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Saturday, July 30, 2005

A Brief Interruption

I'm taking a couple of days off from blogging. A long weekend, as it were. I'll be back Monday or Tuesday.

Check out the blogroll. Or, better yet, spend some time away from the computer. You know you can.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Messing With the Space-Time Continuum

OK, maybe not. But Congress, in their new energy bill, is trying to mess even more with Daylight Savings, and that's close enough for me.
Daylight-saving time would start three weeks earlier and run through Halloween under a change included in an energy bill approved Thursday by the House.

The energy legislation was expected to be passed by the Senate, probably Friday, and sent to President Bush.

The time change is supposed to save energy because people have more daylight in the evening and do not have to turn on lights.
As some Congress Critters pointed out, how much is that really going to save? In the long run? I'm all for saving energy. I'm also about it making sense. I'll be all for it, if you can prove it will work...

What I think is funny is some of the opposition to extending DST.
But that was scaled back after airline officials complained that the extension would cause problems with intentional flight schedules.
Uh... I think they meant "international" flights. And yeah, it will cause a problem... for about a week until they redo all the schedules. That's what computers are for.

Then there are the farmers.
Farmers said the change would adversely affect livestock.
Uh... since when do cows know how to tell time? I think that it's just a little inconvenient for the farmers, and so they're projecting onto the animals. Silly, really.

Like I said, it's fine with me, as long as it works. How about some research first, ok?

Al Gets It Right... Kinda

(Before I get started, I'm going to give a disclaimer. Anyone who reads this and concludes that I'm racist is just plain wrong. Those who know me know that I'm not racist at all. My point of view, however, comes from the fact that I grew up just "up the Hill" from East St. Louis, the "place where cities go to die." Although there are rumblings that the city is making a comeback, I still remember what it was like growing up near there.)

Al Sharpton spoke at the National Urban League's annual conference, and he made some startlingly intelligent comments. He got the reasoning wrong, but the initial statement was valid nonetheless.
Former Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton blasted blacks Thursday for what he described as their blind support of the Democratic Party without demanding anything in return.

Sharpton, during his remarks at the National Urban League's annual conference in Washington, noted that his fellow Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton, have taken African-American voters for granted and failed to act in the best interests of the black community.
Like I said, at first glance, it looks like Al finally figured it out. The DNC has been taking the African-American community for granted since Day 1 (the GOP has been their best friend, but they seem to forget who freed the slaves and who voted for and against Civil Rights legislation back in the 60's), and I'm happy that someone finally started to take notice.

Unfortunately, he didn't quite get it right.
"The whole network of incarceration (of African-American men) happened under this president and the last president. So it wasn't just George Bush. Bill Clinton -- I wish Hillary had hung around -- Bill Clinton built a lot of jails and passed the omnibus crime bill," Sharpton said.
Uh... Rev. ... the omnibus crime bill is not the problem. I seriously doubt the black men incarcerated (African-American males make up 6% of the US population, but 44% of the prison population) are all innocent and are just being targeted unfairly. (No, I'm not saying it doesn't happen- I just doubt that it's epidemic in society today.) There has to be a reason why that happens. I don't believe that African-Americans are any less civil or any more violent, so... what causes it?

If I had to guess, I'd put the blame partially in the lap of do-gooders who tried to do the "right thing" with welfare. They saw poor people (black and white) who needed help, and what could be more caring than to give people what they need, right? But this started a chain of events that they couldn't predict- a culture of entitlement, where people expect to get their benefits just because they walk in the door. (You think I'm making this overly simplistic? I've sat in WIC offices and seen it happen, and my aunt works in an aid office. It happens far too often.)

But, it's not just that. Men in that culture are, in a way, emasculated. There is no need for them, except as a sperm donor. If you're married, you have less access to welfare, so you don't get married. If the father of your children is contributing to their welfare, then you don't get as much money. Then, those kids are raised (not always, but with terrifying frequency) without a father (or with a father with no clear purpose and little or no moral compass), so the boys don't learn what it really means to be a man (to provide for a family, to make committments) and girls don't have a positive model for the right kind of guy to look for. And the cycle continues.

No, this isn't a "black thing". There are plenty of white people (and other minorities, for that matter) who are in the same boat. It's a poverty thing. Liberals, thinking they were doing something good for the downtrodden, set up this system. And now, you have cultural divides as large as the Grand Canyon, and those who speak out in favor of making a better life for their children are racists or traitors (just ask Bill Cosby).

You're right, Al. The Democratic Party has let African-Americans down. They've taken you for granted. But not by putting your young men in jail. They let you down by thinking that throwing money and not solutions at your problems is enough. And, honestly, the GOP won't be much better. This might sound cruel and unfeeling, but... take care of your own. Convince the young men that they need to take responsibility, not the easy way out. Teach your young women to wait for a good man who is willing to commit. Provide a moral framework that is uplifting and encouraging. Discourage anything that drags people down.

Rev. Sharpton gets this part.
Sharpton concluded his discussion with a call for the black community to help itself and return churches to "the center of our community."

"Even if we [are] not responsible for being down, we [are] responsible for getting up," he said. "And if we wait on those who knocked us down to lift us up we'll never get up 'cause if they wanted us up we would have never been down," he said.
And that's not just good advice for the African-American community. Our entire society is falling down that well... that marriage is not important... that Mom and Dad don't do a better job of raising kids than just Mom... We all have a lot to learn.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Dhimmitude... at CBS

(h/t to Mad Dog Vinnie, who found it at Clarity & Resolve)

Does this disturb anyone else as much as it disturbs me?

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Interesting Photoshop, no? Scary, right? Well, yeah... especially since this was part of an online article at CBS's web site.

Obviously, Dan's little "Memogate" was the least of their problems. Who scares me more? The Islamofacists, or the MSM who cover for them?

Update on the Fatwa

Earlier today, in my round-up post, I mentioned the fatwa that American Muslim scholars issued against violence and terrorism. Well... guess what... it's pretty much useless.
In short, it is a fake fatwa designed merely to deceive the American public into believing that these groups are moderate. In fact, officials of both organizations have been directly linked to and associated with Islamic terrorist groups and Islamic extremist organizations.
I should have known better. Oh, well...

Snippits in the News

Here's a few little things I noticed today:
That's all for now... unless I find some other goodies.

Shut Up and Rule

Conservatives tend to get upset when people go far out of their intellectual comfort zone to go political on everyone (Tim Robbins, Babs, Ted Danson, Sean Penn, etc.). And the idea of someone using their chosen profession as a bully pulpit is equally annoying (main stream media comes to mind).

Case in point:
U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour said the successful prosecution of Ahmed Ressam should serve not only as a warning to terrorists, but as a statement to the Bush administration about its terrorism-fighting tactics.

