.
The ruling sparked outrage across political lines when it was announced -- President Bush ( news - web sites) on Wednesday called the ruling "ridiculous" and the U.S. Senate voted 99-0 for a resolution that expressed support for the pledge.
Newdow said he now plans to bring a lawsuit challenging the "In God We Trust" motto printed on U.S. currency.
"It's government imparting its religious views on American citizens," he said on ABC. "I happen to be one of those who don't adhere to that majority view."

What a hero.

I can't wait until his 'fifteen minutes' of fame are over. Which should, I think, happen probably... next Tuesday.

I feel sorry for his kid, though. Imagine having a daddy who won't tell you "There's some things that just aren't worth the effort of fighting, so you need to pick your battles carefully", but will instead IN YOUR NAME make a blazing fool of himself.

I've got to give the guy credit. He's doing what he thinks is right - but it's incredibly petty, nonetheless.


Reason - "Silent Spring" Debunked
Carson was also an effective popularizer of the idea that children were especially vulnerable to the carcinogenic effects of synthetic chemicals. "The situation with respect to children is even more deeply disturbing," she wrote. "A quarter century ago, cancer in children was considered a medical rarity. Today, more American school children die of cancer than from any other disease [her emphasis]." In support of this claim, Carson reported that "twelve per cent of all deaths in children between the ages of one and fourteen are caused by cancer."

Although it sounds alarming, Carson’s statistic is essentially meaningless unless it’s given some context, which she failed to supply. It turns out that the percentage of children dying of cancer was rising because other causes of death, such as infectious diseases, were drastically declining.
A couple of years back, I noticed a woman in one of the forums I frequented who maintained that polio shots (indeed, any vaccination of any kind) were totally unnecessary, and she pointed at the vastly declining rates of childhood mortality as proof that they weren't needed. The idea that the declining rates could be due to the vaccination programs run by the government didn't figure into her thinking - she KNEW that vaccinations were harmful, and used statistics out of context to fuel her fears.

This article on DDT, and the growth of the environmentalist movement shows that a lot of the same concerns and misstatements were used to get things banned that may not have been warranted. After all, they reasoned, these things MIGHT be harmful, so better to get things banned (like DDT) than wait until the evidence was solid.

So because DDT was banned it's been estimated that over 100 million people have died of malaria. And we won't even wonder at how many are ill from the parasite, or how many companies have NOT put in facilities where they could have done well because of the expense of pest control.

The law of unintended consequences is still in effect.


Culture of Tolerance

In the past, I've posted that I think Islam is a relatively tolerant religion. However, I've been rethinking things. And I also found this site, which has some pictures on it that are disturbing. There is no english translation, but I understand it's a preschool graduation ceremony in an area held by the Palestinians.

And if Aaron ever learned anything like this, we'd yank him from the school so fast there'd be a vaccum where he was.

I'm going to link pictures here because they're relevant. I know that some folks consider it bandwidth stealing, but the way I look at it - they've got it up on the net so they want to share them.

So I'll share them with you.

Update: Apparently, I won't. The site is down, and down hard. My guess is, they realised showing children playing at killing Israelis didn't do one bit to advance their cause.

So they pulled the site completely - not even the base page at is available.

Guess they weren't so proud of showing things to the world after all.

I'm going to leave the picture links here - perhaps it's just down 'temporarily'. Hey, guys? Next time, don't put a picture of a little girl with bloody hands supposedly dipped in the blood of lynched Israeli soldiers up on a web page - unless you're really proud of her. You see, it really DOES show the rest of the world what you're thinking - and you really don't want that.







I'm fully willing to see this as an anomaly - but I'm REALLY starting to have my doubts about the inherent peacefulness of the Islamic culture.


Wednesday, June 26
Live from the WTC // Comments
I think that the lawsuits have stretched the establishment clause all out of proportion in order to make the world more comfortable for the plaintiffs at the expense of everyone else.

How would I feel? I wouldn't care. I grew up a Christian by birth in a mostly Jewish neighborhood, attending a mostly Jewish school where I was in the minority. I went to assemblies where Jewish holidays were commemorated and bowed my head out of respect, because that's what my mother taught me was polite. I didn't suffer any untoward consequences and I am utterly unsympathetic to people who claim that their delicate little psyches are simply not up to the task of living in a religiously pluralistic society and that we must therefore legislate their preferences for everyone -- whether those preferences are for creationism in the classroom or creches locked behind closed doors. Note that his daughter didn't have to say anything -- he was trying to make sure that no one else was allowed to mention God, because having other people mention the word in her presence is somehow akin to taxing her to pay for the church, or arresting people for their religious views -- the two abuses that the establishment clause was designed to prevent. How is forbidding other people to mention God in front of you striking a blow for religious freedom?
Ummmm... Good question.

Near as I can tell, it's just a comfort issue with this guy - that, and an ego-trip. "Woo, I managed to get a stupid-ass case all the way to the Court of Appeals! I'm big, manly, studly, and atheist chicks are going to want my body." (And yes, I think he's a jerk.)
"If I were in a muslim nation, I wouldn't complain if they mentioned Allah, and if I were in an atheist nation I wouldn't complain about tracts that said there was no God. My personal beliefs are not threatened by the beliefs of those around me, and if your beliefs are, then I personally don't think that they're strong enough for the nation to be legislating about in the first place."
Apparently, athestic beliefs are pretty fragile. If they don't believe there's a god, why would it matter if others did? If they don't believe there's a god, what would it matter what you say - as in the "Under God" part?



The blessing and the curse of the blogosphere is simply that there are too many good sites out there, and not enough time to read them all. Today, I've finally gotten around to adding several more blogs to my 'occasionals' list at left. Their designation in that category (as opposed to Everyday Blogs) says nothing about their quality. They're there primarily because they either don't post everyday, they're already thoroughly linked by others, or I just haven't gotten around to reading them often enough to make a habit of it. I try to drop by everybody I link to at least once a week, though, but it's tough.
How true it is. I could easily spend two or three hours a day reading blogs and writing comments. But between earning a living, my family and other projects, there's just not the time - unless I sacrifice sleep.

