Sunday, October 30, 2005

It's Defeat Time in Tennessee!

Normally, college football isn't something I get particularly excited about, unless I'm over at a friend's cheering for whoever he isn't. That being said, I do have a few teams that I like in the NCAA, and "Wherever Spurrier Is" is one of them. It necessarily follows that the Tennessee Volunteers are one of my favorite college football punching bags. Therefore, I am pleased to note that Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks triumphed in Knoxville last night, defeating Phillip Fulmer's Tennessee Volunteers by a score of 16-15. As the Ol' Ball Coach put it, "God is smiling on the Gamecocks". That's a tame remark for a man who once cracked that, "You can't spell Citrus [Bowl] without 'U-T'" or who dubbed in-State rival Florida State University the "Free Shoes University", after FSU players were found to have accepted free shoes from some unauthorized party. Nevertheless, Spurrier's wise-acre remarks regarding opposing schools are either the stuff of celebration or the justification of blood oaths sworn at midnight. As for me, I'm always happy to hear him mock the other team, especially when it reduces dyed-in-the-wool alumni to vein-popping rage. (That being said, it can be a very lonely place in a sports bar near the Tennessee border when you're one of about three people cheering for Florida...) Congratulations to the Gamecocks, a harsh 'ha ha' to the Volunteers, and three cheers for Stephen Orr Spurrier. I'm betting that Laurin Manning will be pleased. --- Addendum: Too bad I live in Virginia and have no cognizable ties to the University of South Carolina, or I'd probably have a USC hat by now. That is, if they'd make one that said something other than what most of the ones I've seen do. Perhaps this one, even though it's not that generic white that I used to like.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Signal the Fearless: Best Speed to Basilisk Station

Back when I was in college, I read a lot of David Weber's space opera novels centering on the adventures of one H.S. Harrington, a commander in the "Royal Manticoran Navy". Put very simply, the RMN is defending its political sponsor, the Star Kingdom of Manticore, against the People's Republic of Haven, in a world that (very) roughly approximates the world of the early nineteenth century, only shifted forward a few dozen centuries or so. Horatio Hornblower in deep space, if you will. The novels got overly formulaic as they went on---right up there with Bernard Cornwell's Richard Sharpe novels---and I grew tired of the attitude Weber took towards the lead character.1 However, I greatly enjoyed the early novels---usually the ones with the golden covers in paperback, except for the one about dueling---and often wondered if anyone would ever make a game for the kinds of starship combat seen there. The short answer is, "Yes, Virginia; there is a Weber-based wargame." Ad Astra Games have produced The Saganami Island Tactical Simulator, and it's been on the market for a few months. I was really hoping that the thing was for a Windows-based platform, until I read it closely and saw that it was, horrors of horrors, a tabletop game. Don't get me wrong: Tabletop gaming is something that has a long pedigree, with good games from the likes of Avalon Hill, Steve Jackson Games, and the odd TSR release. Heck, even the United Federation of Planets got in on the tabletop wargaming action with the Star Fleet Battles product line. Lots of fun with friends for hours as you move little metal things around on a board, yar. Herein lies the rub: I've never managed to talk any of my friends into anything like this. One batch of friends I had was close, but they wanted to play Dungeons & Dragons. I managed to sit through one session of that, all the while wanting to scream something on the order of "SAVE VERSUS THIS, YOU SOB!"2 Every other pack of friends has been more interested in the football game on the TV, drinking themselves into oblivion, conspicuous consumption, or political power. Meanwhile, your friendly neighborhood frustrated Reinhard Scheer never got to refight Jutland, save the Bismarck, or annihilate a Yamato-class battleship with a Montana-class battleship. Bother! All that aside, I wish I could con someone around here into playing this with me, 'cause this game sure looks fun. Buckets o'dice and a bloodbath in deep space; what more can you ask for? (Well, other than a "Harrington Eyepatch +5 and Telepathic Hexapedal Cat which make one's rolls virtually invincible...) Maybe someone'll put it to pixels someday, like the Harpoon series of games. (And maybe I'll again cringe like I used to when I'd hear the call of "Vampire! Vampire!") My route to discover all this information was long and circuitous, kinda like the route of the New York, Ontario & Western Railway. However, here it goes in order to give proper credit: JohnL of TexasBestGrok had a post on a new pipe organ in France. I readily admit being a sucker for pipe organs, despite the fact that I'm hideously untrained in anything like their use or a sophisticated appreciation of their music. It goes without saying that Pipedreams is one of the reasons I like the public radio genre. From there, it was off to A Sweet, Familiar Dissonance. I scanned down from the article on the organ to read this, which caught my eye for the same reason that the mentioned site caught hers. (This was before I knew it referred to something by Joss Whedon...) Anyways, I wind up at last at The Eternal Golden Braid, and a read down the page gives me notice of a new Harrington book. Not that I'll buy it, but I must say that it's sparked an interest in going back and reading about the Horrible Hemphill---who I always figured must've been a bit of a babe---and the other goings on out Manticore way. Oddly enough, I wound up being more interested in a bunch of PRH officers, namely Thomas Theisman, Lester Tourville, and probably the only literary crush I've ever had, Citizen Commander Shannon Foraker. "Oops", indeed. --- 1 See here for earlier remarks by me regarding Mr. Cornwell's formula. With regards to Mr. Weber's handling of the character, it started to sound like a John McCain press release: "Those who agree with me on the correct war action march with the titans of history as the greatest warriors ever to take to space. Those who oppose me, regardless of the merits of their case, are craven pigs who are obviously out to destroy H.S. Harrington..." 2 This was, of course, long before I knew that "Jesus saves; all others take damage".

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Essential SF Movie Canon Meme

Stolen from TexasBestGrok is the topic of the latest post. Read his post for further details, and keep him in your bookmarks. FYI: The movies that I've seen are in bold. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension! Akira Alien Aliens Alphaville Back to the Future Blade Runner Brazil Bride of Frankenstein Brother From Another Planet A Clockwork Orange Close Encounters of the Third Kind Contact The Damned Destination Moon The Day The Earth Stood Still Delicatessen Escape From New York ET: The Extraterrestrial Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers (serial) The Fly Forbidden Planet Ghost in the Shell Gojira/Godzilla The Incredibles Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 version) Jurassic Park Mad Max 2/The Road Warrior The Matrix Metropolis On the Beach Planet of the Apes (1968 version) Robocop Sleeper Solaris (1972 version) Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back The Stepford Wives Superman Terminator 2: Judgement Day The Thing From Another World Things to Come Tron 12 Monkeys 28 Days Later 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea 2001: A Space Odyssey La Voyage Dans la Lune War of the Worlds (1953 version) Hmm. That's not too good a percentage. I suppose there's no room in the list for the cinematic iterations of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Battlestar Galactica, or some of the other stuff I've seen. For my money, 2010 surpasses 2001 in watchability and interesting quality. Contact seems to be one of these films that you either like or you don't, depending upon your attitude towards Jodie Foster. I read the book before I saw the movie, and it helped a lot, despite Carl Sagan's preachiness and self-righteous attitude against anyone who dared voice dissenting opinions. RoboCop is one of my all-time favorite movies---Dick Jones 2008!---and Aliens is probably one of the most quotable flicks I've ever seen. Hudson's one of the best cinema soldiers around. "Game over, man!"

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Two Year Blogiversary

Today is the two year anniversary of my start into the blogging world. "I'm not dead!" Rather, I'm just on hiatus, like a television show. As a railway might put it, yours truly has been in revenue service recently and is up to his gills in work. I don't very much care for the situation, but the demands of various financial commitments must, of course, come first. I have several things up my sleeve for service enhancements and the like, because this publication (such as it is) is like the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway in that it is "For Progress". (And that's about the only favorable mention I'll give Virginia's other railroad. Anything Chessie did, Roanoke could do better. Nyah!) Ahem. I would like to thank all those who have maintained me on their blogrolls despite my long absence from the scene.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


It goes without saying that the thoughts and prayers of this publication are with the citizens of the City of London at this point in time, due to this. Hopefully the SAS are planning some sort of retaliatory strike even now. I look forward to the day when the name of bin Laden and his al-Qaeda are but footnotes to history, dimly remembered problems from the early part of the century. NB: John Podhoretz, have you no shame? A bunch of savages bloody the nose of the Mother Country and you want to blow about how great you think George W. Bush is. As Joseph Welch once put it, "Have you no sense of decency, sir?" UPDATE: Courtesy of KJL@NROC, the oddly-named (for a Democrat!) Bull Moose suggests that the Union Jack be displayed, for we are all Britons now. I wholeheartedly concur. Without further ado:

Monday, June 27, 2005

Yet Another Death in the Hundred Acre Wood

Well, blast. The IMDB is reporting, confirmed by Kathryn Jean Lopez, that the voice actor for Tigger has died. Mr. Paul Winchell was 82. Last month, the voice of Eeyore, Mr. Thurl Ravenscroft, died at the age of 81. As Winnie-the-Pooh himself would put it, "Bother!"

