Monday, July 31, 2006

LaShawn Barber Update on Duke Rape Case

The DA is "sorry". He's sorry all right.

Keep Your Watermelon Out of the Fridge

Because I said so!

S.F. Hung Jury in Dog Mauling Death of 12 Year Old

What do you people think? Should a mother be held responsible for her learning disabled son's death when she left him alone with a dog she knew was aggressive and potentially dangerous--so much so that she had him bar the door to the basement where he stayed to block the dog? There was no bathroom down there, so the boy would have to deal with the dog if he had to go?

What should the verdict be?

Old Men + Feeble Sperm = Miscarriages

Interesting research, actually. Women are often the focus of fertility issues, but men are the cause of problems in 50% of the cases. Now, it looks like they are implicated in birth defects and miscarriages. Hmmmmm........ So, if you want kids, get married younger and have kids sooner.

Minimum Wage & The Estate Tax

Suddenly, they're kissing cousins. So many things make sense inside the beltway. So a weird bill bumping up minimum wage by $2 and eliminating estate taxes for all but the overwhelmingly rich just might get passed. Or not.

We Need Two Incomes to Survive

No you don't. You need two incomes to get all the stuff you want. And that's a fact. My thoughts moved to this topic while reading Betsy Newmark's husband Craig's post about all the junk kids take to college these days. They have lots of stuff. Lots and lots of stuff.

Their parents have stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. Why? Well these kids are the first generation who, as a whole, have both parents working. The younger boomers kids are going to college and taking all the stuff that was supposed to make up for the lack of time. It's no wonder their dorm rooms are full. Their parents know no end of guilt and things.

Another thing: lots of these kids have a couple sets of parents eagerly outdoing each other in the "I'm the greatest parent" department. This competition nets the kids more anxiety, anti-anxiety medication and therapy, and yes, stuff. So they go to college with flatscreens and iPods and the latest cell phone, and still don't know who to call when times get tough emotionally. Money? Money can be had. A listening ear? Well, that is fraught. Dad or Mom might find out that the other gets more phone calls.

This divorce and remarry thing also causes this: since marriages are hardly forever these days, women continue working "just in case". It is wise to do this. A woman's standard of living plunges when she gets divorced while the former husband's goes up. But this, I think causes marriage problems, too. Both parents running around, the extra few minutes spent with the kids and then no time for each other....leads to long lunches with Bob or Barb in Sales. Which causes another divorce.

I am not saying that women working is wrong. I am saying that it is unrealistic to believe that there aren't some relational trade-offs. I am saying that with no one putting the kids first except in superficial activities and things, teaches the kids that things matter more than people. I am saying that there is a connection with working to the bone for the best address, latest style "fill-in-the-blank" and nicest car. This behavior does take its toll.

I read a feminist article (can't find the link) about how the trend of moms working isn't going to change, the economics won't let it. And so, the government must step in to help parents out. Oh yeah, that's what we need. A whole segment of society hardly counts the costs of having a child as things are now. Can you imagine the results if childcare were heavily subsidized? And what in tarnation besides building bridges and roads, is the government all fired excellent at? Keep thinking.

While there are some families plugging away at minimum wages, both working, barely scraping by, etc., these same people have two car notes, a satellite dish and 500 Cable stations. Don't forget the computers. Don't forget the TVs in every room. Don't forget the zillion DVDs. These people aren't sitting around without heat and running water and playing cards with the extended family in candlelight 'cuz they lack the resources. That's poor.

What is needed these days is 1) reworked priorities 2) sucked up pride and 3) perspective. What is more important? Two brand-new cars or a mom or dad at home with the kids? What is more important? Looking as good as everyone else or living your own life? My husband drove the Chevy Cavalier we bought on our honeymoon to work at the Medical Building for three years. That old rattle-trap was/is a good car (we gave it to some people who needed a vehicle and they have it running good as new at 15 years old!). Couldn't see taking on a car payment because it is embarrassing to be a doctor driving a hunk o' junk. But that hunk allowed me to stay home with the kiddos. So you do what you have to. Most of us have it pretty good. Even less well-off folk do okay by the world's standards. In addition, staying at home with the kid isn't forever. Kids do grow up, go to school, move on and it happens faster than anyone believes possible. Sacrificing for a few years can make a huge difference later.