And I'm just not willing to do that any more. (I'm just a wimp, ain't I?)

J. - Litigant explains why he brought 'pledge' suit - June 26, 2002
Neville: How long have you been contemplating this suit?

Newdow: One day I was just looking at the coins (that) is what brought this up. I saw "In God We Trust" on my coins. I said "I don't trust in God" what is this? And I recalled there was something in the Constitution that said you're not allowed to do that and so I did some research. And as soon as I did the research, I realized the law seemed to be on my side and I filed the suit. It's a cool thing to do, everyone should try it.
It's a cool thing.

Everyone should try it.

Everyone should bring a frivilous suit. Everyone should tie up the courts over the wording in something that offends them.

And because this fool was offended, he feels it's his right to impose his feelings on others.

California. Only in California...


Pledge Declared Unconstitutional
SAN FRANCISCO –– A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the Pledge of Allegiance is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion and cannot be recited in schools.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a 1954 act of Congress inserting the phrase "under God" after the words "one nation" in the pledge. The court said the phrase violates the so-called Establishment Clause in the Constitution that requires a separation of church and state.

"A profession that we are a nation 'under God' is identical, for Establishment Clause purposes, to a profession that we are a nation 'under Jesus,' a nation 'under Vishnu,' a nation 'under Zeus,' or a nation 'under no god,' because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion," Judge Alfred T. Goodwin wrote for the three-judge panel.
It's the water. It's GOT to be the water. This is so... so...

Ah, hell! Words fail me.

But my gast is DEFINITLY flabbered at this point.


The Only Ant In Aviation brings you a Public Service Message




The Dasher Project

This is a MUST-SEE. Possibly the most innovative approach I've seen to text entry I've seen - and fun, too.

There's a 1.6 mb download, if you want to try it out. In the course of about five minutes, I got up to an input speed of about 20 words a minute.



Tuesday, June 25
UNICORN JELLY by Jennifer Diane Reitz


Every so often I find things on the web that stop and make me think. Rarely, however, do I find things like this - a simple rephrasing, a redefinition of a word - that strikes me like a velvet-wrapped eight lb. sledgehammer.

Consider the word "Victory". What does it mean to you? I would imagine there's about as many conceptual definitions as there are folks out there reading this. But in this case, in this cartoon sequence, a dying fighter realizes that...

"Victory has nothing to do with killing or with dying. It is the creation of a better future."

And it's true.

The future is what we all try to create - a future where, for example, my son will be able to grow tall and strong and healthy and free. For someone else, the desired future for their child is to be a martyr - they can imagine no higher calling than for their child to explode themselves and take some enemies with them.

Which of the two societies compared is liable to be a viable one? Prosperous, with long-term economic and social health?

They feel that dying and killing others is a way to a better future for their culture, instead of staining themsleves by cooperation with folks who are not like them. I feel that living in peace provides a better future than any splodydope (And thanks to James Lileks for providing that term - I think it was him, at least) could hope to achieve by an expedited self-disassembly. Not to mention passing my genes to the future (hmmm.. could I leave out the myopia, please?) while the other one scatters his over the landscape...

Death. Versus Life.

Ah, hell. I know Entropy is going to win in the end - Death comes for us all. But embracing it before it's time is not a victory - it's a defeat. And glorifying that as a GOOD thing, a laudable ambition, a viable long-term strategy, is just plain stupid.


Daily Pundit Archives
What A Coincidence!
Three, four letters against an invasion of Iraq - using very substantially the same words. One from the Sacramento Bee, one from the Philadelphia Daily News, the Honolulu Star Bulletin, Seattle & St. Louis...

The phrase to look for is "200,000 servicemen in bloody ground combat". The rest of the letters are substantially the same - a few bits and pieces added or missing...

Spamming the opinion columns... isn't that interesting? It's also rather interesting that bloggers CAUGHT it. The major media didn't.


David Brin's Official Web Site: "Survival of the Fittest Ideas" (speech excerpt)
The following is excerpted from a speech that I gave at Brigham Young University in 1989, and later transcribed and lightly revised for publication in a small zine. Of special note is my prediction, even before the Berlin Wall fell, that our Cold War with the Soviet Union would give way to an era of dire strife with some version of frenetic, male-centered fundamentalism... such as we now see manifesting in a new century. While this early forecast may read a little rough (it was a speech, recall), it is an unusual view of our world's troubles, one that may bear further discussion. Since then I have further developed most of these themes, including the notion of criticism as an antidote to error and the idea that tolerance depends on openness.
MOST worthwhile read. Take the time, and think on it.

For example - he sees four memes battling it out in the world today.

Paranoia - as exemplified by the USSR (and, in a way, by China or any country that won't allow openess of intellectual ideas)

Machismo - "Wherever you see women oppressed and the environment ignored, wherever professionalism and skill are downgraded in favor of strutting and male-bonded loyalty groups, it's a good bet that Machismo sets a culture's major chord."

Eastern -"Everyone should subsume their sense of self to the larger group, to the nation, to the tribe, whatever. . . . individualism is dangerous. Deviation and eccentricity are worse. The nail that sticks up gets hammered down."

"The Dogma of Otherness" ... "is a worldview that actually encourages an appetite for newness. A hunger for diversity. An eagerness for change. Tolerance, naturally, plays a major role in the legends spread by this culture."
"Still, I've thought of an amusing experiment you might play, using these four protagonists. Try to picture what might happen if a ship full of extraterrestrials landed in a Macho culture, or a Paranoid one, or in the East.

You get three wildly different scenarios, don't you? Now imagine if aliens made contact with people brought up in the fourth way I mentioned -- under the Dogma of Otherness. Forget Hollywood pathos about nasty CIA types and trigger-happy rednecks. Try to picture a flying saucer setting down in today's Los Angeles. The National Guard might be called out to encircle the vessel, but they wouldn't face inward. They would be far too busy facing in the opposite direction, protecting our alien visitors from autograph hounds, groupies, and hordes seeking novelty.