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Morning Report

The delivery of the morning report for the Pennsylvania Railroad, at its headquarters in Philadelphia, was always an Important Thing. Well, I'm not the PRR, this ain't Philadelphia, and what I'm about to say ain't important, but here goes: -Sheila O'Malley provides advance notice that Bewitched is not a good film. Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil. Accentuate the positive---Nicole Kidman---and eliminate the negative, i.e. Will Ferrell. It can't be as bad as The Stepford Wives. Sheila's also got a nice article on Harriet the Spy, another one of those "books from your youth" that probably would stand up to reading as an adult. Careful when you read Ms. O'Malley's description of Rosie O'Donnell; I nearly choked on Corn Pops when I read it. -Does anyone play Star Wars Galaxies? I've been debating upon whether to take the plunge into that, and had a few questions that I can't seem to get answered.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Friday's Omnibus Post

So this is Friday, and what have I done? Er, not a whole bloody lot. A couple of things: -On the basis of known information, I wholeheartedly support the notion of an amendment to the Federal Constitution prohibiting the burning of the American flag. I am not convinced that the right to "free speech" as articulated in the First Amendment encompasses, or should encompass, the desecration of the Star-Spangled Banner. A while back, I wrote the following at Blogs for Bush: In response to flag burning, I've tried to make a deal with myself: If I ever see some yokel trying it, I'll do my darnedest to rescue that flag and give it to the local VFW in order to have it properly retired, or at least treated with honor. I'll allow it as a matter of theoretical and abstract Constitutional law, but I wouldn't lose any sleep over a burner being pounded into the ground as a result of the legitimate and justifiable anger of a patriotic citizen. Burning flags is for unreasonable extremists who don't need to be in the national political conversation anyways. It's juvenile behavior, if you ask me. I still wouldn't lose any sleep if Peter Patchouli got pounded into the ground as a result of his burning an American flag. Actions, after all, have consequences. Some consequences are more immediate and physical than others. However, Mr. Patchouli would probably sue for assault & battery, along with a criminal prosecution for the patriotic citizen. This is unacceptable from my standpoint. The solution, then, is to impose some cost on Mr. Patchouli, and the concept of establishing flag burning as proscribed conduct seems a valid means to do so. -If all goes well, I'll get to go and see Bewitched this weekend. If someone's going to follow in the footsteps of Elizabeth Montgomery, then it might as well be Nicole Kidman. Having Samantha around would be worth putting up with Agnes Moorehead or Shirley MacLaine. Overthrow the Emperor and rule my new empire, indeed. -The Dark Side Sourcebook for the Star Wars Roleplaying Game is nifty. It would be cool to have an RPG campaign of nothing but Dark Jedi. Heh heh heh. "You killed younglings!" "Yes. Yes we did. And it was fun!"

Messerschmitts, Bears, and Tornados

In doing the work on the Me 262 post, the following occurred to me: Given that the 262's engines were so finicky, I daresay that a P-51D or similar aircraft would be better at handling a rapid throttling up. To corrupt a quote from Episode IV, "Nobody worries about destroying a piston engine by rapid throttling up." "That's because piston engines don't overheat, weaken the turbine blades through that heat, throw a blade and promptly garbage the engine when they're throttled up. Jumo 004Bs are known to do that." I snickered at the irony of a jet fighter being at the mercy of a piston-engined fighter in terms of performance in that particular circumstance. I then remembered another snicker story from the Cold War, one that was embarrassing to the RAF. It had to do with the Panavia Tornado F.3 ADV, the premier RAF interceptor during the 1980s. One of the ADV's jobs was to intercept and escort various Soviet long-range reconnaisance platforms that would fly down from (ostensibly) the Kola Peninsula for a variety of missions. One of the more frequent types of aircraft that the RAF would see was the Tu-95 'Bear', in varying configurations. The Bear is a bomber with swept wings and turboprop engines, much like one of the design concepts for the B-52 Stratofortress. As I remembered it, there was some situation where a Tu-95 was capable of escaping a Tornado ADV, and it involved acceleration. A quick bit of Google research confirmed my memories, and here's what was said: It was stated in this newsgroup sometime back that a favourite way (for a large turbo prop) to get rid of a tailing interceptor is slow down a hundred knots or so, (by changing the prop angle @full engine RPM), forcing the 'ceptor to spool down a bit and/or pop some flaps, then change the prop angle back so as to accelerate away from the jet. Which has to use buckets of fuel spooling its motor back up (or afterburning). Repeat a few times & the jet gets bingo fuel. and It has been reported that the ADV needs a partial light on one afterburner to keep up with a Tu-95 Bear, for Chrissake! Apparently, a favourite trick of Bear pilots was/is to fly relatively slowly at fine pitch, let the ADV hold station, the coarsen the pitch and wait 2 minutes for the ADV to catch up. That's probably a useless tactic in war because the ADV would have already fired on the Bear using medium range AAMs like the Sparrow or Sky Flash. Nevertheless, you've got to laugh at what is a very amusing parlor trick. Heh heh heh.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Curse You, Glen A. Larson!

It now appears that perhaps I watched too much Battlestar Galactica when I was in my more impressionable years. All blame, of course, is to be heaped upon the local UHF broadcaster that made such a bespoiling event possible. Y'all do remember UHF, don't you? The Llamabutchers and John of TexasBestGrok have been taking a bunch of religious selectors and posting their results. Anyways, here's what I've gotten from the two noted tests: From SelectSmart: 1: Congregational/United Church of Christ (100%) 2: Methodist/Wesleyan/Nazarene (100%) 3: Presbyterian/Reformed (96%) 4: Lutheran (90%) 5: Anglican/Episcopal/Church of England (85%) 6: Eastern Orthodox (85%) 7: Baptist (Reformed/Particular/Calvinistic) (77%) 8: Church of Christ/Campbellite (74%) 9: Pentecostal/Charismatic/Assemblies of God (73%) 10: Anabaptist (Mennonite/Quaker etc.) (66%) 11: Baptist (non-Calvinistic)/Plymouth Brethren/Fundamentalist (66%) 12: Roman Catholic (63%) 13: Seventh-Day Adventist (49%) I don't know a blessed thing about Congregationalists or the UCC (be it religious or legal, as my grades in contracts, sales, and secured transactions would suggest) but I am a United Methodist, so that's nifty that I scored 100% there. I suppose Theodore Roosevelt's quote about Woodrow Wilson---"[D]amned Presbyterian hypocrite!"---must be applicable. After all, Wilson was a Virginian, born in Staunton. I keep meaning to stop there when I'm traveling Interstate 81, but I never do. Up next is BeliefNet: 1. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (100%) 2. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (97%) 3. Jehovah's Witness (88%) 4. Eastern Orthodox (84%) 5. Roman Catholic (84%) 6. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (74%) 7. Seventh Day Adventist (73%) 8. Orthodox Judaism (73%) 9. Orthodox Quaker (71%) 10. Baha'i Faith (69%) 11. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (63%) 12. Sikhism (61%) 13. Islam (60%) 14. Hinduism (48%) 15. Liberal Quakers (48%) 16. Reform Judaism (44%) 17. New Thought (37%) 18. Mahayana Buddhism (35%) 19. Unitarian Universalism (35%) 20. Jainism (33%) 21. Scientology (33%) 22. Theravada Buddhism (33%) 23. Neo-Pagan (29%) 24. New Age (19%) 25. Nontheist (17%) 26. Secular Humanism (15%) 27. Taoism (10%) I've never even heard of some of these (Jainism? Is that the worship of English TV actress par excellence Jane Seymour?) and it's nice to know that I'd be like Khan Noonien Singh---Sikhism---before I'd be akin to Osama bin Laden. Similarly, I take great pride in finding that I'd be a Roman Catholic or an Orthodox before I'd subscribe to limp-wristed liberal Protestantism. I am, however, dumbfounded at the appearance of both the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. I knew a Mormon or so in high school, but the last time I was in close proximity to one of Joseph Smith's disciples, the experience did not go well. To put it delicately, there was no ecumenical accord reached, and it wasn't due to lack of pleasant effort on my part.1 I do suppose that an entire lifetime within the confines of the UMC has paid off, because I manage to score rather highly with their doctrines on these quizzes. As for the rest of it, I blame Glen A. Larson. Thank God for small miracles; it's a good thing that I waited until the last couple of years to read Battlefield Earth or else I might've wound up in Uncle Elron's Money-Making Machine.2 Yee haw. ---- 1 If I'm not a Mormon, then in the current Galactica reality, I must be one of the Cylons. Well, if that means I get my very own copy of Number Six for fun and profit, I could learn the whole "By...your...command" shtick. Gaius Baltar, you've got nothing on me. Except more hair, an insatiable blond in your mind, Lieutenant Kara Thrace in the sack, and a hot reporter in a bathroom stall. You greasy-looking Eurotrash loser. Blast it, Biggs! As for the Mormon guys, there may have been a cultural clash there. I was dressed in my usual faded polo shirt, unshaven with a baseball hat---looking something like this---covering an unruly mop of hair, whereas these guys looked like they'd just stepped out of Cape Canaveral, circa 1960. Short hair, white short-sleeve shirts, black ties, black pants, black shoes, and embossed tags detailing their name and rank, or something. They not only knew a lot about my home, they knew who I'd gone to high school with, and spoke in eerie turn. It took conscious mental effort for me not to ask if Agent Smith had finished with Morpheus yet. 2 On the other hand, if it meant I could pinch Kelly Preston off from John Travolta, then perhaps a bit of auditing wouldn't be such a bad thing. "If you don't give me your wife, then Xenu will win. Ain't it cool?"