"We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant or deny the defendant the right to counsel," he said Wednesday. "The message to the world from today's sentencing is that our courts have not abandoned our commitment to the ideals that set our nation apart."
Uh... Judge... Ressam wasn't caught on the battlefield in a far away land... he was arrested as he arrived in the United States, planning a terrorist attack on US soil (prior to 9/11). That's a bit different than the fine, upstanding gentlemen who are vacationing at Club Gitmo (after 9/11).

So... I'm angry enough with this judge for taking a jab at Bush Administration policies concerning enemy combatents. But, wait... there's more.
Facing up to 130 years in prison after being convicted of terrorist conspiracy and explosives charges in 2001, Ressam began cooperating with authorities in hopes of winning a reduced sentence... he received 22 years for plotting to bomb the Los Angeles airport on the eve of the millennium... With credit for time served and three years off for good behavior, Ressam could be out of prison in 14 years.
That's a successful prosecution? Not in my book. We thank him for turning into a stool pigeon, but, in a perfect world he'd sit in jail and rot, not get out in 14 years for "good behavior."

Judge Coughenour, you have a job. Your job is to rule on the cases before you based on the merits of the case. Your job is not to provide political commentary from the bench.

Judging the Judge

There's been a lot said already about Judge Roberts and his upcoming Senate confirmation hearings. Is he too conservative? Will he be an "activist" judge? Will he let his religion get in the way of "objective decisions"?

Senator Teddy Kennedy recently said that Judge Roberts' wife should be off limits in the hearing (bully for him). But, he also said this:
Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts "will be expected to answer fully" any questions about his views on controversial issues that could come before the court in the future.
Now, Senator Kennedy has been in the Senate... a while. I'm sure (not) that he remembers the confirmation hearings of Justice Ginsberg, where she refused to answer any questions about how she might vote in the future. Hmmm... and maybe he's forgotten what he said when Justice Marshall was going through his confirmation hearings:
"We have to respect that any nominee to the Supreme Court would have to defer any comments on any matters, which are either before the court or very likely to be before the court," Kennedy said during a 1967 press conference. "This has been a procedure which has been followed in the past and is one which I think is based upon sound legal precedent."
So, Senator, which one is it? Should he be expected to answer those questions, or not? Personally, I'd vote "not", but I don't get a say.

Senator Kennedy isn't the only Senator getting bent out of shape and confused by the whole confirmation process.
In an interview broadcast Tuesday on Vermont Public Radio's "Switchboard" program, Leahy said he would vote against the appeals court judge if it seemed as if he would pursue an activist agenda on the court.
First off, the President said that he was going to choose a nominee that would not legislate from the bench. That's appears to be the tendency of more liberal judges, anyway. But wait... there's more...
"They've knocked down all these, basically writing the law themselves," Leahy added. "I want to find out if he's going to be as active as this — as people like Justice (Antonin) Scalia and Justice (Clarence) Thomas, who have almost willy-nilly overruled things."
You know, Senator, I guess you would think that Justices Thomas and Scalia overruled things willy-nilly. That comes from never actually studying the Constitution. That's their job, Senator- to determine whether law is Constitutional or not, based only on the Constitution. Not on international law, or what feels good, or the way they think it "should be." If that's your definition of "willy-nilly", then I'm fine with that.
Leahy also said any Supreme Court nominee who doesn't agree that Roe v. Wade is established legal precedent would have difficulty getting confirmed.

"Just as you would not have a justice nominee who said, ‘Well I wouldn't consider Brown vs. Board of Education settled law,' I don't see how they could get confirmed," Leahy said. "I don't see how somebody who said that they didn't consider Roe vs. Wade settled law ... I don't see how they get confirmed."
So... Dredd Scott is settled law, right, Senator? Just checking... And, by the way... Attorney General Gonzales isn't so sure about that whole "settled law" thing, anyway...

The Senate should be concerned about his judicial philosophy, not his views on any one topic. His judicial philosophy is simple- he's an originalist who has little patience for judicial activism. Any more questions?

The American Electorate

I found this at Strange Cosmos. They titled it "American Voters", which is quite accurate. But... it made me think... while these are the people who vote, they're also the people who run for office.
While looking at a house, my brother asked the real estate agent which direction was north because, he explained, he didn't want the sun waking him up every morning. She asked, "Does the sun rise in the North?" When my brother explained that the sun rises in the east, (and has for some time), she shook her head and said, "Oh, I don't keep up with that stuff.". . .She also votes!

I used to work in technical support for a 24x7 call center. One day I got a call from an individual who asked what hours the call center was open. I told him, "The number you dialed is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week." He responded, "Is that Eastern or Pacific time?" Wanting to end the call quickly, I said, "Uh, Pacific." . . . . . . He also votes!.

My colleague & I were eating our lunch in our cafeteria, when we overheard 1 of the admin. assistants talking about the sunburn she got on her weekend drive to the shore. She drove down in a convertible, but "didn't think she'd get sunburned because the car was moving." . . . . She also votes!

My friend has a lifesaving tool in her car. It's designed to cut through a seatbelt if she gets trapped. She keeps it in the trunk. . . . . . . My friend also votes!

My friends & I were on a beer run & noticed that the cases were discounted 10%. Since it was a big party, we bought 2 cases. The cashier multiplied 2 times 10% & gave us a 20% discount. . . . He also votes!

I was hanging out with a friend when we saw a woman with a nose ring attached to an earring by a chain. My friend said, "Wouldn't the chain rip out every time she turned her head?" I explained that a person's nose and ear remain the same distance apart no matter which way the head is turned.. . . . . My friend also votes!

My girlfriend and I were picking up some sandwiches from the sub place last week and she asked the clerk which of two sandwiches was better. The clerk didn't have an opinion but did say that the first sandwich was more expensive. My girlfriend got a quizzical look on her face and asked, "If that's the case, why are they both listed with the same price on the menu?" To this, the clerk responded, "I don't think we add tax to the turkey.". . . . The clerk also votes!

I couldn't find my luggage at the airport baggage area. So I went to the lost luggage office and told the woman there that my bags never showed up. She smiled and told me not to worry because she was a trained professional and I was in good hands. "Now," she asked me, "has your plane arrived yet?". . . . . . She also votes.

Submitted by John P.
I'm not sure what scares me more- that these people vote, or that these people can run for office someday. Considering some of the stuff I've heard come out of the mouths of politicians... I think they already have!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Religion in the News

As I was wandering through the news today, I noticed a bunch of articles that had one thing in common- religion (or, in one case, a lack thereof). It was kind of interesting... no, really. I mean it.

I was trying to find some articles about how Judge Roberts' religion (he's Catholic) will probably be held against him. Were the other Justices asked about their religious preferences before they were confirmed? Does the fact that he has a faith beyond this world mean that he is incapable of interpreting law? Just wondering...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Return to Flight

This morning, I'm sitting here, watching the countdown to Discovery's launch. Hearing all those cool acronyms, listening to the experts answer the same questions they've been answering for over 20 years. Watching all the little things that have to happen to get STS into orbit.