The first thing that Californians would ask aliens is -- "Have you got any new cuisine?"
Heh. Enjoy.


Monday, June 24
President Bush Calls for New Palestinian Leadership

President Bush is going to get criticised for this speech, big time. Yet today he said a lot of things that needed to be said - and how.
Today, Palestinian authorities are encouraging, not opposing, terrorism. This is unacceptable. And the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure. This will require an externally supervised effort to rebuild and reform the Palestinian security services. The security system must have clear lines of authority and accountability and a unified chain of command.

America is pursuing this reform along with key regional states. The world is prepared to help, yet ultimately these steps toward statehood depend on the Palestinian people and their leaders. If they energetically take the path of reform, the rewards can come quickly. If Palestinians embrace democracy, confront corruption and firmly reject terror, they can count on American support for the creation of a provisional state of Palestine.

With a dedicated effort, this state could rise rapidly, as it comes to terms with Israel, Egypt and Jordan on practical issues, such as security. The final borders, the capital and other aspects of this state's sovereignty will be negotiated between the parties, as part of a final settlement. Arab states have offered their help in this process, and their help is needed.
And I predict that the Palestinians, finally being shown a way to get what they desire, with conditions for getting what they want put out clearly and simply, will fuck it up quickly and completely.

And the other Islamic countries will aid them in this process.

You have no idea how I hope I'm wrong on this, but I'm expecting the suicide bombings to intensify, now that we've basically shown them a way out of the mess they're in.


Saturday, June 22
Yahoo! News - Advice Columnist Ann Landers Dies
CHICAGO (AP) - Ann Landers, the columnist whose snappy, plainspoken and timely advice helped millions of readers deal with everything from birth to death, died Saturday. She was 83.

The death of Landers, whose real name was Esther Lederer, was announced by the Chicago Tribune, publisher of her column. She died less than two weeks before her July 4 birthday.
Ah, rats. I'm gonna miss her...

J. | Metro | Arab-American money supports McKinney
Arab-American leaders, including some who believe their community has been singled out for persecution since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, say the explanation for their generosity is simple: McKinney is a longtime supporter.

Their concerns are particularly pertinent in the wake of regulations proposed by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to require certain foreign visitors, particularly those of Middle Eastern and Muslim descent, to submit to more extensive border security checks.

Arab-American leaders say McKinney has spoken in their defense when other members of Congress would not. They appreciate that she has lamented the quality of life that Palestinians in the Middle East suffer.

"McKinney has addressed our conventions more than once. She has received standing ovations. She has brought tears to people's eyes more than once," said Hussein Ibish, spokesman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Probably tears of laughter!

"Can you believe how stupid that woman is? She bought the lies! ALL of them!"

"What do you expect? She is so convinced that her government is evil, that she'd do ANYTHING to make it look bad!"

"That $10 million offer she tried to get - oh, it would be worth it in entertainment value alone! And that PICTURE! I've seen CAMELS that looked more intelligent!"

"Yes - but she's more useful than a camel! Why, she's almost an honest politician - she stays bought!"

"It is SO good to have useful idiots in the US Government! Just feed her some stories, and she believes them! That accusation against President Bush - it was a wondrous leak! We MUST make sure she is outside the danger zone for the next attack!"

In short - she's a bloomin' idiot who would scream at the idea of being forced into a burqua, but she gleefully supports those who would do it to her, or kill her for not wearing one.



Sudan: Today's Ignored Holocaust - Conservative Society & Culture
So why aren’t we hearing more about this dreadful situation? Why is the media relegating the holocaust from the Sudan to the back pages of the newspapers, if at all? Perhaps it is because the crimes being committed are by blacks upon blacks, which is something the media doesn’t care about since it is not politically correct to point out. Perhaps it is also because the victims are Christians, which are usually the media’s target of ridicule and criticism, not their sympathetic victims or heroes. So the message from the media is this: if you are a black Christian, your death is a lot less important than somebody else’s death. Sounds eerily similar to how the early U.S. viewed the black slaves, who were primarily Christians - as 3/5 of a person. Funny, since the liberal-leaning media never ceases to insist that their “progressive” left wing philosophy is the least racist philosophy.
Got little to say about this - except that if the folks doing the killing in the Sudan were white or Christian, it's be front-page news.

As it is, it should be.


MSN Tech & Gadgets / Internet
Some lucky "Star Trek" fan will have a chance to take the captain's seat in an upcoming auction available on eBay.
Captain Kirk's command chair from the starship Enterprise will be one of some 374 mostly "Star Trek"-related lots that will go up for auction next Thursday.
Starfleet's fallen on hard times. Next thing you know, they'll be holding garage sales...


Thursday, June 20 - School says game of tag is out...
SANTA MONICA — A Santa Monica elementary school has banned the game of tag, once synonymous with youth and innocence, because they say it creates self-esteem issues among weaker and slower children.
There's times I wonder just what might be in the water in California. Aside from dihydrogen monoxide, and I understand they're trying to remove even that...

What's going to happen when kids who are raised in a self-esteem enhancing environment hit the real world? They've been insulated from having to actually perform well to get praise, they've been protected from anything that might damge their self-esteem - and then they're going to hit the real world, where people won't think twice about telling them they're incompetent or inadequate in their jobs.
Dr. Judy Young, executive director of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, disagreed with Samarge, saying that games like tag "are organized to have a winner and a loser," which is simply a part of life.

"Self-esteem should not be imbedded in whether you win or lose a game," Young said.

Tamara Silver, a parent of a fifth-grader at Franklin Elementary School, said the school sent her two letters informing her of the new rules. The second letter cited safety concerns, not issues of self-image, to justify the tag ban.

"I want my child to know that he can have some freedom," Silver said. "I want my child to know he can play. I want my child to know that he can fall down and skin his knee."
In other words - she knows the issue is bogus, and wants her child to understand that the world won't coddle him.

It's interesting that they did a CYA second letter. Sounds like they're reaching, though, trying to find justification that doesn't sound stupid.

And failing... but what do I know, anyway?