Monday, June 20, 2005

TBG Aircraft Cheesecake - The Messerschmitt 262

JohnL over at TexasBestGrok has his latest installment of Aircraft Cheesecake. This week's installment concerns the strangely attractive Messerschmitt 262. The Me 262 was the world's first combat-deployed jet fighter, developed during World War II as a strike fighter at the orders of Adolf Hitler. Luckily for the Eighth Air Force's daylight formations of bombers, the Me 262 wasn't developed immediately for interception operations, and thus took longer to get into service for that purpose. Indeed, it was lucky for us that the entire German air war was on its knees by the time of the Me 262's introduction. Between a chronic lack of spare parts, fuel, trained pilots, and support infrastructure, the Me 262 could not be used to its full capability. The thing needed cover on its takeoff and landing cycles because it wasn't that maneuverable and took a while to perform either cycle. USAAF/RAF fighters got good at bouncing the 262 on its landing cycles, where it was largely defenseless. I doubt that the course of the war in Europe would have been changed had the 262 been available earlier as an interceptor, but it certainly could have made our final victory much more expensive. A contrary view exists; apparently, the Eighth Air Force (and other heavy bombardment units) in the ETO were on the verge of cancelling operations at various points due to losses inflicted by the Luftwaffe's anti-aircraft artillery and fighters; with the 262 running around, the threshold for cancellation of the daylight effort might've been met, with unknown results for the war in Europe. UPDATE, 23 JUNE 2005: The Superintendent of The Cold Spring Shops has a pleasant mention of this article, as does John over in the original TBG entry. I'd like to revise and extend my remarks on the 262's shortcomings. The primary problem with the Me 262 weapons system was its powerplant. This is not uncommon; the General Dynamics/Grumman F-111B died in part due to problems with the powerplant, and the Grumman F-14A Tomcat's TF30 powerplant was a piece of junk. The 262 used the Junkers Jumo 004B turbojet engine as its powerplant; this was both good and bad. Good in that it was the first mass-produced jet engine, and bad for the same reasons. It personified Dr. Eldon Tyrell's (of Blade Runner fame) notion that "[t]he light that burns twice as bright burns half as long". The 004B was a persnickety engine; software engineers might've called it a beta. For starters, it only had an operational life of 10-25 hours before the thing was ready for scrap or serious maintenance. I'm not sure what modern jet engines get, but you might burn up a pair of these things a week. That's not good. Another problem with the 004B stemmed from the state of German metallurgy at the time; they couldn't mass-produce the kinds of metals necessary to make it a tough engine, and so they had to substitute lesser-quality materials for the manufacture of the turbine blades. So it's got engines made by the lowest bidder. So what? So, you have to handle them accordingly. Mishandling of the 004B---defined by rapid increases of the throttle---meant that the cheap turbine blades could break and be ingested by the rest of the engine. If you've seen The Phantom Menace, you know what happens when a pit droid (or a wrench tossed by Sebulba) goes into a pod racer's engine. This holds true on Earth as well; your engine becomes an expensive paperweight and you've got a potential fire on your hands. Additionally, the 004B did not spool up---provide additional power---easily. There was a fair amount of lag time between the pilot's advance of the throttle and the engine's response. Keep these two facts in mind: It doesn't like to accelerate quickly and it takes its sweet time when you try. What's this got to do with the takeoff and landing cycles, you say? Everything. Takeoff and landing will both require additional time, something the combat pilot doesn't always have. The 262 required a decent takeoff roll and you had to be nice to the thing during the entire period, climbing away from the runway in a smooth manner while throttling back if possible, to keep the engines happy. Not necessarily fatal under ideal circumstances, but with the USAAF & RAF running around, you might not get to do this. Worse yet was the landing sequence: The 262 pilot would get into position for landing, and essentially be stuck low, slow, and unable to accelerate off his approach if Mustangs or Thunderbolts showed up. You see the essential dilemma for the 262 pilot: He can't really run away from the battle in a hurry , and has to focus on getting to ground. That's not a very healthy strategy for survival, and it apparently accounted for a fair piece of the Me 262 losses.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Interview with John Milius

In the course of hunting through some articles on the death of Lane Smith, I came across this 2003 interview with John Milius. I recommend reading it, even though it's a little strange and certainly long for IGN's style. I recommend taking a fair dose of 'tongue-in-cheek' with you when/if you read it, or else you'll close the browser tab and swear off of Milius forever. A brief recap of Mr. Milius' work that's caught my attention: The Wind and the Lion Apocalypse Now 1941 Red Dawn Flight of the Intruder Mr. Milius' current project has as its subject the Son Tay raid of 1970. Put briefly, the United States decided to go and rescue some of our POWs from those bestial savages, the North Vietnamese. If Milius can get this made, then it'll be an excellent film, because the story is compelling. Jen Martinez has an anniversary post on the raid; check that out for further details. An additional site that liked was here.

RIP Lane Smith

Blast it. One of my more favorite Hollywood character actors, Lane Smith, is dead. People in my demographic generally remember him as Perry White on the ABC program Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. As for my own part, Mr. Smith won permanent recognition as President Richard M. Nixon in the television version of The Final Days. I think it was the scene where Leonid Brezhnev was barrelling around in a Lincoln at Camp David that sealed the deal.1 Sublime humor, if you will. Additional roles by Mr. Smith that scored points with the judge from the Western District of Virginia: -"Nathan Bates" in V: The Series -"Mayor Bates" of Calumet in Red Dawn Red Dawn is a fundamentally disturbing movie overall, but Mr. Smith's character manages to be more memorable than not. It isn't every day that you get to see an actor have to react to the simulated slaughter of the residents of his town, and he does a pretty unforgettable job in one of the most wrenching sequences from Mr. Milius' picture. At the same time, Mr. Smith manages to provide some comic relief as he stammers around about the nature of the Boy Scouts in order to protect his son from arrest. Mr. Smith's gravelly voice and expressive face often served him well, in my opinion. He will be missed. He was sixty-nine years old. ---- 1 Mea culpa, Mr. President; I understand from the IMDB that you didn't like this movie.

Irritating NRO News

Curse you, K-Lo! The Corner has moved to a much-easier-to-remember home. It's now at You'll want to update your bookmarks. I thought you guys were the home of conservatism on the web! I have been betrayed! Bookmarks? Piffle. Bookmarks are so passé. I've got hardwired into muscular memory. It's automatically typed by now, after years of doing it, and now they go and change things? Calumny! Obligatory modified quote from The Empire Strikes Back: "You're trying to build market share and now you go and pull this!" Bah, I don't approve. I'd bet Edmund Burke, were he alive, would not either. Can we at least get some sort of redirect so that I don't have to go and learn anything else? Call it conservation of er, neurons. What would Russell Kirk say?

14 June 2005 - TBG Sci-Fi Babe Voter Guide

You've got to love TexasBestGrok. Here I was sitting next to an empty bowl of stroganoff, watching Greg the Bunny on DVD, with a fan puttering overhead whilst trying to beat that famous Virginia heat. I'd just dropped to 1-3 on the election recommendations, and life looked miserable. That is, until I checked TexasBestGrok. Y'see, JohnL had been posting his infamous sci-fi babe quizzes throughout the earlier part of the year, and despite his patent refusal to support women in uniform---neener, neener, Wilma still won---I enjoyed taking part in 'em. But, as is the way of such things, the polls went on hiatus for perfectly understandable reasons. It's back. And so is the ever-so-annoying voter guide, wherein your correspondent makes half-baked observations on the candidates, in a feeble attempt to sway the voting. Here goes, on The Women of The Incredibles A. I recommend a vote for Mirage. If this were Starship Troopers, the instructor would demand that I prove this in symbolic logic over the course of 150 pages due next morning. Luckily for me, since I don't know what symbolic logic is, this isn't a Robert A. Heinlein novel. This recommendation, much like many of my other ones, is based solely upon what I've been able to gather off a quick search of the World Wide Web.1 Positive factors: -She's ambitious. This can be used to one's benefit. -She's blond. Your correspondent is easily distracted by blonds. Go figure. -She's got green eyes. Er, right. -She's evil. Someone's got to er, show her the error of her ways, and steer her back to the Light Side. Ahem. -She's repetitively described as "Syndrome's girl Friday". Inasmuch as this sort of description is probably guaranteed to drive perenially indignant feminists stark raving mad (as if they weren't already) I wholeheartedly approve. The only problem is that her name's Mirage, not Friday. Never actually figured that out. Negative factors: -None known. B. I do not recommend a vote for Elastigirl. What little bit of this picture that I caught at K-Mart one day involved Elastigirl's flight to the Evil Island of Doom, and her desperate attempts to talk a SAM emplacement into not firing upon her. Now, far be it from me to correct anyone on proper radio procedure for civil aviation, but her dialogue didn't impress. Moreover, she sounds suspiciously like Holly Hunter. Now, I don't begrudge (most) actors & actresses their political views, so it's not about what Holly Hunter thinks. It's about what her voice sounds like, and I'm still trying to figure out how that whole "I've said my piece and I've counted to three" bit was supposed to be conclusive in O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Giving the thumbs down to Holly Hunter's alter ego is somewhat painful because she did star in Always, which had the Douglas A-26 Invader and the Consolidated PBY Catalina in starring roles. Nevertheless, I've said my piece, and I've counted to three. Sayeth Mirage, "I'm attracted to power." Aren't we all honey, aren't we all. Thumbs up to the platinum blond with the French name and the luscious green eyes. Who says we can't reach across the Atlantic for some friendship? See here and here for a few more illustrations of this week's recommended candidate. ---- 1 I've never actually seen this picture. The one time I had a chance to do so was either "Watch Underworld or The Incredibles". An accurate reproduction of my thought process: "Copious gunplay, Kate Beckinsale, black leather, and vampires or a Pixar movie. Pause. Goth is good."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Virginia Primary Results