T-3:00 repositioning the Main engines (to make sure you can)
T-2:00 the Beanie Cap is moved out of the way
t-1:00 sound suspression armed (all that smoke you see isn't smoke, it's steam from the noise system)
T- :31 shuttle computers have control

Liftoff of Discovery. The vehicle has cleared the tower.

Good luck and God speed. Have a great flight.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Wedding Bells

This morning, we were priviledged to witness the wedding of some friends of ours from church. It was a small ceremony (there were eleven of us, if you count the Justice of the Peace, and 4 of the other people were children), but it was very nice. We went out and ate far too much sushi. Me thinks I'm not cooking dinner tonight.

There ceremony was, like I said, short and sweet. And surprising. It was at the county annex, officiated by a JP. Therefore, I had some (I'm happy to say "false") preconceptions, the most important one being that God wouldn't be brought up.

We arrived at the annex, and the happy couple signed in. We were led into the court room, and then the JP came in. She introduced herself, and everyone made their introductions. I guess when it was mentioned that we're all part of the same Bible study group, that was her green light to bring the Bible into the ceremony.

It was amazing. That woman could be a preacher if she wanted to be. She read a passage from the Bible (1 Cor. 13... go figure), led the couple in exchanging vows, and led us in a prayer. It was wonderful. I expected a very vanilla ceremony with not a lot of emotion on the part of the JP, but she got into it. She said that she loves being able to perform Christian weddings, and you really could tell.

Now, before any of you start in on the whole "separation of Church and State" argument (please don't- you'll lose), remember that this is Texas. To paraphrase Brad Stine, "People in Texas don't care." It's not about what's PC... it's about what's right. Bringing God into a wedding, and into the marriage, is always right.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Light Posting... Again

Um... I've been running around, doing a lot of busy stuff... and tomorrow we're going back to Tinyville for a small gathering. I'll tell you all about it when I get back.

So... go check out the blogroll or something...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Here They Go Again

SkyNews is reporting more possible explosions on the Tube. They also have a bus roped off.

One witness at Warren Street said that a "suspicious" person got onto the Tube, there seemed to be an explosion in his ruck sack, the person exclaimed, and there was smoke.

There is some mention of a nail bomb, but I'd like to mention that, if it was a nail bomb, it didn't go off, 'cause I don't think the guy would be able to exclaim.

One more thing, people are saying they heard shots fired on the platform at Warren Street and they saw someone running from the scene. (Scotland Yard is saying that it was detonators and not gun fire.) Earlier this week, it was reported that police in London were given "shoot to kill" orders if they came upon a terrorist that they feared would detonate another bomb.

Interesting... this is early... I hope they can grab someone this time. And I hope they get a lot of information from him.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Everyone's Wild About Harry

I'm not a big Harry Potter fan. I'll admit it. I admire the fact that J.K. Rowlings has made a cubic ton of cash creating a series of books that kids actually want to read. Woohoo! Kids reading books! Always a good thing. But... I'm just not into magic and wizards and all that stuff. Not my style.

That being said, I'm going to share a few observations about Harry (and yes, you're not going to agree with me... I've talked to several people about some of this, and... well... me thinks I'm almost a lone wolf on some of this... )
What was all of this about? Well, I hate to admit it, but I think I'm beginning to dislike the 24 hour news cycle. They need to fill all of the time, thus turning mundane things that would barely register on the radar into major international incidents. Kids like Harry... and that's ok... there's just need to make that big of a deal out of it.

Sorry 'Bout That...

Sorry about the lack of posting the past couple of days. Been kinda busy. But only kinda. Kinda been a slug, too...

Took T1 for a follow-up with his eye doctor. He has a sore right smack dab in the middle of his cornea. More eye drops, less swimming for a while. If all goes well, he'll get to change to a different eye drop on Thursday when he goes back. Yips. Really.

Tonight is small group, and... well, we're going on the road. We're going to the Funnel Cake Carnival. Hope they don't mind us having a Bible study there. Oh, well...

Tomorrow... not much of a chance of posting, most likely. The boys and I are headed to Tinyville to visit the clan TwoDragon. You never know, though... I might be inspired.

So... check out the blogroll in the meantime.

The Cotillion

Yup... it's Tuesday. Grab a beverage, get comfy, and go cruising around the web with the ladies of the blogosphere!

Our hostesses this week are:
Thanks, Ladies!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Haloscan, We Have a Problem...

Um... if you want to comment... well, I guess just e-mail me. Haloscan is having issues of some sort.

UPDATE: I guess they fixed it.

The Blog Sabbath

It's been a couple of weeks since I've done this. It's Sunday... why are you on the computer?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Uh... Um... I'll Be Right Back

I was going to cruise the news this morning, and come up with something positively brilliant for y'all... but... instead, I'm on my way to urgent care with T1- he's got an eye problem (hopefully, an allergy, but probably an infection of some sort.)

In the meantime, check out my guest post on Andy's site. I'll be back later.

UPDATE: T1 has a corneal abrasion... probably because he forgets to take out his contacts at bedtime. Maybe he'll remember now...

Friday, July 15, 2005

Keeping Promises... NOT

Last year, the US Senate promised to add border patrol agents and detention beds every year for five years. Then, when it came time to budget for them, they didn't quite get it right, and then voted against amendments to fix the budget.
The intelligence overhaul bill that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in December called for 2,000 new agents and 8,000 new detention beds every year for the next five years in order to meet a threat posed by illegal aliens.
Yesterday's votes were on amendments to the Department of Homeland Security spending bill, which funds only 1,000 more agents and 2,240 more detention beds in fiscal 2006.
Sen. John Ensign, Nevada Republican, had called for another 1,000 agents, and Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, called for 5,760 more beds in order to meet the goals set by last year's bill, with both increases being paid for by reducing grants to state and local governments.
The reason why both of those amendments was pretty sound- they wanted to pull funding from first responders. Oh, yeah... that makes sense. But... I bet... if the Senators looked, they could have found the money somewhere.
Instead of enforcing cuts of almost 1 percent on domestic programs whose budgets Congress passes each year - as these lawmakers promised when voting for the budget in April - the Senate Appropriations Committee has actually increased their budgets by about 2 percent.
Ummm... isn't the majority party (the Republicans) supposed to be party of smaller government and lower budgets? Aren't they supposed to be putting an end to pork barrel spending and waste? Oh, well... nice to know our elected officials are mavericks who won't "go along to get along."

What is more important, Senators? Your pet projects or national security? Don't bother answering... your votes tell the tale.

Do us a favor... do what you were elected to do or get out of the way and let someone else (someone who CARES about the future of our nation and the safety of our citizens) do it.

Protecting Our Children...

I just saw this on FoxNews. While the police are right, it's still wrong.
Several parents saw a registered sex offender videotaping children at a Raleigh pool last month, but police told NBC-17 that the man wasn't doing anything wrong.

Carrie Seck said she spotted a suspicious man at the Ridge Road Pool a few weeks ago.