Al Qaeda tied to intercepted phone calls
'Tomorrow is zero hour' in Arabic heard on September 10
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Messages intercepted by U.S. intelligence one day before the September 11 attacks came from telephone conversations between people in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, sources said Thursday.

The sources said that in two separate communications, people in Afghanistan believed connected to al Qaeda appeared to be notifying others in Saudi Arabia that major attacks were imminent against the United States.

It's always clear in retrospect that something is going to happen. Somehow, with all the shouting and such about "who knew what when", the dots still don't connect.


Finding the Speed of Light with Marshmallows-A Take-Home Lab

by Robert H. Stauffer, Jr., Cimarron-Memorial High School, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

I have heard that at 16 years old, Albert Einstein constantly wondered what it would be like to ride on a beam of light. Students in physics always seem to be fascinated by the properties of light. However, speed-of-light demonstrations often require extensive preparation or expensive equipment. I have prepared a simple classroom demonstration that the students can also use as a take-home lab.
Now this is the sort of thing that would have made a big impression on me in HS. And, lo these many years later, it still does.



Wednesday, June 19
Baby star hints at a planet’s birth
WASHINGTON, June 19 — Employing a worldwide battery of small telescopes over several years, astronomers have done something the Hubble Space Telescope can’t do: Peering deep into the disk of material around a newborn sunlike star, they detected what might be a developing planet. Further study of the system is expected to provide important insight into how and when planets are born around stars like our sun.
AAawww.... ain't it cute?

Kind of hard to see, though...


House panel endorses arming pilots
WASHINGTON, June 19 — Lawmakers moved closer to a confrontation with the Bush administration over guns in airplane cockpits as a House panel endorsed legislation that could arm more than 1,000 pilots in the next two years. The House Transportation Committee’s aviation subcommittee vote Wednesday runs counter to the administration’s decision last month not to allow the arming of pilots. Similar legislation also has been introduced in the Senate.
The thory that it's best to keep pilots defenseless went out on 9/11. Of course, any hijacker will likely be killed by the passengers - the 'gotta do what they say or they might hurt us so we'll cower' crowd has been definitively silenced.

Personally, I'm for arming pilots. And making sure that the hijackers KNOW the pilots are armed and ready to shoot. (Personally, I'm all for having the pilots hang their practice targets from their last range session on the cockpit doors. A nice, tight grouping would make me feel a lot better....)


Super-size meals mean super-size fat
June 18 — A few extra cents at the fast-food counter to super-size a meal can buy hundreds of extra calories and far more saturated fat, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity.
We go for what's fastest in the fast food line - and if it's a combo meal (supersized...) well, we know what we're getting.

We just don't think about it much.


Rocketeers hope to make history
June 18 — A group of rocketeers hope the next two weeks will put them in the history books with a vehicle that, if successful, would be the first amateur rocket shot into space.
Cross your fingers!

(Ummm... what kind of recovery equipment you got on that thing?)


Tuesday, June 18
Odd search engine...

I stumbled across Kartoo today - and... it's neat. Got a blog? See where you're linked. Got something to search for? This is the place.

Please note - I DO prefer Google for most searches - but this graphical search engine is just plain... neat.

Not to mention thought provoking...


Yahoo! News - Fire Closes Beijing Internet Cafes
BEIJING (AP) - Beijing officials have closed down the city's 2,400 Internet cafes after a fire at an unlicensed cafe killed 24 people, a move that could temporarily keep millions off the Internet.

While a city official in the Chinese capital said Monday that the move was motivated strictly by safety concerns following Sunday's fire, the closures coincide with a crackdown on Internet cafes nationwide meant to tighten Chinese government control of Web use.

The city official, who would give only his surname, Fan, said the shutdown was intended to give authorities a chance to do safety inspections. Many of Beijing's wildly popular Internet bars are smoky and crowded and are located in spaces not necessarily equipped to handle large numbers of people.
Wonder how many hard drives are going to be missing from the cafe computers after the 'safety inspections'...


Sunday, June 16
Evil on a Budget ... or, How to threaten the free world on fifty dollars a day
Part IV, getting that "high-tech" evil lair look, before you've robbed Fort Knox

Back in the good old days . . . er, bad old days, running an evil empire was a lot simpler: it was a lot easier (and cheaper) to find a remote and forbidding location to put a fortress from which to launch one's diabolical schemes, minions were relatively cheap and generally pretty reliable, and one could count on being able to support a moderate-sized campaign of world-threatening efforts from the returns of a reasonable investment portfolio, especially if one timed stock trades to coincide with relevant threats against humankind.

the popularity of rock climbing has eroded the privacy of mountain strongholdsOver the past few decades, the cost of effective villainy has skyrocketed, outpacing the Dow, the Consumer Price Index, and even health insurance. These days it's hard to find a secluded mountaintop or isolated island that hasn't already been covered with condos. All the really formidable-looking abandoned warehouses have been converted into high-priced lofts. And don't even think about finding a "fixer upper" castle for a reasonable price.
Hilarious bit on honing your evil scientist persona.



Soviet smallpox outbreak reported
WASHINGTON, June 15 — Experts said on Saturday they were worried by a leaked report that describes an outbreak of smallpox in the Soviet Union — one they say may point to the testing of a smallpox biological weapon.
Hate to say it, but this is REAL old news. I think I saw the first reference to it close to 20 years back. Of course, these days it's not surprising that someone goes "Oh! Bioweapon research! We gotta tell the public!"

Well, DUH! In 1971, the USSR was NOT our friend. Is it that surprising that they'd work on smallpox as a weapon? Also anthrax, and anything else they figured would be needed in the final battle against the evil forces of capitalism?

Man - some of these jerks need to learn history. Just because the USSR doesn't exist now, and we are in a fairly friendly relationship with Russia, doesn't mean it was always like that - and 30 year old news is 30 year old news.



I am the bastard child of mankind and technology. I take pride in my balance of intelligence and physical strength. I have capabilites neither common to the average human, nor implementable in the average machine. I am good with my hands, as well as my head. Spotting me in a crowd isn't hard, I'm the one with the quick wit and the light spirit. Still can't find me? Look for the robotic arm.