Ouch. I haven't gone 1 for 4 in living memory. Of course, Jerry Kilgore wins in a rout of Warrenton Mayor George Fitch. After that, basically flip-flop my picks/recommendations, and you'll have the results. Once again, ye olde ability to pick winners gets called into question, and the math goes badly. Turnout was miserable for all Commonwealth-wide races; none of them cleared 4.0%. I suppose that this once again proves the maxim that only the die-hards vote in the primaries. Two things surprised me: 1. Bill Bolling's crushing of Sean Connaughton. Everywhere I'd been prior to this had virtually been "Connaughton Country", with there always being someone chanting the mantra, "Sean wants to run with Jerry". My response to that always was, "Gee, you think?" but that doesn't mean that everyone else came to the same conclusion. As far as I could tell, Connaughton had lashed himself to the mainmast of the good ship Kilgore and wasn't about to let go. Obviously it didn't work. I suppose it means that, amongst Republican voters, the anti-tax sentiment still holds considerable sway. This is unfortunate, but you go to the races with the electorate you have, not the electorate that you want. 2. Leslie Byrne's victory(?). My home base is nowhere near Leslie Byrne's, and she barely registered in my perception. Sort of a "I know she exists but beyond that..." kind of thing, if you will. I had expected Viola Baskerville to do what Donald McEachin did in 2001, crushing all comers with a heavily favorable turnout in the City of Richmond. Did this happen? Doesn't look like it, and even if it did, the percentages would only suggest about 4,000 votes up for grabs on Viola's expected base of support, so that does nothing to the 12,000 vote gap. A quick bit of telephoning around doesn't give me any real sense of who she is, so perhaps this woman from the far away reaches of the Commonwealth will be handily defeated by Bill Bolling. The one thing that I did pick up was that she's apparently tight with pro-Dean sentiment, so perhaps that explains why she has suppport. Bah, I was hoping to keep Howard Dean at arm's length from my beloved Commonwealth. ---- UPDATE, 2252 hrs: It appears that 17% of voters in the Republican primary need to be taken out and shot. I jest, of course, but I'd sure like to figure out what motivated them to the Fitch banner. One of my correspondents suggests that it's all about taxes, but I'm not entirely sure how that explains bucking the party's choice. On the other hand, with victory for the other candidate virtually assured, there's no time like the present to register a protest vote. Bah, protest votes. As of right now, Baskerville's pulled to within 9,000 of Byrne, with only a quarter of the Richmond City precincts reporting. Baskerville is winning 68-16 over Byrne, so it may be that the McEachin model wins again, defying my application of the Commonwealth-wide turnout number in what should be Baskerville's home turf. Curiouser and curiouser, says Alice. The numbers don't get any better for my man Baril or for Connaughton, either. Bother.

Monday, June 13, 2005

In re Michael Jackson

This is the first, last, and only thing I'll have to say about it. Allow me to quote Michelle Branch's "Are You Happy Now?" by saying the following: "I don't care". The case does, however, allow me to illustrate a point: A criminal defendant may be as guilty as can be. Whether he is convicted or not does not turn upon that question. Rather, it turns upon the relative skill of the prosecution and defense teams. A poorly-defended man may be convicted of a crime he never committed. A well-defended man may not be convicted of crimes he committed. Orenthal James Simpson, I'm looking at you. I have no articulable opinion on the case other than to state that by this point in time, parents should be on notice that funny things keep getting alleged in regards to Mr. Jackson, and that any parent who willingly allows their child to spend time at the Neverland Ranch should be on constructive notice of same, and thus be barred from civil recovery. Criminal liability for neglect of the child should be considered as a charge against those same parents. Bah, enough of this.

Navy v. Pirates, 06 June 2005

No, I don't mean the US Naval Academy Middies versus the Pirates of Seton Hall or East Carolina, either. Nor was Jack Sparrow involved. Paging Miss Swann. No, I mean the real things. That's right, the United States Navy engaged pirates on the high seas in 2005. The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) was on patrol in the Indian Ocean when it received a distress call from a commercial freighter. That's pretty nifty, even though our people did not actually kill any pirates. Alas, I was hoping they'd make someone walk the plank. At any rate, I suggest reading the referring article from No Such Blog for further details and a link to the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot's coverage of the event. If you go to the Gonzalez website, you'll find an MS-Word document file announcing the thing. What it says, I don't know; I'm a WordPerfect man. Dip of the Jolly Roger flag to No Such Blog.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Weekend Sci-Fi

If you're like me and care to delve into the production details of some of your favorite entertainment franchises, you've probably run across various names that may or may not stick out. This weekend's installment of random sci-fi goes to a man who's worked on several of my more favorite memories from the late 1970s forward: Andrew Probert His first contribution of note to my eyes was the final design for the Cylon centurions in Battlestar Galactica. He's also responsible for the second-best looking vessel ever designed for Star Trek, the overhauled Enterprise first seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.1 Probert also contributed to the design of the modified Bell 222B helicopter seen as the star component of the CBS television series Airwolf. This of course recommends him as well; suffice to say that a lot of his work meandered across my personal viewing habits from 1979 forward. Hats off to Mr. Probert! I'll start saving for the book he's promising to release some time in 2006; should be good. ---- 1 The most beautiful class ever established for Star Trek was first seen in 1984, namely the Excelsior. It's kind of like Elle McPherson: Long-legged (er, nacelled, but whatever), exotic, and big enough to be a drop-dead knockout whether on the silver screen or the cover of Sports Illustrated. Yee haw.

Well, Duh

You Are a Pundit Blogger!

Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read. Truly appreciated by many, surpassed read by only a few.
---- Gah, I need a good source of quizzes. Ever since Quizilla turned into "angsty pre-teen cartoon fiction" and a watering hole for the worst illiteracy seen since the Democratic Underground, quiz life has been hard.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Virginia's Republican Primary Endorsements

It's a little late in the game to be issuing endorsements, but so what? GOVERNOR: Jerry W. Kilgore Worth it if for no other reason than to irritate the central/eastern Virginians. The western end of Virginia could use someone in Richmond who saw it as something other than a safe target for jokes. Who knows, perhaps Jerry'll make sure that the maps used by the General Assembly extend west of Charlottesville. LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Phillip Puckett Sean Connaughton Not that I have any love for Mr. Connaughton, but sources close to people who hear things from the Kilgore end of things suggest that the electoral math favors a Kilgore/Connaughton ticket. Simply put, the Northern Virginians (not to be confused with the hallowed Army of Northern Virginia) are more likely to vote for a ticket that contains one of their own. If the GOP can make life difficult for Tim Kaine up North, then the Kilgore victory party could be underway by 2100 hours that night. I have nothing against Bill Bolling, who's reportedly a good guy. All things being equal, I'd rather have Phil Puckett in the general election. West of Charlottesville represent, yo. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Steve Baril Mr. Baril, a Richmond attorney, didn't cost me much, if anything, to educate, since he attended private schools---the Hampden-Sydney College and the University of Richmond to be exact---for undergraduate and graduate work. His stated goal of wanting to be the people's lawyer conflicts directly with the actual role of the Office of Attorney General, but it sounds nice on the campaign spots.1 We'll have to throw a bone to the Richmonders anyways, and Mr. Baril seems like the type who could fill that role nicely. I have nothing against Bob McDonnell, and I hope he will continue to provide his services from the House of Delegates for several more terms. I'd just rather not hear of aggrieved Richmonders sulking down at the 'rivah' because their city got shut out in candidates. There you have it, my slate of recommendations. I expect to bat about 0.6667 in this particular outing, but nobody's paying me to make the calls. As always, comments, rants, tirades, the questioning of my parentage, and the like are welcome in the comments section. ---- 1 The Office of Attorney General is actually the law firm for the Commonwealth of Virginia and represents the Commonwealth on a variety of issues. It doesn't actually do any work directly for "the people". You can't just dial up the Pocahontas Center and get an attorney. They'd more than likely refer to you someone who could, though. They're pretty efficient in that regard.