"I saw him secretly taping -- he had a camera hidden -- kids in the pool," Seck told NBC-17, adding that another parent confronted him about it.

"He just said something to the effect of how he liked to tape children in their natural environment, specifically little boys," she said.
There's no law against having a video camera in a public park. If that was the case, parents videotaping their children's antics on the playground would be arrested left and right. So... technically, William Spurgeon Johnson III, convicted in 2003 of sexual exploitation of a minor, wasn't breaking the law.

That being said... we can probably guess why he was videotaping little boys, and it's not because he is a budding artist. Best case scenario, he's using the video tapes of innocent activities to satify his... urges without hurting anyone. Worst case? I'm not even going to think about it.

This is just another reminder to parents to watch out for your children. Teach them well. Warn them of the dangers. Scare them, if necessary. Protect them.

No Sense of Humor...

Let me set the scene for you. It's late March, and a local radion station's morning show is having a contest. You're supposed to figure out how far a couple of H2s have traveled around the city. If you're one of the first 2 at the radio station on a specific date and can tell them the answer, you get a brand spanking new H2.

So... you faithful listen to the morning show, and you track the progress of the 2 H2s. You hire a babysitter so you can be at the radio station bright and early, hoping to win. And the DJs show up... and hand you a remote-controlled Hummer. Look at the calendar... what's the day's date?

April 1sr, of course.
A listener is suing a radio station she said promised her a new Hummer H2 and instead gave her a remote-controlled model as an April Fools' Day prank.

..."They put us on the radio all week long, just portraying how they couldn't believe that we believed they were actually giving away real cars," said Castillo, a Bakersfield housewife. "I just couldn't believe that they would actually humiliate someone like that."
She's joking, right? Radio stations (morning shows, in particular) are always humiliating people on the air- especially on April Fools Day. It's their jobs, for goodness sake.
Castillo's lawyer, Scott Perlman, said the station's misrepresentation of the prizes being offered violated state law and Federal Communications Commission regulations. The lawsuit, filed June 21, seeks $60,000, about the cost of a real H2.

"Any time you conduct a contest you have to be brutally honest about how you're conducting the contest and what you're giving away," Perlman said.
OK... if they were running a real contest, then the lawyer would have had a point. But they weren't running a contest- it was a joke. Nothing more. Nothing less than a practical joke.

It seems as if we've lost our sense of humor. There is such an atmosphere of entitlement that people can't just take things in stride anymore. We're too serious... too touchy... too quick to claim victim status... too quick to sue to get "our fair share."

Maybe we should outlaw practical jokes. Or April Fools Day, at least. It's only fair, right?

Today in History

Thirty years ago today, a Saturn V rocket rose to the heavens from KSC. 45 hours later, the rocket's cargo, an Apollo capsule, docked with a Soviet Soyuz capsule, and the rest, as they say, is history.

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That's Alexei Leonov and Tom Stafford, shaking hands, back in a day when Russians and Americans, as a rule, didn't even talk to each other.
The Apollo-Soyuz (ASTP) mission proved that U.S. and Soviet spacecraft were compatible, despite different measuring systems and air pressure standards. It also more symbolically proved U.S.-Soviet cooperation was possible despite diplomatic tensions.

"It was the very heights of the Cold War, with thousands of nuclear weapons aimed at each country," said retired Lt. Gen. Thomas Stafford, who manned the Apollo with Vance Brand and the late Donald Slayton. "Yet both superpowers had great accomplishments in space, so we decided to work together."

"We were able to succeed because we never got into politics," said Valeriy Kubasov, Soyuz' other cosmonaut of the 1975 flight.
I was only 5 when this happened, so I don't really remember it. But I do remember reading about it when I did get interested in space flight (when I was 7 or 8). I was interested in current events enough that I knew that we didn't get along with the Russians. The whole idea seemed crazy- us? working with them? Nah...

When the historical handshake occured, there was hope of future joint missions (and some even hoped for peace between our countries). The next joint mission did not occur for almost 19 years, however, when Sergei K. Krikalev was a mission specialist on Discovery. One year later, on the twentieth anniversary of the ASTP, Atlantis docked with Mir for the first of several joint US/Russian missions to the Russian space station, paving the way for cooperation on the International Space Station.

Today, we're partners with Russia (along with Japan, Canada, and the European Space Agency) on the ISS. Looks like we've come a long way since a wary handshake thirty years ago.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Hockey's Back?

Well, it looks like the NHL might be back in business. (Y'all have NO idea how much it pains me to link to the Dead Things page, but the Blues' site doesn't have a whole lot of info.)

From what I can tell, the players got the raw end of the deal, and the owners got all the breaks. Whether or not the fans will care enough to come back remains to be seen.

One of the bad things about living in Austin is that we don't have any major league sports teams. We have hockey, baseball, and Arena football, but no big leagues. The good news is that we have sports teams that actually play for the love of the game (and a shot at the big leagues). Minor league games are great (stupid contests during breaks not withstanding). There is a passion for the sport that is sometimes missing when the players (and owners) start getting paid the big bucks.

The NHL has a rough road ahead of them. They need to prove to their fans that they care about the sport and about their fans. They left them out in the cold for over a year (pun intended). They shouldn't be surprised if they get an icy reception.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Some Kids Never Learn

T2 discovered today that our big mutt LOVES pork tenderloin sandwiches... as if the loss of his ham sammich wasn't bad enough...

Kids... they never learn...

Drinking Makes You Stupid

OK... maybe that's not entirely accurate. Drinking makes you prone to do very stupid things. Take this for example:
A drunk Ukrainian who boasted to friends of his amazing strength was left fighting for his life when he picked a fight with a 42 stone grizzly bear.

The 22 year-old man, not named, had been drinking with friends in the town of Cherkask when he decided to show them how strong he was by wrestling with the biggest animal he could find.

They went to the local zoo where he climbed over the railings into the bear cage and started to hit one of them on the leg.

The bear pushed the man away with a swipe of his paw but when the man hit him again the bear pinned him to the ground and began mauling him.
For those of you not familiar with the term "stone"- one stone is equal to fourteen pounds. So... to translate... this yay-hoo climbed into a cage with a 600 pound bear (approx. weight). Rocket science, I tell you!

What's amazing is that the guy is alive. What's even more amazing is that, once he's out of the hospital, he'll probably do this again.

There's a lesson in this for everyone. Friends don't let friends do stupid stuff like this when they're drunk out of their gourd. Or, at least, they SHOULDN'T.

A Quick Movie Review

Just got back from seeing Fantastic 4. Someone had commented that you see most of the action sequences in the previews... yeah... pretty much. The Comish did a great job as The Thing. The guy from Charmed is obviously made to play self-absorbed bad guys. I'd never heard of Johnny, and the guy who played Reed was in King Arthur (but that was all I remember him from). Ah, yes... and then there's Sue... played by Jessica Alba. You guys (read "males") know the only reason most of you want to see this movie is to ogle Ms. Alba in that skin tight jumpsuit. I dare you to deny it.