What's your superpower?



No Smallpox in Pakistan - it was Chickenpox, instead!
Rumours reported by the media of a cluster of smallpox cases in Swabi
district, Pakistan have been investigated by a team from National
Institute of Health (NIH), Islamabad, health officials from the North
West Frontier Province and WHO. All cases were children and showed
typical features of chickenpox. No evidence of smallpox was found.
Samples are being tested at NIH.

Outbreak Verification Team
Department of Communicable Disease
Surveillance and Response (CSR)
World Health Organization

[Many thanks to the WHO Outbreak Response Team for this very rapid
feedback on the rumor generated by a report in the Pakistan English
language newspaper Dawn. As mentioned earlier, it's an unfortunate
occurrence when these incorrect newswire reports are published as
with today's communication age, these rumors take on a life of their
own and result in significant unnecessary concern and fears. -


Friday, June 14 - Japan invites the masses to land on asteroid - June 14, 2002
(CNN) -- Want to land on an asteroid with a legion of fellow explorers? You can, thanks to a Japanese space mission that launches later this year. But the achievement will be in name only.
The Muses-C spacecraft, the first designed to visit a space rock and return to Earth with geological samples, is slated to depart in November or December.
The Planetary Society of Japan hopes that at least a million names from all over the world will go along for the ride. The group of space enthusiasts recently kicked off a campaign to collect names and will continue to do so until July 6.
Likely the closest I'll ever get to space travel... I put Aaron's name on the plates that were aboard the Mars Polar Lander when NASA had a web site open to do so, so his name is on Mars. Think I'll put the whole family on this one...

Talk about space cases...

Anyway, the place to register YOUR name(s) is right here. Enjoy.

J. | Metro | Miller backs McKinney's opponent
Georgia Sen. Zell Miller has contributed $1,000 to the opponent of Rep. Cynthia McKinney in her upcoming congressional race, according to news reports today.

WSB radio said Miller is supporting former state Judge Denise Majette in the Democratic primary. Miller appointed Majette to the post while he was governor.

The station said Miller refused to criticize McKinney's record in Congress but again disputed her claim that President Bush had advance notice of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Tempting thought - I may donate to Ms. Majette myself.


Thursday, June 13
S. Africa battles over Internet control
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, June 13 — In a battle brewing between South Africa’s government and those who fear government suppression of free speech, the administrator of the country’s Web addresses said Thursday he had hidden the key to the country’s “.ZA” domain network abroad.
Hero? Villain? Time will tell.

(Personally, my money's on 'Hero'.)


A distant cousin to Jupiter is found
The new planet orbits 55 Cancri at 5.5 astronomical units. One AU is the distance from Earth to the sun. Jupiter orbits at 5.2 AU. The same team had already spotted another planet around 55 Cancri, a world slightly less massive than Jupiter. It orbits so close to the star that it makes a complete orbit in just 14.6 days.
Marcy speculated that the two-planet system could harbor more intriguing worlds, possibly even rocky planets like Earth, known as terrestrials.
What an exciting time to live - in the 60's the race to the moon. Now, if we could only develop a decent interstellar drive (and all the attendant life support systems needed...)

Maybe Aaron will see it, or his children. Then again, maybe not. But I'm not going to be cynical on this one...


Wednesday, June 12 - U.S. Military Battles Environmentalists
U.S. armed forces are fighting what could be a prolonged battle, this one far from dangerous hotspots like Afghanistan or the Philippines.

This campaign involves the military’s struggle with environmental groups who believe the armed forces are among the biggest polluters in the country.

"We need the military to protect the nation … which means protecting the environment as well," said Andrea Durbin, a spokesman for the Greenpeace environmental group.
So, it's important that the military be limited in what they can do and how they can train so the environment is protected.

Protecting the environment has priority over protecting the country. (Of course, the Taliban were staunch environmentalists, too. They'd be glad to support these folks. And I hear Al Quaeda is very concerned over the plight of the Mojave Desert Tortoise, and want Marines to cease desert training so the tortoises don't get hurt.)



Science Toys
Make toys at home with common household materials, often in only a few minutes, that demonstrate fascinating scientific principles.
Neat, neat stuff. Especially the crystal radio and the laser transmitter. Also, check out the copper solar cell - not large enough to be useful, but neat anyway.


Tuesday, June 11
Smallpox? Maybe not.

Checked with a friend at the CDC who checked with the National Immunization Program folks, who confirm that World Health Organization and CDC folk are looking at the possibility of smallpox in Pakistan - and it looks more like chickenpox.


Not that chickenpox isn't a health threat on it's own - but it's rather like a candle against a kilowatt searchlight compared to the threat from smallpox.

For more info, check out the CDC's Smallpox home page here.

Again - whew. But I wonder how long we're going to be lucky...


Monday, June 10
SWABI: Smallpox epidemic spreading in Swabi -DAWN - Local; 09 June, 2002
SWABI, June 8: The smallpox epidemic is rapidly spreading in these parts of the province, but the district health department has failed to take any step to contain this deadly disease, Dawn learnt here on Saturday.

It has been reported from different parts of the Swabi district that a large number of children have suffered from smallpox, but the authorities concerned have failed to take any action to prevent this disease or immunize the people against it.

Smallpox is a fatal disease which causes high fever, leaves permanent marks on the skin and spreads very fast. Timely treatment and precautionary measures are vital for controlling this malady.

A health official said that the dilemma of the people was that they were not aware of the danger aspects of this ailment as the children suffering from it have neither been kept in isolation nor properly treated. And this resulted in the spread of the virus.
Does this give you the same chills it gives me? A friggin' SMALLPOX epidemic in Pakistan?


Where's the CDC? Where's the rest of the media? What's the reliability index of this particular newspaper?


Gods, I hope it's chickenpox or something. Measles. Maybe cowpox. But if it IS smallpox...

Man. I don't even want to think about it. I'll likely get immunized at the base, but Sue and Aaron...

Man. I'm gonna be watching this one...


