Friday, March 30, 2007

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Surprise, surprise

You Are Guinness

You know beer well, and you'll only drink the best beers in the world.
Watered down beers disgust you, as do the people who drink them.
When you drink, you tend to become a bit of a know it all - especially about subjects you don't know well.
But your friends tolerate your drunken ways, because you introduce them to the best beers around.

I do like Guinness, actually, although after spending a lot of years in Portland, I've developed a taste for microbrews like Terminator Stout. Alas, I live in a place that has no microbreweries. A/T to Miss Cellania, who doesn't like beer but nevertheless is just as refreshing and flavorful as the finest ale.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Still watching Iran

An interesting money quote on the British sailors and Royal Marines being held in Iran:
A Web site run by Mohsen Rezaei, secretary of the Expediency Council and a former Revolutionary Guard commander, quoted an unidentified lawmaker as saying, “If Iranian diplomats in Iraq have no security, there’s no reason why we should forgive and turn a blind eye to aggressors into Iranian territories.”

No reason? I beg to differ.

The UK has gotten a lot less aggressive since its empire grew up and moved away, but it still seems unwise to cheese them off this way. Especially when they're already stationed in the Persian Gulf.

Why carrying a gun is the civilized choice

Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that's it.

In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force. The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gangbanger, and a single gay guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

I have one firearm at home, and it's a little .22 single-shot that my uncle taught me to shoot when I was a kid. It's currently dismantled and the pieces stored in various parts of the house. That's as it should be; having a functioning gun in the same home with Hypertot would be an abjectly stupid thing to do. Nevertheless, I agree wholeheartedly with Marko on this. In an unarmed society, the weak are simply prey for the strong, and all the demonstrations and candlelight vigils won't make the world as safe a pllace as a single bullet can.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Barista rant

I don't go to Starbucks very often (too expensive for me), but the next time I do, I'm going to be very, very nice to the kid behind the counter. For all I know, this one (Language alert) may work at one of the stores here in town. Not that I blame him much, but anybody who works behind a retail counter needs to get used to annoying customers.

Happy birthday, Calvin!

He probably won't see this (at least not until he comes here for Holy Week), but I thought I should mention that it's my son Calvin's eleventh birthday. He's a great kid, and I'm proud as hell of him. And as you can see, he's a good-looking devil as well.

Gotta love that bureaucracy

After all the money they've poured into the badly-needed expansion of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, our DOT officials have figured out a new way to shoot themselves in the foot:
An oversized expansion joint for a Tacoma bridge project made it more than 1,300 miles before being stopped at a weigh station on the Washington border because the Washington State Patrol said it's too heavy for its trailer.

State Department of Transportation officials looked for ways Friday to send the 73-foot expansion joint the final 300 miles to its destination to help complete the second span across the Tacoma Narrows. It has been sidelined on its custom-built trailer since Saturday at the Spokane Port of Entry on Interstate 90 just west of the Idaho border after tipping the scales at 330,000 pounds.

I really like the quote from the trucking company:
"We're open to suggestions," [owner Mike] Love said. "What I've told them is, 'We'll do this any way we can. If it's impossible then it's real easy; y'all can build the bridge in Idaho.'"

Another engineering marvel from the state government that brought you Galloping Gertie. Way to budget my taxes, guys.

We few, we happy few

We band of lawsuit-happy ex-hippie has-beens with deep-fried brains and talent that hasn't been tapped in almost three decades.

It's sad to see them have come to this. I think I'll go home and put on Surrealistic Pillow and dream of what was.

A little excitement at my kids' school

There are certain things you simply don't do in this town. Among other things, you don't insult Mormons (who make up about a fourth of the population here), and you never, never get a snootful, storm the school cafeteria, and shout obscenities until you have to be flung off the premises bodily. Especially not if you're a teacher on the payroll. Jackass.