All in all, it wasn't a bad movie. Not a great movie, but definitely not a bad movie. A bit of a weak script, but the actors did really well with what they had. Special effects were great (duh... if a movie doesn't have good effects, someone should be fired immediately). I'm not sure I'd want to see it again in the theaters, but if the boys get the dvd at some point, I wouldn't leave the room, either.

Speaking of the boys... T1 asked if they were going to make Fantastic 4-2 (only he said "Fantastic Forty-Two"... I thought it was funny.)

Go see it (at a matinee). Not bad for older kids (the bad guy really has some sociopathic tendencies that might freak out little kids). It's worth the cost of the popcorn.

10 Creatures You Didn't Know Were Poisonous

(found at Strange Cosmos) Someone once said, "What you don't know can't hurt you." Here's an argument against that: It is good to know if something is poisonous before you approach it (or it approaches you). We unearthed 10 unlikely poisonous creatures in order to give you a better chance next time you head into the wild kingdom.

1. Hooded Pitohui: The hooded pitohui* of New Guinea is the only documented example of a poisonous bird (yes, a bird). In 1992 researchers discovered that the feathers and skin of the hooded pitohui contain a powerful neurotoxin called homobatrachotoxin, which causes numbness and tingling skin in people who touched the birds. (This one is not completely accurate. Two cousins of the Hooded Pitohui,
the Variable Pitohui and the Brown Pitohui, are also poisonous. Couldn't find a photo of any of them, though.)

2. Stonefish: The stonefish (which looks like--guess what?--a stone) is one of the most venomous vertebrates known. Its sharp dorsal spines contain enough poison to kill an adult human who is unfortunate enough to step on one.

3. Platypus: Will the oddness of this creature ever stop? Adult male platypuses have a poison gland in their hind legs. They can eject poison out of a hollow, horny spur on their ankle. (Ah, yes... the platypus... proof positive that God has an awesome sense of humor. "Evolution, eh? Hey, Darwin! Figure this one out!")

4. Browntail Moth: The browntail moth caterpillar is covered with white and brown hairs. The brown hairs are the ones you have to look out for: They are barbed and contain a poisonous substance, and are frequently carried by the wind after the caterpillars molt. These hairs can cause human respiratory problems and an irritating skin rash.

5. Centipede: One of a centipede's many pairs of legs have especially strong joints and end in a sharp claw into which a poison gland opens. These legs are used for seizing and killing prey. In some species, the bite is poisonous to humans.

6. Stingrays: Believe it or not, stingrays are the most common cause of severe fish stings. They have whip-like tails that have sharp, sometimes barbed spines at the base. Through the spines, they can inflict severe wounds, injecting venom from poison glands. Stingrays are bottom-dwellers usually found in warm, shallow waters, so watch where you walk in the water. (Uh... if they're poisonous, why in the world do people want to swim with them?)

7. Salamander: Some salamanders have poison-secreting glands in their skin. The ones equipped with poison-producing skin glands are often brightly colored with conspicuous markings. This warns predators to stay away. (So is THAT why they want us to leave the Barton Creek salamander alone? That's all they needed to tell us.)

8. Shrew: Some species of the small, shy shrew have poisonous saliva that they use to immobilize their prey. Humans don't have to worry too much, however. These venomous shrews usually eat fish, frogs, small mice, and newts--not people.

9. Catfish: The dorsal and pectoral fins of many species of catfish are edged with poisonous spines. The spines are used for defense and can inflict severe wounds. This fish is no pussycat. (Thus explaining why the only time I'm around catfish is when it's battered and fried.)

10. Poison Arrow Frog: OK, the name kind of gives it away, but the poison arrow frog is only one of several amphibious species that secrete toxins from glands in its skin. The poison arrow frog uses its poison to kill potential predators. Native people of Central and South America use the toxin to poison the tips of arrows.

There you go. Your biology lesson for today. Glad I could help.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Children ≠ Luggage

Imagine for a moment that you're a mom with a dilemma. You have to get your kids to their dad's home several states away. Your car will not fit them all. What do you do?

Here's a hint- you DON'T put your kids in the frickin' trunk!
A mother has been charged with felony child abuse and child cruelty after she allegedly forced two of her children to take turns riding in the trunk of a car on an eight-hour drive from Alabama to Virginia.

Cheryl Ann Schoonmaker, 38, forced the two girls, ages 8 and 10, to take turns in the trunk July 1 because there wasn't enough room in the car, according to Curtis Schoonmaker, her ex-husband.

The woman was driving five children, including an infant, to her ex-husband's home outside Washington, D.C. None of the children was injured during the trip. The girls told their father what happened the next day and he called police.
Well, let's see... one of the five children was a family friend- that one could have stayed HOME. The oldest of the remaining children could have been seat-belted in the front seat. (Yeah, I know- the oldest is 10- illegal to have in the front seat. Well, so is sticking your kid in the TRUNK!) Then there would have been plenty of room for the other three in the back.

Yeah, I'm a little upset about this. A friend of mine has joked that you should be required to have a license before you have children. I'm very much against that. But there are some days...

I ran my kids' lives through my head, and I'm pretty darn convinced that I've never done anything remotely close to this. I'm not a perfect parent- far from it. But... I would never endanger my children's lives (or anyone else's kids, for that matter) like this DNA donor did. I mean, I remember when the boys were babies- I was panicky because we had the boys facing forward from Day One (because the car seats wouldn't fit into the car the other way). I felt terribly guilty when I blew off T2's headaches as just allergies when they were really migraines (because I didn't think that little boys could get them). The idea of putting them intentionally in harm's way is just beyond me.

This woman... well, first of all, she should have her parental rights terminated if she is convicted (because, granted, we only have the kids' side of the story so far.) And not just for the 3 she had with the ex-husband. The baby should be taken away, too. And, then... she should have to do community service in the morgue... seeing the damage that car wrecks can do to little bodies.

Children are a gift... a blessing. Not a piece of luggage.

Let's Look at the News

There are a lot of little tidbits in the news... shall we have a look?

Well... that's it for now.

Taking a Turn Around the Dance Floor

It's Tuesday, so it's time, once again, for the Cotillion. Please visit our hostesses Christina, Sissy, and Cassandra.

Monday, July 11, 2005

And They Wonder Why Therapy is Suspect?

"Head shrinkers"... "witch doctors"... "voodoo"... "quacks"... just a few terms of endearment I've heard referring to counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists. And with stories like this, I can see why...
A German man has been arrested after a marriage guidance counsellor advised him to run around naked shouting at trees. Dieter Braun, 43, from Recklinghausen said the stress release technique had worked perfectly until he was arrested. He told police that venting his anger on the trees had stopped him shouting at his wife.

"If I didn't go to the woods and scream at the trees then my marriage would probably be over," he said. He added taking his clothes off at the same time made him feel more relaxed.