The European Parliment's budgetary committee has temporarily suspended its financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the wake of a law
suit filed by an Israeli terror victim. The N.I.S. 100 million civil action,
filed in Tel-Aviv recently, alleges that the PA has diverted the European
Union's "humanitarian aid" to the Palestinian terrorist groups which are
responsible for the wave of suicide bombings and shootings in Israel.

While denying this contention, the European Union has now announced that it will not transfer any additional funds to the PA until it receives the results of an investigative report into how PA leader Yassir Arafat had utilized their money.
About damn time, if you ask me. Or are they just going to whitewash it and say "Yep, everything's okay and accounted for, including the Semtex and belts" and continue business as usual? (I mean, you gotta have belts to hold pants up, and the Semtex is useful for bombs - I mean DEMOLITION work, yeah, that's what I meant, ignore that B-word...)


Saturday, June 8
System Troubles

Don't know why, but the system's crawling tonight. Was okay earlier, may just be one of ATT Broadband's glitches. Things have been pretty good for the last 6+ months, so we'll see what tomorrow is like.

Went looking at houses today. Uuurgh. Even though we aren't serious, still major Uuurgh...


Friday, June 7
Shaolin Soccer
Shaolin Soccer - After soccer superstar "Golden Leg" Fung (Ng Man Tat) decides to take a "dishonor" check to lose an important soccer match, his career goes down the drain as the crowd rushes the field and beats and cripples Fung for his missed goal. Twenty years later, Fung is a lackey for evil soccer furor, Hung (Patrick Tse), who happens to not only used to be the teammate Fung picked on, but now a soccer legend and the chairman of the National Soccer League. Depressed and broken for his reversalof fortune and the particular truths he finds out about his accident, Fung walks the streets finding reasons to live. Fortunately, Fung stumbles upon Sing (Stephen Chow), a martial artists trying to find ways to bring Kung Fu into the mainstream. Aftermuch preparation and soul searching, Fung gathers Sing and his Shaolin brothers together to form a team like no other: a Kung Fu based soccer team. While Sing trains and battles it out Shaolin style in the soccer ring, he attempts to woo Mei (Vicki Zhao Wei's), a shy, charming but hideously-looking girl who uses her Tai Chi skills to make the damn best mantou (steamed bread) in the world.


Isn't the Internet ... ummm ... wonderful?


A Full Spectrum

The world of blogging ranges from lighthearted to damn serious. Some of the serious ones can bring a lump to your throat and tears to your eyes, or give you the feeling you're watching a slow motion train wreck that you KNOW is virtually inevitable but you can perhaps hope to turn aside with a few well-chosen words. Perhaps, as Spider Robinson says so well in his Callahan's Bar stories, "Shared pain is lessened, shared joy is increased."

I've been reading a very impressive blog, BorderlifeBlog, for the last couple of months. It's a journal of a young woman with borderline personality disorder as she works through it all. I am very impressed by her determination and bravery, and occasionally make what I hope are helpful comments. And it's funny that I find myself so drawn to her struggle - perhaps it's because I've had to deal with a lot of the same internal problems she is confronting. Only difference was, I got to deal with them over 20+ years - she has them all piled on at once, God help her. Because if ever someone needed Callahan's Place, this young woman does.

I mean, how do you deal with the weight of the world when it crashes down suddenly? How would I have dealt with all the things I've had to over the last 25+ years if they'd all hit when I was 18? God, just thinking about that year I spent with Ariann is enough to give me the shudders 20 years later. Not to mention all the failures I percieved in my own personality and actions, all the mistakes I made with people over the years, and dealing with results from hurried, faulty decisions from, oh, the time I was 15 or so... the episodes of depression, the thoughts of suicide. (Which, for those who read this and are concerned about the possibility, were almost 30 years back. None lately at all. Don't worry about it, ok?)

So I occasionally comment with what I hope will help, with some of the strategies I've developed to cope with similar situations, with encouraging words and (hopefully) inspirational and amusing stories about the stupidity of things I've caused myself and survived through. To let her know that there's someone out there who cares, who wants to give help without taking anything in return.

Sometimes, perhaps, it's enough for someone to validate your feelings - to go "Yeah, I know it's tough. Hang in there - it DOES get better." And that may be enough. It was for me, many years ago.

I hope it is for her, too.


Thursday, June 6
The National DDay Museum - New Orleans - Oral Histories
Oral History: Joseph Henry Esclavon
A crewmember on an LCT during the Normandy invasion, Esclavon gives the view from the high tide mark.

"It was just unbelievable, sitting here now, I can't hardly believe that this thing happened. Because my mind just got used to thinking about it since I've been making these tapes for you. I can remember things now that I thought I'd forgotten and sometimes I wish I would forget them. But then, people don't have that kind of luck all the time."

The National DDay Museum - New Orleans - Oral Histories
Oral History: Felix Branham
Felix Branham went ashore at in the second wave at Omaha Beach as a demolition man for the 29th Division. In this story he tells his experiences on the beach, losing his comrades and surviving.

I would say, "Ferrari, when you hit that beach and you fall, man, I'm going to be getting your wallet out." And another guy would say, "Yep, I'm going to have that ring of yours." And we sat around and thought about that, never thinking it would really happen. But what else did we have to talk about?

Then National D-Day Museum
What does the "D" in D-Day mean?

The answer, like many answers in the field of history, is not so simple. Disagreements between military historians and etymologists about the meaning of D-Day abound. Here are just two explanations:

In Stephen Ambrose's D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II, he writes,
"Time magazine reported on June 12 [1944] that "as far as the U.S. Army can determine, the first use of D for Day, H for Hour was in Field Order No. 8, of the First Army, A.E.F., issued on Sept. 20, 1918, which read, 'The First Army will attack at H-Hour on D-Day with the object of forcing the evacuation of the St. Mihiel salient.'" (p. 491)
In other words, the D in D-Day merely stands for Day. This coded designation was used for the day of any important invasion or military operation. For military planners (and later historians), the days before and after a D-Day were indicated using plus and minus signs: D-4 meant four days before a D-Day, while D+7 meant seven days after a D-Day.