Sacrifice? Ha, ha, ha! What a quaint notion. Living at a level less than my neighbor? Why, that's unthinkable. Going to college without the comforts of home. As if!

Kids are only doing what they see. They have learned their parent's priorities very well and things rule.

Liposuction Death In A Basement

Liposuction is one of the most dangerous, if not most dangerous cosmetic procedures with a doctor in a hospital who knows what he's doing. If your neighbor suggests coming to his basement for a little touch-up, I would decline. AND RUN TO THE PHONE AND CALL THE COPS! What are people thinking?

Scott Adams Solves the Mideast Problem

You think I'm kidding?

Instapundit's Guest Bloggers

Interesting. There are two women and two men. The women Ann Althouse (whom I read every day) and Megan McCardle (whom I've never heard of before. Check that, I have heard of her blog and read it on occasion--Asymetrical Information) introduced themselves with long, wordy posts. The men, Michael Totten (whom I read weekly) and Brannon Denning (whom I have never heard of before and couldn't find a bloglink to) adapted to Glenn's style--spare, pithy quote, link--even though, in Michael Totten's case, anyway, he at least is more an essayist.

What gives? Is it a gender-driven style even in the written form? More words, more relational? Because while I honestly don't have penis envy, this is one area where I really appreciate men. Economy of words. Minimal kvetching. Not long on background. (Not all men are this way, but since I'm generalizing here.)

Another theory: Or, are the men subbing for Glenn more socially adaptable? That is, are they aware that while their style is longer winded they know Glenn's isn't and want to appeal to Glenn's readership by staying within the confines of his style? This would go against generally accepted gender norms, wouldn't it? Women are more well-known for twisting into pretzels to make everyone comfortable.

In short, I like Glenn's spare approach. Occasionally he'll offer more rounded opinions, but most of the time he throws out one-line zingers that say what I tried to in five paragraphs. The best writers (I'm a huge Hemingway fan) seem very good at saying a lot without saying everything.

Instapundi guest bloggers--a living homage to gender studies.

Worst Person on the Right

Not that John Hawkins asked me, but (and this is shocking) I do have an opinion about this. My answer: John McCain. Why? Let me count the ways:

  1. He's an egomaniacal, self-serving toad mascarading as an independent thinker.
  2. He believes conservatives are stupid.
  3. He will say and do just about anything to get a vote--he is Hillary Clinton's mirror image.
  4. He can't be trusted. Because he doesn't trust the people.
  5. He's vengeful and always seems just this side of stable. He makes me nervous.
  6. He thinks the press are his friends and will elect him.
There are more reasons that he is the worst person on the right. Basically, I feel that he has a general contempt for the common man. That grates. It seems to be a trait any life-long Senator possesses. He possesses this trait in spades.

Berlin: Defacing the Holocaust Memorial

More of these things will happen folks. You watch. The mask and charade will drop as Israel asserts itself. Not only is anti-semitism politically expedient because it salves the European Muslim population, the ancient deep well of Jew-hatred still houses plenty of nasty water. In addition, people sick of feeling guilty about WWII and sick of their lack of national pride, let go of the former and asserted the latter during this last World Cup.

Nationalism is back in Europe. It is not the same kind of thing that Americans view as patriotism. U.S. patriotism does not translate into fevered displays of craziness. Others have talked about it before, but because the U.S. is big and has regions and states, there are internal rivalries that mean far more to us than any other national rivalry. Showtown verses Motown. East and West. North and South. Blue State-Red State. Different. Diluted. Everyone is American. Yet everyone has their own identity. E Plurabis Unim. It's the "many" that dilutes the "crazy". It is different in Europe.