Update: Looking at the comments on the second story, Pastor Paul points out a certain... shall we say, discrepancy, in spelling skills between Lyman's supporters and those of the administration. I've had three kids at that high school myself, and they can all punctuate and capitalize, so the subliterate Lyman-ites have no excuse.

Correct me if I'm wrong...

... but didn't we end up in a war with England after they pulled something like this on us? And almost again when we did it to them? This may be the incident that triggers an invasion of Iran.

I'm no huge fan of war (I've never been in one, but my dad died from the last one we lost), but it seems to me that Iran is angling for one, and I'd for damn sure rather settle them before they get a bomb than after.

Because it's Friday...

...and it's an odd-numbered day (which is when I act like a misogynist) and because I'm full of attitude today, and, well, just for the heck of it:
A boy asked his mother the following question: "Mom, why are wedding dresses white?"

The mother looks at her son and replies, "Son, this shows your friends and relatives that your bride is pure."

The boy thanks his mom and goes off to double-check this with his father. "Dad why are wedding dresses white?"

The father looks at his son in surprise and says, "Son, all household appliances come in white."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Age cannot wither her

I just discovered Olive, who at 107 is probably the oldest person in the blogosphere. She's been present at events that the rest of us only know from history books, if even that. Check out her blog (or "blob" as she calls it).

I'd love to see more people her age share what they know in blogs. The older I get, the more people pass on whose memories and wisdom I wish I'd absorbed. I hope Olive blogs for another 107 years.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

An envelope of medals

Eric at Is That Legal has been searching for several years for any trace of his great-uncle, who – like so many – went into a German death camp and never came back out. (There's some back story here.)

Well, he found something that puts a lump in the throat of this total stranger:
I reached in and pulled out two small packages, each perhaps the size of a large pack of chewing gum. They were pieces of thin cardboard that had been folded in thirds and then in thirds again, to enclose something. I unfolded one and out tumbled something solid, wrapped in blue onion-skin paper.

It was a medal.

I opened the other package. A second, identical medal, but without the ribbon.

These were the medals my great-uncle received for his military service and his injuries in World War I.

I held one in my hand, and as I realized that I was holding something that my great-uncle had held, my eyes filled with tears. I cried very softly – I was in a public space, and felt self-conscious. But I was not prepared for this – for the possibility that I might come upon even one of his belongings, let alone one that would have been so meaningful to him.

It was only later that I figured out how the medals came to be in the file. Leopold must have brought them with him when he was forced from his home in Bad Kissingen to the site in Würzburg from which he would be deported. Even at that late date – April 25, 1942 – he must have maintained a desperate hope that his military service in World War I might protect him from what lay ahead. These medals (and his useless left arm) were his proof of that service, the only protection that he had left.

But it was a vain hope. The Gestapo seized the medals, wrapped them up neatly in thin folded cardboard for me to find sixty-five years later, and sent Leo off to his fate.

Go read the whole thing.

Monday, March 19, 2007

A long-promised review

I promised Mike Barrett I'd review his new book, The Danger Habit , some weeks ago when he sent me a copy. I've been running under the whip a lot since then, and I beg pardon for taking so long. Here's the promised review (along with more personal information than you ever wanted):

This is a tough book to review, because it's hard to explain why it should make such an impression on me. I'm not a surfer, or a rock climber, or one of those guys that spin a skateboard off into the stratosphere to see how few bones they can leave unbroken. I'm terrified of heights, and even getting me on an airplane requires two bourbons and a rosary. I swim in a nice calm lake and my fishing boat is pedal-powered. I have a motorcycle, but it's a little bitty riceburner barely capable of highway speeds, not the sort of roaring mid-life-crisis crotch-rocket a true adventurer would ride. I am, in short, a sit-at-home-in-safety type, a long, skinny hobbit. So at first, reading The Danger Habit reminded me of a manatee reading a book on how to be a better cheetah.