Friday, June 10, 2005

The Future Is Flux

First things first: Viacom's MTV has never managed to rise above anything other than a channel that was after CBS and in front of the USA Network on my cable system, a station where this particular train did not and would not stop. This has always been the case, since its inception in the early 1980s.1 But hey, this is Virginia, and we always have an exception. ("My Lord Your Honor, the rule in Queen Elizabeth's Case is more accurately applied here, rather than the more modern rule adopted in 1700...") For a brief moment, in the mid-to-late 1990s, MTV managed to catch my attention for a short while. What monumentous occasion produced this? Three things, House of Style, Beavis and Butt-head, and Aeon Flux. The first was, of course, for Cindy Crawford, first introduced to me by way of Denis Leary. The second was simple appeal to the more base, coarse, and downright malevolent humor lurking beneath the surface of all young men. The disruptive effect of screaming, "I am the great Cornholio" in what's supposed to be a serious setting cannot be overstated. That leaves us with, as it was once put, Frau Flux.2 I vaguely remember Liquid Television, on which a variety of Aeon Flux shorts by Peter Chung aired. Thinking back on it, I was probably drawn into the fact that they were animated, involved copious amounts of gunplay and random violence, plus (usually) a skyrocketing body count. It didn't hurt that Frau Flux wasn't so bad looking, but more on that later. The program was later extended into its own series, with a more or less coherent plot, detailing the adventures of Aeon Flux, a combination assassin/spy. Getting any deeper into would require a lot more space, which I don't intend to do. Keeping track of the plot on any other level than Aeon versus Trevor Goodchild (head of the more-or-less enemy state and Aeon's occasional, er, companion) would require a degree in the inner working of Stanley Kubrick's mind. Like I said, difficult to follow from episode to episode. Strange and off-the-wall themes pervaded every episode, along with some fetishistic behavior that I didn't much care for at the time. Tongues in the ear are not my forte, you see. Anyways. The program suffered the fate of every program that I like, and was not renewed. A few years intervened, and then I managed to get the more-or-less complete series on VHS from something called ''.3 I coughed up for a copy of the MTV-produced book tie-in, and then eventually law school intervened, disconnecting me from the world of Aeon Flux forever. Or so I thought. Fast forward to 2005. I've heard vague rumors of an Aeon Flux movie in production, but I shrug them off. Comes now a copy of that dreadful rag Entertainment Weekly in a trial subscription someone signed me up for.4 I'm idly flipping through the thing when something approximately like this shows up. Lo, it was Charlize Theron as Aeon Flux herself. Charlize Theron is an actress of which I've maintained a slight interest since seeing her in Mighty Joe Young and Men of Honor.5 On the other hand, I would never have considered her for the part of Aeon Flux. In fact, about the only actress I'd consider for it is Lara Flynn Boyle. However, you go into production with the actress that you have, not the actress that you want, to paraphrase Donald H. Rumsfeld. That leaves us with Miss Theron and a movie in post-production. Therefore, I suggest that if you've got an interest in the property, point your browser over to, where there are a few things to do courtesy of Flash. Me, I got the wallpaper. For better or for worse, I'll probably be ambling into the theaters on this one, if only to perhaps relive part of the pre-war era, where I didn't have a care in the world other than the next race or the next paper that was due. Heck, the movie couldn't possibly be any worse than Stealth.6 That which does not kill us makes us stranger. Tip of the Wisconsin hat to Swanky Conservative. ---- 1 Cyndi Lauper & Captain Lou Albano fail when measured against the General Lee, Airwolf, and the Knight Industries Two Thousand, you see. In the more modern era, vintage Liz Phair, Sheryl Crow, and Lisa Gerrard might manage to win out. However, much like the number of Frenchmen required to defend Paris, who knows? It's never been tried. Ha ha. 2 Yes, I own a copy of The Herodotus File. I hope nobody ever finds it; that's arguably one of the things I'd rather not have to explain. Nobody would believe that it wasn't some sort of pseudo-fetish mag. Meanwhile, a continuing injustice in the world is that Jessica Simpson's reality series is on DVD, and nobody's compiled all the Aeon Flux episodes for DVD. Perhaps MTV will pull its collective cranium out of its ventral cavity and do that to coincide with the theatrical release. That is, if they can do something other than drag down the culture, for once. 3 Either Das Boot on VHS or the Aeon Flux set were among the first purchases I ever made from Mr. Bezos' little kiosk. Go figure. 4 In the words of Wolverine from an ad for Damage Control, "Somebody dies!" 5 Hey, she's blond haired, blue eyed, and is a product of the ruins of the British Empire. What's not to like? She also did well in a turn as Britt Ekland in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, one of the most depressing movies that I think I've ever watched. Geoffrey Rush, however, managed to cement his place as one of my more favorite actors with this production. "Walsinghaaaaam!" 6 Since this picture is almost certain to have a political angle, I expect several juvenile and poorly-veiled jabs at either George W. Bush and/or the Republican Party in general, courtesy of those political sophisticates at MTV. I never thought I'd long for the days of that annoying Tabitha Soren or that creepy-looking Kurt Loder. At the same time, it would mean the return of Serena Altschul, who wasn't all that bad looking. In other news, I want the ninety seconds or so of my life back that the trailer for Stealth attached to Revenge of the Sith has stolen.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Mr. Morse's Code in the Age of Flash

Here's something that's certainly interesting: A Flash-based Morse code generator/converter, courtesy of This little gadget is really nifty. I er, sheepishly admit to sending "CQD MGY" once I got the site loaded. Then again, I spent something like thirty minutes fiddling around with the Morse code telegraph keys at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., just listening to the things. And yes, I tried to send "CQD MGY" there, too. Until then, I hadn't the foggiest that telegraphy had a sound to it, other than which I picked up from watching old war movies and the like. Instead, I found out that the system in place aboard Titanic was something called 'the spark drag' or 'drag spark'. The SI's exhibit had three keys, including one specifically designated as the type in use circa 1912. Naturally, I played with that one the most. It didn't sound like that radio-style chirp from the 1920s or the clattering I generally associate with railroad telegraphy; rather, it sounded like someone opening and closing an electrical circuit or a short/long sparking motion. It was, in short, both creepy and cool. Tip of the Executor hat to Ghost of a Flea. UPDATE: Found this discussing the Marconi wireless system deployed aboard Titanic. Interesting, even though I don't understand much of it. Reading the article suggests that the spark drag/drag spark system wasn't what Titanic had, but I could be wrong.

New P.J. O'Rourke

Found a new P.J. O'Rourke piece at the Weekly Standard. Apparently, P.J. went on vacation to Guadeloupe, an island in the Caribbean. While there, he surveys the EU draft constitution (all 485 pages of it) and finds journalistic advantage in not speaking the native language. Unfortunately, he's slowed down from the halycon days of Holidays in Hell, so there's no sort of Communist regime to make fun of, or anti-government protests in South Korea to partake of. Worse is the fact that there aren't any drugs, whiskey, or the like involved, either. Tee hee. Nevertheless, P.J.'s travelogues are always interesting, so go check it out.

McCain Musings

Mark over at Decision '08 has this article up analyzing the results on his John McCain poll. Now, Mark's a McCain '08 man, and I'm not, so keep that in mind as you read my remarks. This was supposed to be a comment, but ran too long. -The poll essentially asked what you'd do if John McCain were the Republican nominee in 2008. The winning answer choice was "wait and see the other nominees before deciding", with 32% of the vote. Call me crazy, but I'm not seeing where other nominees are going to arise, and this led to my rejection of this option. If McCain's the GOP nominee, what else is there to consider? It doesn't matter who the Democrats send up, I'm not going to vote for the Democrat. (Of course, if they send Mark Warner, I'll have to pray that George F. Allen is the Republican nominee. Otherwise, loyalty to Virginia could get very expensive from a political standpoint. I digress.) I suppose he's talking about third parties, but you'd think that no Republican would consider them. Then again, I'm not accustomed to dealing with political "independents"; reversing Pauline Kael, all my friends vote Republican.1 I'm simply not sure what that response choice means, which is why I ignored it. -I'm pleased to note that my response, "hold my nose & vote for McCain" is the second choice, within the margin of error at 30%. Not that there was any actual error, but I'm trying to spin this. For the reasons I ramblingly laid out in "The McCain Bakery", I would vote McCain if he were to be the nominee. I see it as part of the deal each Republican makes when he steps up to the voting booth in the primaries. Put simply, "In the primaries, you will work for your man, and I will work for my man. In the general election, we will work for our man." One of the things that I regard as important in the transition from primary to general election is the expression of party unity and so forth, which I generally define as the defeated candidates pledging support to, and campaigning on behalf of, the nominated candidate.2 In the context of the 2008 Presidential election, my theorem means that I will work to the very last for George F. Allen, assuming his candidacy. Once the Republican convention is over and a nominee is had, I will work for that nominee, whether it be John S. McCain or George F. Allen.3 I may not give the campaign equivalent of the last full measure of devotion---leave that to the winning candidate's loyalists---but I will certainly try to find an articulable reason to carry the flag for the GOP nominee. Just because your man isn't the lead locomotive doesn't mean that he's not needed somewhere else in the train. ---- 1 That's not actually the truth, but it was too good of a line to pass up. 2 I readily admit to, at one level, being horrified when reading what then-Governor George W. Bush said about how he, Bush, and his brother Jeb, would "sit on their hands" in Texas and Florida respectively if Steve Forbes were our party's nominee. Sure I understand---it's Steve Forbes for crying out loud; I haven't liked that guy ever---but to read those words was not a positive event. Handing the country to Al Gore is such a mark of political unity, Junior. What was that about loyalty? 3 I've been called a party hack in the past for articulating this viewpoint, but I don't think it wrong for the party which I more or less line up with to expect me to support its candidates. I may not always agree with the candidates my party machinery in Virginia and the several States have selected, but I'm remarkably reliable in doing something for them, even if it was simply speaking a favorable word to close friends. I do, however, specifically reserve the right to gripe, moan, complain, and otherwise grouse as I see fit. UPDATE: Mark's not a McCain man at this point in time. Says he: Oh, but Country Pundit, I'm not a McCain '08 man...I haven't declared my loyalty to any candidate yet (though if I had my choice so far, it would probably be Condi)... I regret the error. Sorry 'bout that.