That's not to say that America doesn't have her own problems. The biggest: denial. The Seattle attacks once again, reinforce the notion that there are those among us who don't love us. It's hard to imagine, I know. America is such a big teddy bear (or murderous monster depending on your political views) that it couldn't possibly have terrorists getting groomed and ready to go here.

Because America has been relatively safe, or saved in the nick of time by an alert government, since 9/11, some believe no threat exists. And yet all the evidence shows that view to be patently absurd. The press, either purposefully trying to rob the administration of any glory or because they just don't deem the news important or through some social betterment view, hardly report the terrorists in our midst (not to be confused with the gorillas in the mist). I think that they inadvertantly help the future fight: terrorists love press. They use the press to deliver their terror, to propagandize the public and to invoke more fear. But the press finds it politically incorrect to impugn someone for their crazy beliefs and actions and so they don't cover the actions at all. It's uncomfortable to pass judgement against clearly reprehensible behavior 'cuz there is no right and wrong--just feelings. (Okay there is right and wrong, but these terrorist "aberations" conflict with pure progressive dogma so it gets less play.)

Because the press doesn't cover the terrorism, the affect is diminished. The press does this with teenage suicide because of the known pattern of copy-cats that happen after almost every incident. So, to save kids and families, the press doesn't cover these horrible deaths. Now, I don't think the press' motivation is nearly as pure when it comes to terrorism, but the effect may be the same. Reduced copy cat craziness.

Well, this was a rambling post: from European nationalism to American stick-your-head-in-the-sandism. Both Europe and America have problems. I think where they part is on the solutions.

To understand Europe more, go to RightWingNews and read this interview with Claire Berlinski.

Drudge: Damning Photos of Hezbollah

Go to this link. The guy manning the canon looks like the guy you see at Starbucks. I kid you not. How depraved can you be? Put on a uniform, stop hiding behind the Burqas and babies and be men, you scum.

The images, obtained exclusively by the Sunday Herald Sun, show Hezbollah using high-density residential areas as launch pads for rockets and heavy-calibre weapons.

Dressed in civilian clothing so they can quickly disappear, the militants carrying automatic assault rifles and ride in on trucks mounted with cannon.

And people criticize Israel? You have got to be kidding me. The world will be a better place without these guys.

Can you imagine the difficulty in tracking these nuts? And then they just move back, seamlessly, into society. And everyone is afraid/proud of them (because almost all Muslims secretly want Israel wiped off the map). Who would speak out against such sophisticated, dangerous and menacing neighbors? Right.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Parental Protectiveness Breeds Big Babies

But what can be done? I've wrote, just this week, about the psychos in my Woodlands, Texas neighborhood. So society has changed.

Tigerhawk talks about his overprotectiveness and wonders about the kind of kids he is raising. His parents think he is nuts. Maybe. I don't know. My parents took risks I wouldn't even imagine now. I don't let my kids walk to school, that's a mile away, by themselves. Even though I did in Kindergarten. And my parents let me do that after a little girl my exact age was abducted from her front yard around the block. Insane.

People are older when they become parents. We know more. We obsess. We make ourselves tired. I'm not sure anything can change this societal trend.

I don't want my kids to grow up to be fearful ninnies. I also don't want them to end up harmed or worse. Finding the balance is a challenge.

H/T Instapundit

Population & College Stats

Via Instapundit: sending your kids to schools where the young people population is shifting can make for good deals. Guess what? Kids like sunshine and good economies and are moving to Southern schools. Texas schools are booming and will grow at this rate. And why not? Great education, sunshine and general optimism. Oh yeah: and the economy is good so kids can get a job once they spend their parents fortune on school.