What I hadn't counted on was the varied nature of risk addiction. While it's true that I've never been inclined to climb every mountain (at least since I was old enough to realize what would happen if I fell), there's a lot more to risky behavior than mere danger of physical injury. Some people are compulsive gamblers, risking everything on a throw of the dice or a bare-bones business start-up. Some are compulsive womanizers, slipping out of bedroom windows ahead of one angry husband after another. One is in search of money, another is in search of nookie... there are endless ends for which the means is risk. And one of those that Mike mentions is high-risk relationships. That's where I relate. Much of my relationship history has been, in a word, stoopid. I don't just mean "stupid." I mean stoo-oo-pid.

The story: I've never made any secret that I've been divorced. The marriage was made at an early age under the compulsion of pregnancy, so it wasn't hard for the Church to find it invalid. But the four years I spent being, honestly, not a terribly good husband, set the stage for a lot of years spent chasing a dream of stability. If you've ever been through a divorce (even one that anybody could have seen coming a mile away), you know the feeling that follows it: like Alice falling perpetually down the rabbit hole. And as desperately as the gambler chases his money, and the philanderer chases sex, I chased security.

My favorite verse in the Bible is Micah 4:4, which says, "But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid." Pretty weird verse for a risk-fool to hold dear. But that was a promise I held on to like a leech on a swimmer. I had custody of our daughter (then four years old), which made the need for security more urgent. I went in search of a life in which I could raise her without the insecurities that a child of divorce always has.

For the next ten years, I went through relationships that I thought would bring stability to me and my daughter. Every time I thought I had found myself a wife and her a mother-figure, it would sour and we wound up worse off than before. In the process, she learned that people are temporary and kids are just adjuncts to their parents. It was exactly the opposite of what I was looking for. That vine and fig tree were farther away than ever.

What I was doing, really, was gambling. I kept thinking that if I just took this one chance, if I just went out on this limb, it would all pay off and I would reach a safe emotional haven. Of course, it never worked that way. And naturally, every time I lost, I figured the solution was to gamble a little bit more. We all know what happens when you do that, don't we?

I also had let my faith disintegrate. By the time the Lord pulled me into the Catholic Church (which is a whole 'nother story), I had grown really adept at fooling myself. At the time, I tended to lump church in with the other trappings of stability. In other words, God was a means to an end.

As I went through the RCIA program (or as I called it, PIT – Papists in Training), I began to find that God was calling me back to Him, not so He could set me up with a worry-free life, but so that I could quit looking for one. I found myself doing a lot less stupid stuff. By the time I met Christina (in a Catholic chatroom), I wasn't looking for a relationship to make me stable. I had stopped chasing stability and more or less resigned myself to a disorganized, off-the-cuff life. Strangely, my daughter was better off than she had ever been, and I was beginning to be a significant part of my son's (from one of those failed relationships) life.

This is where I found myself identifying with Mike in The Danger Habit. (You'd forgotten that was what this was all about, hadn't you?) I may not jump off bridges attached to a huge rubber band, but I've said "I love you" to women I really wanted to believe I did, just so they wouldn't leave. I don't climb cliffs, but I've stood on an emotional precipice, hoping that if I fell, somebody would catch me. Ironically, nothing I've done has been riskier than my search for safety. Today, I'm sitting under my vine and fig tree, but it was a long, needlessly dangerous road to get there, and it left me and my kids with a lot of wreckage to clean up.

Jesus said that whoever would save his life must lose it, which is a really scary principle to put into action. It's also important to remember that giving up a life, or an aspect of your life, is not something to be wasted. That's part of where Mike is going in The Danger Habit. Birds gotta swim, fish gotta fly, and adrenaline junkies gotta take chances. The difference, for the extreme sort who also wants to serve the Lord, lies in the stakes. Fr. Damien is my favorite example, but you can see the same willingness to put it all on the line in the lives of Joan of Arc, Thomas More, even Martin Luther. None of those people hid in the shadows, but none of their gambles was wasted, either.