Our Man in Zimbabwe

Courtesy of comments in a post at Samizdata, I've found a correspondent that keeps track of what's going on down in Robert Mugabe's little African paradise. The Zimbabwean Pundit covers things from (apparently) the capital of Zimbabwe, Harare. Inasmuch as I'd like to see Africa clean itself up and get on the economic development bandwagon, the fate of Zimbabwe is interesting to me. The United Methodist Church in Virginia has talked about sending sewing kits---apparently a pet project of the western end's UMC bureaucracy---to the people of Zimbabwe. Me, I agree with some of the commenters in that Samizdata thread; better to send automatic weapons, ammunition, and instructions for the disposal of an odious leader. Ahem. One harbors the notion, echoed by various sorts, that a well-placed TLAM or two dozen might be appropriate as the beginning of positive reform in that country. And no, I'm not interested in colonizing Zimbabwe, thank you. Like much of Africa, it's not worth the investment from a purely economic sense. (Jamming a thumb or two in the eye of the Red Chinese might, however, be worth it. We still owe them for that EP-3E.) Instead, my interest in Zimbabwe comes from that rather basic human decency that suggests that people should not suffer from famine, war, and social upheaval of the sort commonly found in Africa. You see, I'd much rather that innocents held in thrall by a corrupt thugocracy not starve or perish, thank you. I don't see any theoretical reason why NATO or the UN shouldn't hold Mugabe accountable at the point of a bayonet.

Korans in the Can?

Recently, a friend of mine asked for my opinion on the so-called "abuses" of the Islamic text known as the Koran and why I wasn't writing about it here. As Admiral J.T. Kirk will put it in about two hundred and eighty years, "Here it comes." My opinion is best put it in the form of a question: Why is it that I'm supposed to suck it up every time that some half-wit artist slurs my faith on my dime, but yet I'm supposed to understand and approve of Islamist "rage" when there are allegations that maybe a copy of the Islamic central text got flushed? I sense a great dichotomy in the Force. Ahem. I'm not writing about it because I don't care. A loathsome "artist" named Andres Serrano used Federal funds from the National Endowment for the Arts to create a work named "Piss Christ", wherein he filled a glass with his urine and then dipped a Roman Catholic crucifix into it.1 There was of course outrage at this work, apparently led by Senators Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) and Alphonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.). Naturally, the defense was centered around "artistic freedom" and the like; those who opposed this blasphemous and vile work were labeled as neanderthals who wanted to crush the freedom of expression, or something like it. It's been nearly twenty years, but I daresay that the New York Times et cetera were in the vanguard of those howling "oppression" because Helms et al suggested that perhaps the Federal dollar should not be spent on such things. The "artsy" types back in my home town certainly would have rallied in defense of the artist, because there's a hidden clause in the Constitution that says that art, so long as it is offensive to Christians, is always good. That which offends the public morality of Christians is good, if you will.2 The same controversy arose in the City of New York back in 1999, when Chris Ofili produced and exhibited a work that consisted of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, festooned with elephant manure. Then-NYC mayor Rudolph Guiliani publicly suggested that the grant for the Brooklyn Museum ought to be pulled. The American Civil Liberties Union of course swung into injunctive action, doing its evil best to defend this blasphemous work.3 Once again, the refrain was that Christians should get over it, that it's no big deal that two of the more central figures in the Christian pantheon are defaced for the sake of art. "Deal with it, you silly Christians! It's not important!" It is with the memories of this in my mind that I approach the stories of Koranic desecration and the reports of rioting.4 Much has been said by a variety of people about how it is a great tragedy that the Islamic central text. This has come from curious quarters, indeed. The same quarters that would suggest that I, as a Christian, have no right to complain about the "Piss Christ" are now suggesting that the Koran deserves some sort of protection because a bunch of suspected terrorists and/or Islamist combatants consider it an important text. In other words, I am supposed to shudder with rage because a guard at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, might not have treated this text with appropriate deference.5 I think not. If I'm supposed to applaud and genuflect my deeply held personal beliefs to the altar of artistic freedom when important aspects of my faith are tarred in the manner of Serrano and Ofili, then the "Arab street" can kindly do likewise. Therefore, I offer the following advice to the Department of Defense: Find a Mason jar amongst the troops at Guantanamo Bay. Fill it with urine, then dunk the Koran. Dub it the "Piss Koran", and have someone claim it as their artistic work. Give them some money from the NEA, get some general officer to write a memo opposing it, and talk Sean Hannity & Bill O'Reilly into attacking the work on their national radio programs. I guarantee that within a day, the intelligentsia of this nation will be defending the right of our warrior artists to their artistic freedoms. Moreover, the inevitable riots in the Arab world will be met with a sneering "tut tut" from the opinion-makers on high. It will allow us to make use of previously unexploited resources in prosecuting the war effort, and I would think that such would be a good thing. To rip off a quote from Admiral Motti, "Artistic freedom is now the ultimate power in the universe. I suggest we use it." ---- This post was inspired by the following entry at SoxBlog. I really need to find that song he's referencing. 1 Roman Catholic crucifixes in general (and this one in particular) consist of a representation of the cross along with a figure of Jesus Christ. This is of course different from those that Protestants would be more familiar with, which do not include a figure of Jesus Christ. 2 Additional witness to this is born by the divergent reactions to Martin Scorcese's The Last Temptation of Christ and Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. The former was hailed by the cultural elites, while the latter was reviled. 3 In the process of researching this piece, I ran across an article from Inkwell relating the story of how the work no longer exists, due to a fire in a storage house. Ha ha. 4 I am unmoved by riots in response to the so-called "desecration" of the Islamic central text. These people will riot for any thing at any time; they have effectively cried 'wolf' ten or fifteen too many times. In retrospect, I would suggest that the the Islamic demonstration probably lost its moral effectiveness some time around the publication of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. As P.J. O'Rourke (approximately) put it, "A book critical of Islam was written by an Indian national and published in the United Kingdom. Naturally, the demonstrators burned the American flag outside American embassies." 5 When news of this broke, I asked myself the following question: "If someone was trying to interrogate you, and urinated upon a copy of the King James Version, how would you respond?" After a few seconds, it occurred to me: "I'd shrug. If they want to go ahead and punch their tickets on the Express Elevator to Hell, then let them. Considering what I know about torture methods used on prisoners, that's pretty tame."

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Robby Gordon, Round Two

Earlier, I posted an irate defense of Robby Gordon in relation to his remarks about potential competitive advantages enjoyed by Miss Danica Patrick, an IRL rookie contender and eventual fourth-place finisher in the 2005 Indianapolis 500. In the article, I linked to several posts by other publications, noting a) uniform negativity on the part of the posts and b) a "considerable level of ignorance when it comes to motorsports" on the part of "many" posters and commenters. My remarks seem to have hit a nerve on the part of one of the named parties. Marc, of Full Throttle, stopped by and posted the following comment, reproduced in full: I note you linked my site as uniformly negative (Full Throttle), I'll take slight issue with that. Was I negative in how Gordon stated what he did? Yes, but not just because of this incident. He has a long history of making ill advised comments. So much so his sponsors have required contract language that protects them from Gordons occasional rantings. I did generaly agree with the substance of what he said. I don't agree the advantage given is much to worry about. Example: You cite a fuel mileage advantage. Well where was it. Patrick ran low on fuel, turned down the boost and it cost her 2 positions in the final standings. Advantage given by a 0.8 differential in qual speeds? That difference amounts to about 60 feet from the pole position and the outside of the fourth row, hardly significant. And then there is this little shot given by you: "A lot of bloggers rallied to Ms. Patrick's defense, usually focusing upon ad hominem insults towards Mr. Gordon. Additionally, it seems that many posters and commenters display a considerable level of ignorance when it comes to motorsports" Followed up by this: "The estimated number of turns involved in the Indianapolis 500 has been revised; the track is 2.5 miles long and the race is 500 miles; 200 laps are necessary. 200x4=800. I had previously estimated off the cuff that it was 500 laps in length, which would lead to the earlier 2,000. The error is regretted." Regrettable? No it just shows how disengaged you are from Indy and the IRL in general. That would be called pot-kettle-black. And now, the response: First off, I'd like to thank Marc for stopping by and commenting. Since I don't have any ad revenues, traffic and interaction is the payoff for this publication. Yee haw. Secondly, I stand by my decision to count Marc's article as "negative". The clear text of the article is, to put it mildly, not complimentary of Mr. Gordon. A few choice selections: -Because [Robby Gordon's] as dumb as a box of Vanilla Waffers! -I guess it hasn’t entered into this mental midgets mind that there is a minimum weight for Indy Cars. (The factual error regarding IRL weight policy was corrected and noted in a subsequent update.) -But Gordon is still stuuuupid! (This was included in the update noting the real IRL weight policy.) Somehow, I for whatever reason do not see Marc's 'general agreement' with what Mr. Gordon said. Perhaps it's buried somewhere in the box of vanilla wafers, like a Cracker Jack toy surprise. As for Ms. Patrick's theoretical fuel economy advantage versus her actual performance (nearly running out of fuel, as things would have it) all I can say is that perhaps she didn't drive the thing intelligently. And yet she finished fourth. I would suggest that superior equipment and her unique competitive advantage would allow her a greater margin of error than would be available to the average driver, but that's a subject for the mathematicians, which I'm not. With regards to the value of sixty feet, I suggest that Marc (and anyone else) ask Bobby Labonte if he'd like to have had an additional six feet at the 2005 Coca-Cola 600. You might not think that sixty feet matters in a race of several hundred miles, but it does: Sixty feet can be the difference between being unavoidably caught up in a wreck or slipping through unscathed. In motorsports, it's the little things that matter. Marc also takes exception to my remarks regarding the ignorance of posters and commenters, noting with what I assume is glee the fact that I had made a mistake on the number of laps (and thus the number of turns) in the Indianapolis 500. My reply? "Come off it." In the flood of "Danica's hot; Robbie's fat!" posts and comments, I detected very few responses that addressed the substance of Mr. Gordon's remarks. It took considerable amounts of digging to find the Penske numbers quoted anywhere. I found, on the other hand, a lot of people throwing insults at Mr. Gordon. I fail to see the equivalence between minor factual confusion and insults devoid of any grounding in motorsports. Asking "What does the '500' in 'Indianapolis 500' refer to, the number of miles it covers or the number of laps?" doesn't seem to be such a major problem, as opposed to people who line up to heap abuse on Robby Gordon, but would have a hard time distinguishing a Nextel Cup stock car from a Formula 1 machine. It's also worth noting that as far as factual (but corrected and openly admitted) errors go, Marc thought that fuel was counted in the IRL's weight calculation. I don't consider his error to be significant either; it takes a certain level of knowledge of the sport to even get to the point where you worry about such errors. Furthermore, it's a good thing that he corrected the article, and openly said so, to boot. However, I think it worth noting by way of response to his criticism. I wonder if his error shows his 'disengagement' with Indianapolis and the Indy Racing League in general. UPDATE: I found this post over at Catallarchy which goes in a slightly different direction, but make of it what you will. Thanks to the Cold Spring Shops for the pointer.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

We're On The Map!