It's For the Children

In Southern Lebanon 34 children died by an Israeli bombing. It's war. They are civilians. Hezbollah uses civilians, children, as shields. Get mad at Israel if you want, but Hezbollah and Hamas have had no problem killing children over the years. An apt quote:

"One must understand the Hezbollah is using their own civilian population as human shields," said Israeli Foreign Ministry official Gideon Meir. "The Israeli defense forces dropped leaflets and warned the civilian population to leave the place because the Hezbollah turned it into a war zone."
Hezbollah doesn't care. Israel must press on....thousands of dead would dilute the numbers of children, no doubt. Wipe out Hezbollah. If that means wasting whole cities......

War is hell. It's too bad Hezbollah started one.

More Seminar....In the Meantime, Talk Amongst Yourselves

Go here and read lots of good stuff. And thank you Right Wing News for linking here. Sorry I'm not around to blog lots of insightful, genius thoughts. But you might not get that even if I'm here.

Go over to Post Secret and cry your Sunday tears. I do.

Little Green Footballs has stuff about the Seattle killing. The murderer used a 13 year old girl to gain entry into the building. Unfrickinbelievable. Actually, not really. Shouldn't we be surprised at these levels of depravity? But, strangely, we're not.

At StrategyPage, if you spend some time there, you'll up your world knowledge I.Q. by at least 10 points. Makes you smarter to win arguments.

Deciding that with all the recent news and your recent philosophical changes regarding shooting people who threaten you, ArmedLiberal has some advice for you. Via Instapundit, who, by the way, should be your stop on the Internet right after me.

Again thanks for the link and thanks for the reading RightWing Newsers. Sorry I am not blogging more here. Ciao!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Americans: Sicker Than We've Ever Been

Well, yes. And no.

H/T Instapundit


Betsy Newmark covers Juan Williams treatise on Black American culture. Whew. Go read it.

Blogging Around People Who Think Blogging Is Stupid

I have relatives in town. They don't get it.

Why this addiction to writing meaningless stuff when you could be participating in meaninful conversations about...... I'm tempted. Oh, I am so tempted. So tempted to tell you all the conversations that are sucking the I.Q. points right out of my addled brain.

But I will resist the urge to tell everyone that we talked about how to get raspberry vomit stains out of the Ralph Lauren comforter, the beautiful new sheets, the pearly white duvet cover and all the pillows on my guest bed 'cuz my nephew left as a present when he couldn't sleep on the kid bed made for him. Oh no, he had to sleep with Mama, because it was too dark, and the room was soooo scary. And besides, when Prince Puke-a-lot hurls, it's got to be on something with 400 thread count or it ain't good enough!

That's right. Why blog? It couldn't possibly be because my optimistic, irrepressible (there you go Ann Althouse) spirit hopes, nay, prays that somewhere, someone has a normal family. Somewhere really smart, totally lucid, socially mannered, well-behaved, delightfully incisive, and sane people spend time with their smart, lucid, mannered, incisive, sane relatives. I'm not saying that my family isn't smart, lucid, mannered, incisive and sane.

I'm just hoping that other people are as lucky as me.

More On Nutrition: Modern Myths

A lot of what passes for science is just "conventional wisdom" repeated over and over until it is accepted as fact. That especially holds true in the nutrition field.

The science/dogma seems to fall into two categories--extremes, really: the food Police who believe that anything less than organic, macrobiotic, vegetarian, vegan pureness passing ones lips is heresy (food is the sacrament, worshipping mother earth, the religion) and then the other extreme for whom the notion of "garbage in, garbage out" is a silly notion chortled about over three bacon double cheeseburgers and a case of beer. The first group believes that perfect eating creates a perfect "temple" and will extend life indefinitely. The second group believes that "when their ticket is up, it's up" and live nutritionally fatalistic lives.

When my husband and I go to nutrition seminars, we are surrounded with Nutrition Nazis intent on expunging "bad food" from patient's diets. These morally superior, and I find, generally insufferable people have put off more people on living a healthier life than saved people from certain health disaster. And, they are generally wrong.

So what are some of the classic health myths?