Mike does an excellent job of painting a portrait of this kind of Christian. If you haven't bought this book (and chances are you haven't), you should. Even if you're a safety-clinging hobbit like me, read The Danger Habit and see what God can do with a life that's put on the line.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Sure, buddy. Su-u-u-re it was.

Update: Apparently, it's not as wild as it sounded. "Unicorn" is kind of proseutorial jargon for a mystery person that nobody saw. Way to ruin a perfectly good headline, folks!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Monday, March 12, 2007

"Honey, don't forget to pick up bread and milk on your way home."

Bizarre. As well as sick and wrong, but that part goes without saying.

A/T to Jim Romanesko.

My deadly sin index

Actually, judging from the quiz questions, I think this makes me not so much godly as just boring. But I'll take it anyway.

Greed:Very Low
Gluttony:Very Low
Envy:Very Low
Lust:Very Low
Pride:Very Low

The Seven Deadly Sins Quiz on

Are you free, Mr. Humphries?

Not free, not cheap, but very dear. And now, alas, gone.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

'Teens accused over flaccid ostrich'

How often do you see a headline like that?
Three teenagers in Germany are being sued by a farmer who claims that their shenanigans made his ostrich impotent...

The rest is here.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Just got tickets to see Peter Kreeft this weekend. It's hard to believe a speaker of his caliber is coming to our little podunk town, but it's true.

I had to buy the tickets from an institution that I swore would never see another nickel of my money, but to see Kreeft, I'll live with the bad taste in my mouth. This is gonna be great.

Ain't love grand?

When she promised "till death do us part," I think she meant longer than just that afternoon. (No injuries, fortunately.)

"Bourbons on the rocks"

I get a real kick out of stories like this. Appeals to the romantic history buff in me.
"If I am right - and I don't have absolute proof, but I completely believe in my theory - then Balthazar Bourbon would be the eldest in the line," [Prince Michael of Greece] told the Guardian.

"This is the cherry on the cake. Mr Bourbon is head of a decent, dignified, middle-class Indian family. They look so Indian and yet bear this name. When you look at them, it seems incredible. The more unbelievable it is, the more I believe in it."

He said several of his royal relatives in Spain and France were "quite excited and thrilled to have found a new branch". He was in favour of a DNA test, perhaps from a surviving lock of Bourbon hair, to establish the facts.

From his home in the Bhopal suburbs, Mr Bourbon, 48, said he would be glad to take a DNA test, but remained stoical about the "hypothetical question" of whether he was heir to the throne. Conscious of the bloody outcome for royals in France, he felt royal status could bring "trouble", not to mention questions from skeptical historians.

Still, he has long had a brass plaque above his front door reading "House of Bourbon" with the fleur-de-lis crest of the French monarchy. His wife runs the neighbouring school for local children, called the Bourbon school. The family is Catholic and keeps Bourbon relics, including a sword, in their home. He said he felt "a sense of pride" when contemplating the picture of Versailles on his wall.

But he is aware that his family's fortunes waned in Bhopal long ago. He describes the Indian branch of the family as Bourbons on the rocks.

I sure hope we get to find out the results of the DNA test. I suppose it's not terribly significant; legitimism isn't really a political force these days. But it's fascinating nonetheless. A/T to the Whapsters.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I kind of expected this

If my Lovely and Brilliant Wife was Myrna Loy, I don't guess I could be anybody else. From what I can tell, William Powell was a gent off screen as well.Besides being the last love of the unhappy Jean Harlow, he starred in one of my favorite romantic films, One Way Passage. See it if you ever get the chance; it's a sniffle-fest.