"For me it's a type of relaxation therapy. Feeling the breeze on my naked skin really calms me down."

But local police said other visitors to the forest did not find his behaviour relaxing and have now charged him with causing a public nuisance.
Causing a public nuisance? How about Dieter pay for therapy for all the people exposed to his "relaxation therapy"? And... if his wife hasn't left him already, she might need some help, too.

Therapy can help people. I have nothing against genuine counseling to get to the root cause of a patient's problems. It's just stuff like "yell at trees" that gives genuine counselors a bad name. (And, before you start harping on me... sometimes yelling at inanimate objects can release stress. Then again, so does hitting a punching bag- and... um... you don't have to do that nekkid.)

Saturday, July 09, 2005

I Could Have Told You That

Researchers have spent tons of money studying identical twins, and they've reached the same conclusions that any parent of identical twins could have told you for a lot less cash. What is this snippet of knowledge that has elluded the scientific community until now?

Identical twins are not all that identical.

First, I guess I need to provide my credentials to prove I'm an expert, right? Well, here:

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T1 (in blue) and T2 when they were about 3

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The boys at age 8 or 9 (T1 on left)

They look identical to me! Granted, I've never had their DNA tested- I don't think I really need to. Given their looks, and some specific mirror qualities, I'm pretty confident that they're identical. (More on that later...)

Now, on to our "news".
Identical twins are not quite as identical as once thought, according to a new study of DNA.

Life, it seems, changes everyone in unique ways.

One twin might get cancer while the the other is not susceptible, for example. Many identical twins clearly behave differently as they grow older, and some even grow to look less alike.

Such differences have to do not with the twins' identical DNA, which is the software of life, but in how genes express themselves, the research found. The differences stem from chemical modifications in the genes over the years.

These epigenetic effects, as they are called, are the result of chemical exposure, dietary habits and other environmental factors, the scientists believe.
I actually know of one set of identical twins (DNA test to prove it) where the twins had different color hair and eyes. That mutation occured before they were born. As for my own person research subjects... T2 used to get migraines (I cannot say enough wonderful things about the fine folks at Austin Childrens' Hospital- they fixed him!) and T1 never got them. T1 has a weird allergy that affects his eye, but T2 has standard issue respiratory allergies. And personality? They are very different.

A lot of the studies done on identical twins concentrate on twins that grew up separated from each other at birth (or shortly after.)
In 2001, scientists documented that identical twins with different diets had corresponding differences in blood cholesterol measures. A study in 2002 found that identical twins tend to differ greatly in their levels of emotional distress, depending on how close each was to their mother or whether they attended church, among other social factors.
But, I can see a lot of the same differences between T1 and T2, and, well... they're always together. Same food, same caregivers, etc. Because of T2's migraines, he didn't eat as much as T1 for a few months (any of you with migraines understand completely), and he's never really caught up. He's about an inch shorter than T1, and about 15 pounds lighter. T1 has a much more cautious personality (I'm resisting the urge to say "more responsible"- Iguess it's a first born thing, even if it was just over a minute's difference). T2 is far more "jump off the cliff then check for a parachute". (That goes back to when they were babies- T1 just sat there and watched T2 fall all over the place, trying to walk. Once T2 had figured it out, T1 just got up and walked. From what I could tell, he was learning from his brother's mistakes.) T1 is pretty reserved, pretty quiet, and T2 is... not. They even sound different on the phone.

But then there are the very identical (well mirror) things about them. Their hair parts on opposite sides. They lost their baby teeth in the same order, but on opposite sides (it makes sense if you think about it). They each had an "extra tooth" over their front teeth that had to be removed (on opposite sides, but it's still very rare- kind of freaked out their dentist).

There was one thing in the article that caught me off guard, although, after I thought about it, it makes perfect sense.
The youngest set of twins had the most identical genomes. Genetically, the oldest twins were the least alike.
Like I said, it makes sense. The boys were very close to identical when they were babies (I kept T2's ankle bracelet from the hospital on for as long as possible, just to tell them apart). But, as they've gotten older, little differences become more obvious. (Right now, their size difference makes it pretty easy to tell them apart.) So, I can see how their genomes will alter even more over time.

But, this makes me wonder. How much do the average singleton's genomes change throughout one's life? How many mutations do our bodies experience in the course of our days? Which ones are pre-programed, and which ones are caused by circumstance? What can we learn from this?

I understand the "need" for research like this- it helps scientists determine nature/nurture (in a lot of cases) and it helps look at genetic predispositions for some diseases. All I'm saying is that parents of identical twins could have told you most of that for the price of a phone call.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Honoring Last Requests

This might seem kind of morbid, but... kind of cool. And just plain weird.

A while bad, some of us were sitting around, and the subject of funerals came up. Kind of bizarre conversation, really. In the end, we agreed (I guess) that viewings are just plain weird (but probably necessary) and that there had to be a better way of celebrating the deceased's life. Throw a party. Play some games. Yes, there needs to be a time for grieving, but there needs to be a time to rejoice for the person they were and the better life they've gone on to.

So... fast forward to today and this article about one person's unique last request.
In silk black-and-gold pajamas, velvety black robe and slippers, James Henry Smith is at rest.His feet are crossed, his pack of cigarettes and a beer by his side. Steelers highlights are playing on a high-definition TV screen nearby. With the TV remote in his hand, leaning back in his recliner, a Steelers blanket across his legs, it's like a game-day Sunday.

Except that it's not.

It was last night at Samuel E. Coston Funeral Home in Lincoln-Lemington, and family and friends were filing in to pay their final respects to Smith, whom they called one of the biggest Steelers fans in the universe.

Smith, 55, of Garfield, had been ill for two years with prostate cancer. He died last Thursday at the VA Medical Center in Oakland.

A week before, his wife, Denise Finn Smith, had called Coston's to ask if something special could be done to celebrate her husband's life. He wanted to be at home, in the living room, surrounded by photos of family and watching football.

Like I said, this is kind of cool. I think it's great that the funeral home was able to honor this man's wishes. It honored his life and his loves (his family and football). It gave the mourners a reason to smile.

I'm sure that some people would think this was frivolous and making light of a serious subject. And I'm sure that not all people would want that, or that all families would be able to handle it. Even I think the recliner was a little over the top.But that's ok. It wasn't my funeral or the funeral of anyone in my family. And the funeral director did day it was an unusual request.

Where am I going with all of this? Love people while they're with you. Honor them when they're gone. Tears will fall, but smile through them, and celebrate their lives.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London Terror Attacks

By now, everyone has heard about the terror attacks on the London public transit system. There are conflicting reports on how many explosions there have been.