  1. Fat is bad. No, it's not. Bad fat is bad. Unbalanced fat is bad. All these skinny women trying to get pregnant (for a very public example Courtney Cox) but either can't or repeatedly miscarry, often do not eat enough fat, and the fat they eat isn't good fat. Fat is necessary to keep the endocrine system humming. If you have zip sex drive, most likely, you're lacking precursors to good hormones. If you can't get pregnant and are not HPV positive, most likely you need fat help. Butter, olive oil, fish oils, and, animal fat, all have the stuff needed for hormone creation. So eat them--in moderations.
  2. Tums is a good source of calcium. Uh, no it's not. Neither is most calcium you buy--calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is what you scrape out of sea shells and off the sides of mountains. It is rock and it does not digest well. I know, shockingly obvious. Calcium Lactate and Calcium Citrate Malate, on the other hand are exceedingly absorbable. Remember this rule: it is not what you eat, it's what you absorb.
  3. Perfect nutrition equals health. Ha! If only! You can eat great, but if the stomach environment is off-kilter, you won't absorb any nutrition. In fact, that is how stomach stapling and gastric bands work--they don't allow absorbtion. The upside with the surgery, you lose weight. The downside, you can die because you're so malnourished. Now without the surgery, a messed up stomach can cause you to gain weight--you are eating a lot but absorbing no nutrients. The body registers you as starving and asks for more food. You eat more non-nutritive junk and you're always hungry and eventually you get fat.
For more detailed information, if you live in The Woodlands area, the other Dr. Clouthier has nutrition seminars. Go over to his blog. He talks about health topics quite a bit.

"Violent Mob Want Peace"

Best headline of the day, if not, month. Via Instapundit.

More Nutrition From Seminar

Calcium is good for you. Best kinds: Calcium Lactate and Calcium Citrate Malate.

Teen girls need 1500 mg.

The rest of us need 1000 mg.

There ya go.

Back later for more on why.

Light Blogging Today

Nutrition seminar, folks.

What I've learned so far:

Eat butter--cholesterol levels below 300 are fine, get off the stupid Statins
Eat more fermented stuff--will help you digest your food

Back later.

Killers Are Mentally Ill

I said that about Andrea Yates, and it's true about any killer. Mentally stable people don't go on murderous rampages against innocents, do they? Don't you have to be crazy to kill, unprovoked, unarmed people?

No they don't. Hugh Hewitt talks about how the MSM excuses criminal behavior by labelling it crazy. And then, interestingly, the stories vanish. Poof! Gone into the fog of failed mass murder attempts by Islamic radicals that no progressive wants to admit exists.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Good News

After a day of bombings and bombs and killings and crazies, I wanted to end the day on a good note. Well, the good note is this: it is a blessing to have family who loves you. It is a blessing to love your family. Today was a day of family and sun and the pool. It was a happy day. Even though every other minute my family made fun of my blogging. Oh well....

Happy Weekend!

Mass Shooting at the Seattle Jewish Center

Instapundit has all the news.

It's disturbing. More on the Seattle thing at Pajamas Media. More at Drudge.

The victims were women, one 17 weeks pregnant. The aggressor a Pakistani male with a criminal history, (this is alleged at this point) supposedly has no terror contacts--he's just a disgruntled Muslim man.

You know what I'm sick of? All the murderous, marauding, mayhem causing Jews at the the center of these melees. If it weren't for them....... Those poor, terrorized Muslims in Dearborn and everywhere else in the U.S. fearing, at any moment, the aggressive Jews will come and get 'em.

Deb Frisch At It Again

Jeff Goldstein is down and putting together a legal case against Deb Frisch.

Background here, here and here.

There is a new strain of cyber crazy and it's getting more virulent. More at Patterico's.

Michelle Malkin: "Abusing Kids For Art"

Michelle Malkin links to an LA photographer Jill Greenberg who induced crying in children, took their pictures and said their reactions reminded her of how she felt since the presidency of George Bush. Go look at the disturbing images yourself.