This just in: Comrade Commissar has seen fit to include this publication in his latest cartographic effort, seen here. This time, the map shows members of the Coalition of the Chillin'. Your humble correspondent is pleasantly surprised to find his publication ensconced in the place once reserved for the city/empire of Trabzon. That being said, I'm wondering if I'm supposed to place any signficance in the particular location assigned to the publication; perhaps Comrade Commissar's trying to subtly send a message. Tee hee. NB: It had occurred to me that Trabzon occupied a place perhaps similar to Gondor and Minas Tirith, holding back the evils of the foreign lands. Or perhaps not; I after all don't look a thing like Denethor and I don't have a palantir. Much thanks to Comrade Commissar.

Revenge of the Star Wars Quizzes

This one, from Ryan James:
You scored as Darth Vader.
Which Revenge of the Sith Character are you?
created with
Tee hee.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Putting the 'Country' in 'Country Pundit'

Friends and neighbors, your humble correspondent is a life-long fan of the old television program, The Dukes of Hazzard. Heck, who wouldn't be? Fast car, good hearts, "two modern-day Robin Hoods", and a fight against a corrupt local bureaucrat who has his pudgy little fingers in everything. Why do we care, you ask. Put shortly, I'm going to be out of town and on the road this weekend, 'cause I'm headed to DukesFest at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee. Yep, that's right. Your correspondent, a man of (desired) wealth and (questionable) taste is going to be surrounded by a lot of people from Flyover Country, and he will love every minute of it. It's not every day that I get the opportunity to revel in something like this, so I'm rather happy to be going. I'm hopin' to get an autograph of John Schneider---that's all the budget's going to allow--and probably some pictures of various General Lee-configured Dodge Chargers, along with soakin' up the atmosphere provided by lots of fans of this delightful series from the early 1980s. As Hunter Thompson wouldn't have put it, those folks are good people. In honor of this nifty occasion, I've gone and taken a ubiquitous Quizilla quiz, yielding the following result:
Bo Duke
You are Bo Duke. You are caring and carefree. You
suffer from the "Peter Pan Syndrome"
and it doesn't look like you'll be growing up
anytime soon.

What Dukes of Hazzard Character are you?
Y'all have a good weekend; I can't guarantee any sort of weekend schedule. If all goes well, perhaps I'll have a report or two for public consumption in the near future.

Ben Stein Strikes Back

Ben Stein has weighed in on the revelation that W. Mark Felt was the infamous anonymous source "Deep Throat". Mr. Stein's piece is more of the sort that I was expecting to hear. Would that I could have heard G. Gordon Liddy on the subject; it might have actually been worth listening to, unlike his radio program. Mark at Decision '08 calls this piece "appallingly bad". I disagree, but let's take a look at the article: Can anyone even remember now what Nixon did that was so terrible? He ended the war in Vietnam, brought home the POW's, ended the war in the Mideast, opened relations with China, started the first nuclear weapons reduction treaty, saved Eretz Israel's life, started the Environmental Protection Administration. Does anyone remember what he did that was bad? Some on my side of the aisle might say that starting the EPA was "bad", but put that aside for a moment. The 1973 Paris Peace Accords were, probably, a good thing. Retrieving a majority of our POWs is unarguably a good thing. Ending the Yom Kippur war and saving the state of Israel can, I think, be counted as good things. Diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China put another pistol to the head of the Soviet Union, and that's a good thing. Whether that was a good idea now is another issue for another article. Reducing the numbers of atomic weapons is another one of these probably good things.1 Now cometh the snark: Oh, now I remember. He lied. He was a politician who lied. How remarkable. He lied to protect his subordinates who were covering up a ridiculous burglary that no one to this date has any clue about its purpose. He lied so he could stay in office and keep his agenda of peace going. That was his crime. He was a peacemaker and he wanted to make a world where there was a generation of peace. And he succeeded. Mr. Stein is a tad off here---the purpose of the break-in at the DNC HQ in the Watergate Hotel was to gather intelligence on what Lawrence F. O'Brien and others were up to. The 'agenda of peace' bit may be true, but I'm not entirely sure that's what we elect a President to do. It does, however, sound nice. It also rings true to Nixon's remark in his Inaugural Address that "the greatest honor history can bestow is that of peacemaker". As for succeeding in the generation of peace, I suppose that's a defensible remark; Nixon had lived through both of the World Wars, and compared to that, the relatively small brushfire wars of the late 1960s and 1970s weren't of much account. Mr. Stein also takes some shots at John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, which delights me to no end, but I suggest reading them courtesy of the Spectator. Mark's displeased with Stein's assertion that Nixon's enemies caused the fall of South Vietnam and the "killing fields" of Cambodia under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. I see these as more-or-less defensible. We know that RN didn't mind turning the Democratic Republic of Vietnam into a moonscape; this after all is the man who reportedly said, "We're going to bomb the bastards like they've never been bombed before", and promptly did so during Operation LINEBACKER II. "Nixon's enemies" were able to derail efforts to assist the Republic of Vietnam during the resumed efforts of the DRV to conquer it. Thus, I think it's defensible to lay responsibility for the RVN's fall at the feet of the anti-war majority in the Congress at the time. The Cambodian question is a bit more difficult. I'm not going to get into it deeply, but I agree with Stein. Had RN been in office, I bet the Khmer Rouge would have been on the receiving end of a few Stratofortress sorties. Heck, we were already bombing Cambodia in the 1970s, so it wouldn't have been that hard. Nevertheless, both instances were examples of where the American government was paralyzed either as a direct result of the Watergate process or still recovering from it, with a triumphantly anti-Nixon Congress asserting itself against the prerogatives of the President. I don't believe, based upon my understanding of RN, that he would have let the RVN or the Cambodian people go down in flames had he been either a) not bogged down in the defense of his Administration or b) hamstrung by the anti-war types in the Congress. The bogging and hamstringing pretty much occurred courtesy of the Watergate investigations and the subsequent 1974 election results. I find it hard to believe that a portion of the blame can't be laid at Felt's feet for this. Had he not acted out of what amounts to a spoiled brat mentality, then perhaps Saigon wouldn't be Ho Chi Minh City, and the name "Pol Pot" might be some sort of weird name for a kitchen appliance, instead of a blood-soaked name in history. Mr. Stein closes with a rhetorical flourish that I'd consider worthy of Christopher Hitchens, were he a Nixon loyalist. The whole piece is, I think, a proper salvo against the Cult of Felt that is probably en route to being erected. ---- 1 If you've read Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears, you might know why I'm not sure that reductions in the numbers of nuclear weapons are good things. In a nutshell, given the advances in ICBM/SLBM technology, the US/USSR had the ability to start thinking about counterforce strategy, i.e. killing our/their missiles in the silos. When you combine the ability to kill missiles in the silo (a function of accuracy more than yield) with a declining number of targets (through missile reductions) then a crippling first strike becomes plausible. That may, as Clancy's Soviet flag officer put it, increase the probability of a nuclear exchange, even if it's one-sided. That isn't very reassuring. Normally, I tend to be rather flippant about the things---embracing Derbyshire's "I don’t see how you can ever have enough nukes" position---but when push comes to shove, I don't like the bomb.

Manning Makes News

Recent find Laurin Manning has been featured in a piece dubbed "Citizen Web", published in the Free Times, a "free alternative weekly" operating out of Columbia, South Carolina. The piece is on South Carolina bloggers in general, and includes a couple of others in the write-ups. Money quote: "[F]reewheeling, personal touch that gives her site its character and makes it a true blog." I wholeheartedly agree. Plus, she actually uses the word "y'all" in typewritten text. That's classic. Congratulations, Miss Manning.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Narnia Fun

A chap named Colossus has compiled the "Top Ten Signs that Disney is Involved in the New "Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe Movie" Sample quote: "9. Instead of turning dissenting animals to stone, The White Witch turns them into little barrels of oil for her monstrous white SUV." Read the whole thing. Tip of the Executor hat to the Llama Butchers.

What'd She Want to Hear?