You scored 11% Tough, 38% Roguish, 14% Friendly, and 38% Charming!
William Powell

You are the classic rogue, a stylish rake with the devil of a wit and a flair for mischief, and you shake your martinis to waltz time. You are charming and debonair, but slightly untrustworthy, and women should be on their guard. If married, you are simply a bit of a flirt, even if it's just with your own wife...but if you're single, watch out. You usually rein yourself in to concentrate on one lovely beauty at a time, but with you, we never know. You're an inviting partner, but there's a playful devil behind your eyes, and those trying to get close to you should know they're playing with fire. You're stylish and fun, but you follow your own course, which may or may not include a steady gal. Co-stars include Myrna Loy and Carole Lombard, classy ladies with an adventurous streak.

Find out what kind of classic dame you'd make by taking the
Classic Dames Test.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Tough
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Roguish
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Friendly
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Charming

Link: The Classic Leading Man Test written by gidgetgoes on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Promises, promises

I just finished Mike Barrett's book The Danger Habit today. I don't really have time for a complete review, but I'll try to get one up tomorrow. I can say, though, that it's an excellent read, and struck chords in me that I didn't expect.

Love, honor, cherish... Nope! That one's not there.

Whaddaya know? Women aren't only good for one thing. Seems they have other uses as well.

(Gee, I hope the living room couch is as comfy as it looks. I expect to be spending a while there.)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Things that make priests roll their eyes

I could so easily see my kids doing something like this:
Well my 2 youngest are making First Communion and we were going over the ceremony with them. When we got to the place where the priest does the Holy water sprinkling they both jumped up and (In a deep low voice) began intoning "IT BURNS, IT BURNS.........

I'm figguring the entire family will be excomunicated the day after their communion.

Swiped from The Enforcer's Notebook.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Doug is back!

He's got a new series started on "core values" over at Illuminations. Check thou it out.

Boys really will be boys

A difficult story to read; I kept wincing. Seems a couple of high school boys were about ready to go out on the field, and one of them "cup checked" another. The kid wasn't wearing his cup, and may lose a nut as a result.
According to the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department, a 17-year-old Ponderosa junior performed a "cup check" on his 14-year-old freshman teammate following a snowboard team competition at Sierra-at-Tahoe on Feb. 12.

"They do this thing called the 'cup check,' " said sheriff's Lt. Kevin House. "It's this small group of guys that does it to one another."

A common sports gag, a cup check involves striking a teammate's groin, ostensibly to determine if he is wearing a protective cup.

In this case, the freshman was not and, according to the sheriff's report, fell to his knees in pain...

Sometime later, the boy complained to his mother of pain, House said. On Feb. 19, after she noticed her son wincing when he sneezed, she took him to a doctor, who sent him to the emergency room.

There, according to investigators, he was told he had internal bleeding and an infection, and that he could lose one or both of his testicles.

Now, as a parent (and worse, as a man), this really bothers me. It's really easy for something like this to happen, as boys are hard-wired for roughhousing. (Which is why they're playing sports to begin with.) Teenage boys are not known for their restraint and foresight. It sounds like the cup-checking thing had been going on for a long time, and that there was no real malice in it, and nobody had been injured so far.

I really hope the kid comes out all right, and I'll bet that Mr. Cup Check does, too. I also hope the older kid doesn't wind up on charges over it. We all know what happens next once the authorities get hold of it. The boys will be given sensitivity training and taught how to play with dolls. Rather than getting some sort of a healthy outlet for their male energy, the boys will be once again told how bad it is to have any. And rather than one boy injured in the stones, the whole lot of them will be required to surrender theirs.

Kelo vs. Legos

Teaching schoolkids about the evils of private property. Sleep well, parents.

Mark Shea, in Seattle, calls it a reason to homeschool. I differ; I call it yet another reason why eastern Washington needs to dump Olympia and have our own state. Now. Before this sort of cancer spreads.

Waiting for the storm

I can just imagine the scramble among gay commentators to try to show that Charlene Cothran has always been a self-hater and worthy neither to be called a lesbian nor black. Starting here, it looks like.