One thing that struck me was the calm of the Londoners caught up in this. They rushed out of the Tube stations, but they were calm and in control. Obviously the monsters who organized these attacks weren't watching the news before they issued this statement:
"Our mujahideen have carried out a blessed invasion in London and here is Britain now burning with fear and terror... We have repeatedly warned Britain and have kept our promise."
No... they are not burning with fear and terror. They're level-headed and unflappable. You might have succeeded in killing innocents (your typical M.O.), but that's all you've accomplished. They're not afraid of you. They survived German bombing during WWII and years of terrorist attacks by the IRA. The only new thing you bring to the table is your personal brand of evil. They'll get through this. It's what they do.

After 9/11, the English stood by us. For just a moment, they were American, too. Bull Moose suggests that, in a show of solidarity with our allies, the ones who have stood by us, we are all Brits now.
This is a time that should force our own leaders to acquire perspective. Whatever partisan differences we have between us, our nation continues to face a terrorist threat. ...The fight against terrorism is this generation's "1776". Paradoxically, though, perhaps a public display of the Union Jack in America is in order.
This isn't a progressive thing or a conservative thing. Standing by our friends when they need us is simply the right thing to do.

If I had a Union Jack, I'd fly it. Maybe I'll try to find one. Where would I get one in Austin?

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UPDATE: (11:35am) Now there is some indication that the internet post claiming responsibility for the attacks might be a hoax. But... why? For their 15 minutes of fame? Or to throw authorities off the scent of the real perpetrators?

Tell Me Something I Didn't Know

From Baboon Pirates, we have this little personality disorder test. Yes, I took it. Hmm... looks like I'm mildly histrionic and dependent. Oh, yeah... and that O/C rating of "high." At least it wasn't very high, right?

If you'll excuse me, I need to go alphabetize something.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A New Take on Spiritual Warfare

I had no idea what "spiritual warfare" was before I started attending evangelical churches. In Catholicism, spiritual warfare is pretty much left to the Jesuits. So... it took me a little while to get used to the idea. For those of you unfamiliar with it, here's what Wikipedia has to say about it:
According to some beliefs, spiritual warfare is the interaction of persons with the angelic and demonic realms in positive or negative ways (e.g. exorcism). Spiritual warfare is a prominent feature in some pentecostal and charismatic churches. Spiritual conflict (less than "war") exists thoughout Christianity (e.g.prayer).

The concept of spiritual warfare is based on the understanding that Satan and demons are real beings whose primary mission is to thwart God's purposes on earth, specifically to prevent non-believers from placing faith in Christ and to prevent Christians from being effective disciples of Jesus . The Scriptural basis of spritual warfare is found in Christ's commissioning of the disciples to cast out demons in the gospels and the Apostle Paul's exhortation to don the armor of God in the Epistle to the Ephesians. St. Paul tells us there that our battle is not with flesh and blood, but with the principalities and powers (fallen angels).

What does this have to do with anything? Well, there's a church in Rocester, NY, that's taking spiritual warfare to a whole new level.

You have probably never seen an army missile used in a church service or a pastor dressed in fatigues, but that is exactly what you'll find Sundays at New Born Fellowship Christian Center in Rochester, where church leaders have decided to conduct a new program called Spiritual Warfare.

...Pastor Meeks said, "We take our liberty for granted. A price was paid. So we want to assist them spiritually in prayer."...The program focuses on prayer for American soldiers and for city teenagers who are fighting temptions of drugs and gangs.

OK... so it might sound a little cheesy. But... if it's energizing his congregation and encouraging them to pray for those who need it, I say more power to him.

Sometimes we need a reminder to help us focus on God and prayer. Sometimes all we need is a little nudge, and sometimes we need a missile in church. Whatever works, I guess.

Old Fuddy Duddies

I'm convinced that these people were never kids. They couldn't have been.
Whitestown and New York Mills police have received complaints of loud music played by the Albany-based ice cream vendor Mr. Ding-a-Ling, which has routes in and around Utica.

As a result, a manager for the company said the ice cream truck won't drive through New York Mills until a compromise is reached.

....On May 20 in Whitestown, the driver was charged with using a noise device to sell ice cream and selling after permitted hours.

....New York Mills Police Chief Bradley Frankland said the village has a law that prevents peddlers and solicitors from using noise to sell their goods.

"This has been going on for three years," Frankland said. "It's not a thing against Mr. Ding-a-Ling or private enterprise. It's that these are the rules."

New York Mills noise laws prohibit "noise from any sound reproduction system ... that reproduces or amplifies sound in a manner as to be heard 60 feet from its sources or over any property line," according to the village code book.

The law is similar in Whitestown: A peddler such as Mr. Ding-a-Ling cannot "blow a horn, ring a bell or use any other noisy device to attract public attention to his or her wares," the town code book says.

....In Whitestown, a number of residents complained about too much noise and the hours of operation, Police Chief Donald Wolanin said.

"Some were concerned the ice cream man might come at 9 p.m. and it might be getting too late for a 10-year-kid to be going over to an ice cream truck," Wolanin said.

Come on, people! Ice cream guys (or the "Bomb Pop Man" as my grandpa used to call him) don't drive around after dark. They understand that the parents make or break them. They're the ones who give their kids the money to spend on the yummies in the truck. They're not going to do anything to blow it.

Getting goodies from the Bomb Pop Man is part of growing up. Way to go, folks. Ruin it for your kids. Yeah, the songs are annoying (but think of the poor guy who gets to hear it 10-12 hours a day every day). But... they're just trying to make a living, the same way they have for decades.

mmm... bomb pops... dang... now I'm hungry.

An Honest Scientist

That's not to say that most aren't. I mean, it's not like they're politicians or anything. But, still...

Scientists are going to try to recreate the Neanderthal genome. (Why they couldn't just go to a sports bar is beyond me, but I digress... ) Why would they do that?
In an interview with the German weekly Die Zeit, Rubin said the research would amount to more than just a spectacular display of science.

"Firstly, we will learn a lot about the Neanderthals. Secondly, we will learn a lot about the uniqueness of human beings. And thirdly, it's simply cool," Rubin said. (emphasis mine)
Like I said... an honest scientist. I mean, you don't really think they tossed a washing machine into space into the path of a comet for purely scientific purposes, do you?

Why Beauty Pageants?

So... at the regularly scheduled OFPAC (Old Farts Political Action Committee) coffee clatch/summit this morning, the subject of beauty pageants came up. Dad asked why there are so many pagents... and... more importantly, why do they call it "Miss Universe" when someone from Earth always wins?

Hmm... why are there so many pageants? Girls are entered into Miss Cupcake pageants at the age or 3 or 4, and they just go from one to the next. They have everything from Miss Watermelon at some county festival to Miss X County to the states, Miss USA, Miss America, Mrs. America, every country (well, every country without burka rules), Miss World AND Miss Universe. And we can't forget Miss Earth. What's the deal?

Beauty pageants might be able to trace their roots back to May Day festivals in Europe. P.T. Barnum tried to have one in the 1850s, but it was shut down due to public outcry. "Bathing beauty pageants" began in 1880 to promote business in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Over the years, the pageants developed into what we know today, but they didn't gain respectability until World War II.