In Paul Dickson's War Slang, he quotes Robert Hendrickson's Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins,
"Many explanations have been given for the meaning of D-Day, June 6, 1944, the day the Allies invaded Normandy from England during World War II. The Army has said that it is "simply an alliteration, as in H-Hour." Others say the first D in the word also stands for "day," the term a code designation. The French maintain the D means 'disembarkation,' still others say 'debarkation,' and the more poetic insist D-Day is short for 'day of decision.' When someone wrote to General Eisenhower in 1964 asking for an explanation, his executive assistant Brigadier General Robert Schultz answered: 'General Eisenhower asked me to respond to your letter. Be advised that any amphibious operation has a 'departed date'; therefore the shortened term 'D-Day' is used.'"
They strove and suceeded, though many died. Let us not forget them.


Wednesday, June 5
Bum Ankle Update

The dang thing aches. It itches, inside where I can't scratch. The bruising is going down, it no longer looks gangrenous. And the swelling is down - I can see the tendons when I curl my toes up.

All in all, things are proceeding. Two more weeks, and I'll be dancing the mazurka. Of course, it would help if I took lessons on how...

Have a nice night...


IMRA - Wednesday, June 5, 2002 Poll of Palestinians by PCPO May 24 - 30, 2002
Poll of Palestinians by PCPO May 24 - 30, 2002
Poll 98 June 5, 2002
Public Opinion Survey conducted by the PCPO

(58.3%) support holding legislative elections.

(61.5%) support freedom of media and speech.

(63.1%) trust the Palestinian Press and Media.

(72.5%) support changing the Palestinian government

(68.6%) support the restructuring of Palestinian Authority (PA).

(63.9%) support merging the different security services into one structure.

(51.9%) consider that the resignation of Nabil Amro, the Palestinian
Minister for parliamentary affairs is a step in the right direction.

(71.6%) believe in the significance of Civic Society Associations (CSO's) in upgrading and supervising the performance of the PA.

(45.3%) believe that Arafat's call for reformation was only to get out of a

(52.5%) believe that decisions made by the PA will remain in the hands of a limited number of people.

(51.2%) believe that the PA will benefit from past experience to run future affairs.

(67.0%) support Javier Solana's statements and calls on the PA to be more transparent, accountable and democratic.
Well, good luck to them. Reform in the PA would probably be best accomplished by killing off their leadership - but I ain't cynical.



Israeli tanks enter Ramallah
June 6 — Israeli armored vehicles entered the West Bank town of Ramallah early Thursday, surrounded Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s office and exchanged fire with Palestinian soldiers, witnesses said.
Arafat's lost control of his organization. Did they really expect a car-bomb detonated next to a bus would fail to anger the Israelis? Are they really so far gone they're thinking "The next bomb will do it, and make the Israeli people do what we want?"

It almost looks like it.


Reuters | The World's Leading Provider of Financial Information and News
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said on Wednesday that the U.S. government will fingerprint, photograph and register about 100,000 foreign visitors during the first year alone of an anti-terrorism effort that outraged lawmakers and Arab and immigration groups who say Middle Eastern men will be targeted.
I'm of two minds on this.

First, I've been fingerprinted. It's not an arduous process, and with advances in technology it shouldn't even be a problem to do it without ink. I don't have any problem requiring new immigrants and visitors to leave a copy of their fingerprints on file. Get everyone coming into the country to have valid ID and be fingerprinted, and it becomes a big 'So What?' from a discrimination standpoint.

Where I've got the problem is the Arabic groups and the folks pandering to them saying that it'll be used unfairly. The assumption is it WILL be used unfairly, because of their ethnic background.

My first thought was - "How many aircraft have been flown into skyscrapers intentionally in the last 25 years?" And the answer, I believe, is 2, 3 if you count the Pentagon. (It's not really a skyscraper, more like a ground-sprawler.) And that plane into the Italian skyscraper - I think they determined that to be pilot error.

My next thought was - "What was the ethnic group of the hijackers?" Answer: Arabic.

Then I read further:
Congressman John Conyers of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, denounced the system as employing racial and ethic profiling.

"Rather than helping to protect our citizens, these registration rules will only serve to further alienate the American Muslim community and our Muslim allies abroad, two crucial allies in our fight against terrorism," he said.

Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle told reporters he gets concerned "about the long arm of the federal government when it comes to taking actions like this that may or may not be helpful and certainly may be invasive."

The plan "smacks of the sort of tactics" used by totalitarian regimes like Iraq, said Frank Sharry, executive director of the National Immigration Forum.
Okay, can someone explain to me how it's reasonable we should IGNORE the fact that Al-Quaeda is Islamic/Arabic based, that the terrorists who bombed the WTC were Arabic, the hijackers who flew the planes into the WTC, the Pentagon, and took over Flight 93 were Arabic, and the guy who took the credit (Bin Laden) was Islamic & Arabic - can anyone explain WHY we should ignore this and drop the idea of fingerprinting and registration?

At this point, if Daschle says something negative about a way to increase security in the US, I'm really willing to look for the good in it. I am NOT willing to trust his judgement, or that of the syncophants that surround him.

Again - get everyone. Then no one can gripe. (The funny thing is, the ACLU is even saying it won't work and is discriminatory.)

Something's got to be done, and this is the best suggestion I've heard yet.


Monday, June 3 - Milky Way caught ripping up star cluster - June 3, 2002
The Milky Way galaxy has been caught in the act of shredding an ancient star cluster and leaving a tell-tale trail of stellar debris smeared across the sky, astronomers reported on Monday.
Scientists had suspected that galaxies like the Milky Way were capable of such violence against some of the oldest structures in the universe, but now they have evidence: an image of a track of scattered stars that appears to stretch the same distance as a line-up of 20 full moons.
I suppose Johnny Cochran is expecting a call...

Neat Stuff

Every so often you run across something that's almost as good as the advertizing hype that goes along with it.