Rocketing around the blogroll this morning, I found "Waaa, Waaa Watergate" from our source in the Palmetto State.1 Apparently, Patrick J. Buchanan and Charles W. Colson were on the National Broadcasting Company's Today program to discuss the revelation that W. Mark Felt was the source known as "Deep Throat" for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein at the Washington Post. Laurin notes that she was "appalled" by both their responses, but while she "expected nothing less from Buchanan", she was looking for something else from Colson. Additionally: This would have been the perfect opportunity for the Nixon folks to exhibit decency, aplomb, and maturity while welcoming closure to the Watergate scandal. They miserably failed to do so. Set aside for a minute two things: a) I haven't the foggiest as to what Buchanan & Colson said; a transcript would be appreciated, and b) interviewees are often held hostage to the interviewer's angle; inasmuch as I regard Katie Couric and Matt Lauer as subpar journalists, I'd imagine that it's hard for people to rise above their mediocrity. Send Colson et al to Charlie Rose and we'll see what happens. My question for Laurin is this: What words would you have wanted to hear? I understand (broadly) the sentiments that she expresses, but I'll be darned if I can actually put text to them. It may be that I'm too busy clenching a fist and cursing the name of Mark Felt to figure it out myself, but then that's all the more reason for her to put words in Colson's mouth instead of me. I'm just having a hard time figuring out what charitable utterances could be reasonably expected from the men who had to ride out the receiving end of the firestorm fed by Mark Felt's actions. Had I been in the position of Colson or others who received prison time, I bet my reaction would have involved a couple of uses of the now-famous [Expletive Deleted] device. For what it's worth, I heard Colson on All Things Considered yesterday, and he seemed surprisingly restrained for a man that served time in prison for the affair. He actually says that he's grateful for the period, because it led to his religious conversion and the beginning of his prison ministry program. It was, I suppose, about as gracious a statement as could be expected. Go figure. ---- 1 Somewhere, there is irony in the facts that both the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of South Carolina are deemed "red" States by virtue of their voting patterns, but both of them have blue flags.

J-Pod Strikes Back Out

The loathsome John Podhoretz writes: In its second week at the boxoffice, ROTS's take fell 50 percent from the first week. This is significant because it indicates word of mouth on the movie is lousy and that those who went to see it the first week aren't making a return trip (second and third viewings are the reasons a movie takes the leap from success to blockbuster). Bah. I may be the only refutation of Mr. Podhoretz, but I can say with confidence that I've seen The Movie three times so far, and I intend to go several more times. Three viewings either surpasses or ties my record for Attack of the Clones, and stands second in the overall personal record of "Number of Times Seeing a Movie in Theaters".1 Maybe Podhoretz is just trying to be the contrarian. I don't know for sure, despite reading most of his annoying verbiage on the subject. Enh, who cares? Not every contributor to the National Review is on the order of John Derbyshire, who himself is not faultless. ---- 1 The holder of the all-time record is The Phantom Menace, with between seven and ten viewings, all at the same theater. I saw it numerous times hoping that a good movie would somehow emerge. Much like the kid shoveling manure in hopes of finding a pony, I too was disappointed in the end.

The McCain Bakery

There's a new poll up at Decision '08. Go take it, it's on the top of the page. In the spirit of full disclosure, I selected "hold my nose and vote for [Arizona Republican John S. McCain, III]". In the comments section to the post announcing the poll, I wrote the following: I'd vote for him, holding my nose, complaining, and griping all the while. I believe that some measure of conservative influence could be exerted on him, certainly more than if some nationally-prominent Democrat were in the office. It's the bread and butter of politics; half a loaf is more preferable than no loaf, regardless of what Robert M. LaFollette might have said about the subject. It's an academic discussion, anyways; everyone knows that George Allen's going to be the nominee and President. No, I'm not biased, ha ha. I wrote that and I stand by it, even the part that says George Allen's going to be the next President. (He's a Virginian, I'm a Virginian, do the math...) Now, I suppose some may ask why it is that I'd go holding my nose, complaining, griping, and yet still vote for McCain. My reasoning is simple: There are structural advantages inherent in our political system that reward the party holding office, without regards to the details of the office holder's expression of the party's ideology. You can't take the Republican out of a President McCain, which is what I'm relying upon. A theoretical President John S. McCain would not be able to install intellectual clones of his in every single Presidential appointment. Similarly, he could not nominate too many Democrats to prominent posts while leaving qualified Republicans waiting in the wings simply in the name of bipartisanship.1 The theoretical President McCain would, sooner or later, have to dip into the well of Republicans to fill posts, if he sought to have his nominees confirmed.2 Set aside for a minute the fact that John McCain would probably go on the media offensive with his particular brand of passive-aggressive warfare the instant a Republican Senate did anything that he determined to be feet-dragging.3 Regardless of what he or his supporters might think, John McCain can not operate "in the center" by continuous formation of triangulated coalitions. Bill Clinton managed it for a while, but he was blessed with advantages that McCain does not have.4 A legislative strategy that relies upon the breaking of ranks in both parties is terribly unsound, in my opinion. I don't believe our system is set up to permit such a thing: Sooner or later, party discipline would be reasserted and the defectors on either side would be punished. When this happens, McCain's operational center would evaporate, and he would have to come home to the Republican Party to continue his agenda. Therein lies our half loaf. If Republicans are in the majority, then he'd have to consult with the party because he could just about count on unified Democratic opposition. "John McCain supports free food for the poor and universal health care? Well, we don't." In such a circumstance, he would have no choice but to come back to the GOP for support. If Republicans are in the minority---horrors!---then the same would be true. He would have to, at some level, give the Republicans a seat at the bargaining table in order to hold any semblance of party discipline. After all, there's no reason to march in lockstep if total defeat is inevitable; better to present a unified front in the hopes of getting at least a few of your concerns addressed. From a movement conservative's viewpoint, this kind of calculation is probably intolerable. A McCain presidency would probably not be marked by wholesale enactments of legislation hot off the presses from the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, or the Family Research Council. However, the possibility of enacting some of the legislation exists, and that possibility is larger under a Republican President than a Democratic President. There might not be any grand slams for four runs hit during a McCain Administration, but we'd be on the field putting guys on base and playing what George F. Will might recognize as the steady production of runs through the methodical advancement of runners. That's half a loaf, and I'll take it. Robert M. LaFollette reportedly criticized "half a loaf" because it dulled the appetitite for the whole loaf. He said this to justify his unyielding positions and refusal to compromise. By his theory, Republicans should settle for "no loaf" and refuse to vote McCain in 2008 if it comes to that. (I hope it doesn't.) Call me a party hack---a friend of mine does---but I think I'd much rather have half a loaf on a daily basis than a whole loaf every so often. It is better, I think, that our people are in power. With the McCain Bakery, we have the hope of half a loaf. With the Clinton Bakery, there is no hope of any loaf. We won't even get asked if we want crumbs. ---- 1 I have no inherent opposition to this practice other than to say that it should be carefully and considerately done, with the potential for concrete rewards being more than just a spirit of good feeling and/or praise from the New York Times or Washington Post editorial boards. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's term during the Nixon Administration is my ideal of the way to go about this; William Cohen's term as Clinton Adminstration Secretary of Defense is the polar opposite of it. I'm still not sure why Cohen was nominated, although I can understand---in the model of say Lloyd Cutler and Charles F.C. Ruff that when the President calls, you say "Yes, sir" and do your duty. 2 This is of course contingent on a Republican majority in the Senate. A Senate helmed by Harry Reid would of course change the math. I don't have sufficient information to project how a President McCain would handle a Democratic Senate. Like Han Solo, I'm tryin' not to think about it. 3 This is my primary complaint against John McCain, that he doesn't seem to deal well with reasonable disagreement. Suppose for a minute that I, John McCain, and some other friends were in New York City in the 1950s, trying to figure out how to go to Chicago, and were going to take a train to do so. McCain suggests taking the New York Central's 20th Century Limited. I, preferring the service provided on the Pennsylvania Railroad's Broadway Limited, suggest taking it to Chicago. Now it's up to the group to decide which train to take. McCain's reaction isn't going to suggest that reasonable people have differences of opinion and that while there's a perfectly reasonable case for the Broadway Limited, the Century is preferable. Oh no, not John McCain. He's going to come out and say something on the order of, "My friends, my friends. I believe we should take the Century because it is the best available means of transportation. And oh by the way, Country Pundit over here only suggests the Broadway because he's a dishonest moral reprobate who is in thrall to the Philadelphia interests which hold seats on the Pennsylvania's board of directors." He pulled that little stunt far too many times during the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform debate. I opposed campaign finance reform and took the line of the National Review (as best I remember) because I was worried about serious inequalities in the grants of power given to the established media outlets. I was not, as it were, on anyone's payroll, and I wasn't some corrupt thing oozing my way through K Street and the halls of power. It was an honest difference of opinion, but McCain didn't see it that way. I don't exactly enjoy being fired upon by fellow Republicans, but John McCain seems to have an interest in lining the walls of his office with the heads of other Republicans. I don't have time for that mentality. 4 Among them, a largely compliant media landscape that is dead and gone at this point and an apparent lack of inflexible principles. Whether Clinton simply could put a good face on defeat or was an unprincipled man---both are possible---I don't see McCain being the kind of man who could swing triangulation for long. It takes a wheeling, dealing, not afraid to trade anything mindset. McCain's style seems to be more on the order of "Let me tell you what you'll be giving up to get my support".