But... why are there so many today? I, honestly, cannot think of any reasons. They have no moral, social, or economic value. It could easily be argued that they actually have a negative impact socially and morally. They teach young, impressionable girls (and their stage-parents) that their only value is how they look, not who they are. They teach young, impressionable guys that ogling women and judging them on their looks is perfectly acceptable. Sure, the girls in the pageants have to be of a certain moral and academic caliber (although you'd never know it based on some of their interview answers), but the kids who watch the pageants on tv don't know or care about that.

So... what do you think? Why are there so many pageants these days? And... do I really need to tell y'all to keep it clean?

The Weekly Dance Lesson

This week at the Cotillion, you have your choice of a jig, a dance of youth, the pogo, and some good old whatever-that-was-we-used-to-do-in-the-early-80s. Go, visit them all. Get to know some of the (conservative) ladies of the blogosphere.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Winning the Lottery

What do you think of when you think about winning the lottery? Buying lots of toys? A new house? Traveling to exotic locations? New cars? Boats? Luxury?

How about a new life? In 1998, the United States offered a lottery for Cubans who were not officially eligible for refugee or immigration status. Recently, a family, winners of that visa lotto, were finally allowed to come to America. Yesterday was their first 4th of July. Val tells a little of their story, and of the culture shock they must be experiencing.
I cant imagine what thoughts were bouncing around in his head after having just brought his wife and daughter to a new country, one where he knows but what the government of his old country had told him about. I cant imagine what it was like for he and his wife to walk into a Publix supermarket here for the first time. Or what it is to them to be able to sleep with air conditioning every night and always have some stuff in the icebox. Or to swim in a pool owned by a family member and not a hotel.

It was rather appropriate, I thought, that this family that just arrived from Cuba a few days ago was able to join us in celebrating not only Pat's birthday, but Independence Day. And while they knew yesterday was a national holiday, they didnt really know exactly what was being celebrated. I gave them a brief explanation on the significance of the day. Told them about the Declaration of Independence and what it means to this country.
This made me think. We take so much here for granted. It's sad, really. We won the lottery, just by being born here. But often, we don't realize just how rich we are, because we never knew how bad it could be (and is) for so many others. I'm not just talking about material things- that's obvious. We have so many freedoms and so many opportunities... things that would never even enter the minds of people in some nations. It's humbling when you really think about it. We are truly blessed.

I want to wish this family a warm welcome and the best of wishes. Welcome home!

As Val said, - La vida, la libertad y la busqueda de la felicidad. (Do I really need to translate that for everyone?)

A Correction

Not long ago, I posted about Denzel Washington's trip to Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio. Evidently what made Page 6 of the NY Post wasn't exactly true. Slagle has the details.

In a nutshell... yes, he visited the hospital. Yes, he supports the troops. Yes, he did make a sizable contribution to the Fisher House. No, he did not whip out his checkbook on the spot and write a check to cover the cost of building one.

So... an e-rumor wasn't quite right. In this case, that's ok- he's still a good guy in my book.


I got this via Denita... and... this can't be right? Only 86%???
You Are 86% American
You're as American as red meat and shooting ranges.
Tough and independent, you think big.
You love everything about the US, wrong or right.
And anyone who criticizes your home better not do it in front of you!

How American Are You?

Hmmm... oh, wait... I know... I should have checked "NASCAR and wrestling" unstead of "football and baseball"... I guess... but, I'll take it!!! (What's weird is that the explanation sounds like 100% American, not 86%... weird... )

Monday, July 04, 2005

Things That Go Bump In The Night

Well, I guess it would be more of a "squish" than a "bump".

Yeah, I stayed up to watch Tempel 1 run over the Impactor. So did the boys. They even woke their dad up for the festivities. That was so cool!

Here's a video of images taken by the Impactor as it came face to face with its destiny. I wonder if it had that "deer-in-the-headlights" look right before it went splat on the surface...

A Military Ball

The Ladies of the Cotillion decided to honor our milbloggers who are defending the freedoms we celebrate today. Some are funny, some are serious, but all of these bloggers keep us connected, even if in just a little way, with the military.

So... I'm wandering through the MilBlogs Community, and come across a few names I hadn't heard before... Graham's Journal... Going Down Range... Firepower Forward... Click on a few links... hey, why have I NOT heard of these guys? They're good...

Graham recently gave a moving tribute to three men from Bravo Battery. So often, for those of us who are Stateside, it's difficult to put a personal touch to the losses in war. But, as he points out, we shouldn't forget...
Everyone in America should know that these three were good guys who really deserved better. I know it's hard for average Joe American to find room in his heart for sympathy for three guys when the death toll for this war tops sixteen hundred. But one shouldn't give into the temptation to dwell only on numbers and forget the individual sacrifices made.
B from Going Down Range has some very cool photos from Afghanistan, as well as some very good commentary. And I love his quotes!!
Quote: “It might develop into a JDAM party.”
Quote: When you run out a whooa, call an air strike.
Firepower 5 is also in Afghanistan. His description of "Stalag 17" and his obvious... um... dislike for certain other branches of the military...
I have come to make peace. I hereby retract every evil, mean, or snide comment I have made about the Air Force. I will hereby render proper respect to our Nomex clad brethren and will no longer use the term “Crew Rest” in a disparaging manner. I now see the true mastery of their evil genius and stand in awe of their diabolical ways. I truly did not appreciate the breadth and depth of the vindictive power of his unholiness, the Evil Flight Planning Voo-Doo Witchdoctor until I saw Short the Great wither, reduced to near madness at the stroke of a button.
...well, his posts swing from hilarious to serious and hit everything in between.

Gentlemen, thank you for your service to our country. Thank you for putting your lives on the line so that we can be free.

A Little Bit of Science History in the Making...

I had the NASA TV feed on for the last 3 hours, just to make sure I would be able to see the main event.

For those of you who haven't been paying attention, Deep Impact smashed into the Tempel 1 comet exactly as planned, spraying space dust all over the place. As far as I can tell, JPL nailed it. The photos coming back from the Impactor as it closed in on the comet were amazing, and those was just the raw data. Then the impact photos from the flybycraft started coming in, and JPL's control center went bonkers.

The photos that will come in during the next few minutes will be run through filters for the best possible resolution. Then they'll all be examined again and again until scientists (and space junkies) learn all there is about this particular comet.

Congrats, JPL! You got another one right! Peanuts all around!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

A Loss in the Cotillion Family...

I'm just going to copy/paste the Cotillion post... Jody said it all...
As any blogger can tell you, eventually blogging becomes a community and some bloggers become family. You look forward to seeing your favorites each day and hearing what they have to say. One of our "sisters", An American Housewife, recently suffered the loss of her husband. Although we can't be there physically to hold her hand; we would like to help her family. Please click here to contribute:

Donations for Carol and her children

Our thoughts and prayers are with Carol and her family.

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