Got two tonight... the first is a neat little product called "Catch A Bubble" by Spin Master Toys. A rather viscious goop, it make decent, long-lasting bubbles. In fact, we've got some on the back deck that have been whole for roughly 4 hours. I think the humidity is making them sticky, because they're rather hard to catch intact, but it can be done. It's neat, a bit more expensive than standard bubble liquids, but the endurance of the bubbles is worth it. It's very odd to watch a large group of the bubbles move around the side of the house... illustrating the airflow that you know is there.

Item 2 is for the more accident-prone among us. Don't know about you, but having a 4-year-old around brings on an urge to buy stock in Band-Aid, Inc. They've got a VERY neat product for skinned knees and such other cuts that we're all vulnerable to - their new Liquid Bandage, which looks to be a variant of surgical superglue, which needs a catalyst (which I think is in dry form in the applicator sponge tips) to activate it and seal things up. And seal it does - Aaron skinned his knee Saturday, and it's healing fine with one application of the stuff so far. It's not thick, and it doesn't provide any protection against re-injury, but it DOES stop bleeding and it seems to last like crazy.

Ah, the wonders of modern technology...


Saturday, June 1
Movies X 2

Last night Sue and I went to see a rare double-feature. Her sister took care of Aaron, and we snuck out to see Attack of the Clones and Sum of All Fears. We don't hit movies often, so we made a night of it and spent darn near as much at the concession stand as we did for the tickets, and had a fine time.

Ratings are as follows - (as if you're going to go by MY opinon whether to see them or not...)

Sum of All Fears: On a 1 to 10 scale, I'd rate it right at 9.5.

Pacing: 10
Humor: 10
Seriousness: 10
Meanness of the Bad Guys: 9
Heroism of the Heros: 10
Action: 10
Adventure: 9
Romance: 9
Special Effects: 9.5
Explosions: 10
Character Personalities: 10
Movie Physics: 8.5

This one didn't take itself too seriously, but was serious when appropriate. Pacing was perfect, suspense and drama mingling with humor. Only one thing I didn't much care for, and it's a minor movie quibble - one character was shown as having radiation poisioning from simply touching a warhead - but I've long since given up expecting accuracy where things like this are concerned. The nuclear weapon construction was reasonably accurate (again, considering limits of movie accuracy, but the parts shown weren't anywhere near the tolerances I understand are normal) and the explosion effects were pretty well displayed without overdramatization. They even got the bumpiness right during a mid-air refueling sequence, and Air Force 1 was a flying command post with some office space instead of the flying palace with a little bit of com gear seen in previous Clancy films.

(One thing I was grateful for - it seems to be a cinematic staple that if you've got a nuclear weapon you have to spend at least ten minutes showing suspenseful scenes with countdown timers, the explosion, and then the explosion from five different viewpoints and the results from at least 10. This was more like a "Boom" - and then direct to the aftermath. Rather refreshing, in a depressing sort of way.)

I won't go onto the plot here - if you've read the book you'll know it, but it's a bit different than the book. Go. View. Enjoy.

Overall, this one we'll get for the DVD library when it comes out.

Attack of the Clones: This one rates right at about a 6. It was good, but it wasn't that good.
Pacing: 7
Humor: 8
Seriousness: 8
Meanness of the Bad Guys:10
Heroism of the Heros: 10
Action: 8
Adventure: 9
Romance: 9
Special Effects: 10
Jedi Combat Tactics: 2
Explosions: 8
Character Personalities: 6
Movie Physics: 5

Overall, this one's an 'Eh.' There are parts that are very good, there are parts that just plain didn't work for me. The chase scenes on Coruscant were pretty good, the fight scenes were well choreographed, the special effects were pretty well seamless. And the film's got about all the charm in the long run of a McDonald's hamburger. It's food for the franchise, but that's about it.

What did work: The romance, oddly enough. Annakin & Padme are obviously both smitten, but neither has a clue as far as relating to the other gender goes. It doesn't hurt that Natalie Portman is small, shapely, and very pretty (and has a costumer that knows how & what to emphasize - I could just wish that women these days dressed like she does) - you can smell the hormones buzzing in Annakin's brain, clouding his judgement. He's 18. You can tell. (Thankfully, Padme never said "Is that a light saber in your pants, or are you just glad to see me?") And (in all honesty) I wouldn't be that age again for all the world, even WITH Natalie Portman as my girlfriend. But hey - I ain't blind.

Also, the special effects worked. They were seamless, but I'm going to admit that I'm not all that thrilled with the idea that a movie is all just special effects. I want to see ingenuity and detail - not just spectacle. (For example, I recently picked up a DVD set of the "Thunderbirds", Marionette-Animation from the '60s. The level of detail, when you consider that it was all done with puppets and physical models, is tremendous. Sure, it's cheesy and you can see the puppet wires, but it's a labor of love and it shows. Attack of the Clones - well, it's glossy and glittery, but it was kind of ... sterile. A lot of work went into it, but I didn't feel much emotion.)

And Yoda kicked butt. Boy, those battle-endorphins got him zippin'.

What didn't work: The mass battle with the Jedis vs. the Droids. Guess I expected the Jedi to behave with a fair amount of combat discipline and common sense - and they didn't. Their idea of fighting is just like the samuri of Japan - Go into battle bravely, find a foe, slice off parts till enemy is dead, stop and pant, find the next foe, repeat until dead or no foes remain. And they got slaughtered, pretty much as the Japanese army in WW2 (which was still adhering fairly closely to the Bushido code) got killed by the US Army, which used group tactics instead of berserker battle heroism. Instead of dozens of Jedi getting killed, I'd much prefer to have seen them form up in lines or squares, with three Jedi bouncing back blaster bolts and 4 Jedi slicing & dicing - the equivalent of sword and shield work. But it's supposedly been a thousand years since an army was needed - perhaps it's not too surprising that they don't know small unit tactics. (I swear, I think the local SCA group would be able to put together fighters that knew what to do better...)

Overall? Eh. See it if you want to. We'll probably get it on DVD, there were some fun chases in it, but it wasn't that satisfying. It'll make a mint, though. It is, after all, Star Wars.