You know, I keep thinking that people can't get any crazier and then something like this happens. I think: we're not all that different, it's just the media accentuating and polarizing the populace and then something like this happens.

That a mother would take candy away from children and that their parents would assent to this treatment is unbelievable to me.

As a side note, I do find this "art" revealing, but not for the reasons Ms. Greenberg intends: they demonstrate the Machiavellian lengths some will go to to justify their belief systems.


Perhaps the greatest irony of the work is Greenberg's overlaying of a political message, one preaching compassion and intelligence at that, to a process that involved the willful manipulation of toddlers to break down their toddler-sized psyches and leave them in a pool of their own tears. I agree with the artist and many others in this country in her assessment of the current administration in Washington. But Greenberg's own tactics are a mordant, grotesque "nursery-school version" of the most conspicuous of those same policies and practices. One anonymous commenter on Hawk's blog attempted to reconstruct what happened in Greenberg's studio, using only information she herself has made available regarding how she made "End Times" possible:

Forcibly making a child have an episode of tremendous anguish, as is indicated on their faces (these children are well beyond simply crying) is an act of abuse. She is abusing her power over them, as both an adult and what the child sees as a trusted friend to their parents. I doubt if she sat the children down and said “Ok here is what I am going to do. First, we will take off your clothes, then I will have you sit right over there. Next, my assistant here and I are going to do many things to get you to cry as hard as you have ever cried before. We will do that by having your parent leave the room, giving you some candy or a toy, and then grabbing it from you. We will do this over and over until you are crying good enough for me, and then these bright lights will flash over and over again, until I have a good enough picture. We will do this and there is nothing you can do to stop me. Thank you for your time and understanding, and participating in this historic event that is really a comment on my feelings towards the Bush administration. I am sorry we have to terrorize you like this, but you see, this is for the greater good. These pictures will make that bad man go away and stop hurting other children.”
No, "End Times" is not Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, or even your average episode of 24. But I don't think anyone who has alluded to contemporary torture meant to imply an equivalence so much as a cleaner metaphorical link than the one Greenberg attempted to foist on her own work. Stripped of its purported conceptual framework, "End Times" is, above all else, a detached experiment in bullying, period. This fact makes it almost embarrassing to critique Greenberg's work on a deeper level, because it necessarily involves thinking things through more thoroughly than the "artist" herself seems inclined to do, prefering instead to assume that her instinctual response will hold up without further investigation and elaboration, grimly following her idea to its logical conclusion without recognizing how well she is mimicking her supposed enemy in her expression of concern for children. 1984, this one's for you. [emphasis added, ed.]
That's from Jeremiah McNichol's blog Thinking In Pictures. He gives the most cogent evaluation of Jill Greenberg's "work". He approaches the notion of even giving this "art" an audience as reinforcing the moral depravity of the "artist". He says:

I believe that the moral dimension of "End Times" cannot be ignored, and that an artist need not profit from societal objections to their work if those objections are sound and widely shared. I further believe that Jill Greenberg's work should not be viewed through the art-historical lens of edgy, contemporary art, but is instead a cultural hiccup that should be shelved with divisive cultural artifacts like black minstrelry, art involving the physical abuse of animals, and other works that reflect a sensibility so alien that it is better approached not as art, but as the fractured product of a diseased mind or a necrotic culture.

I think the best response to any travesty of this nature is careful critique supplanted by outright mockery. Someone out there may prove otherwise, but I think that Child Welfare Services has no applicable standard for judging what Greenberg has done, that Paul Kopeikin really believes that hate mail means he has truly arrived, and that any pain Jill Greenberg suffers from your calls and letters could easily be "expressed" in an equally repugnant new series of work. My personal and untested opinion is that the only way to stop this kind of practice is to laugh it off the public stage. The art itself will die without too much help from us.

Let's hope this art will die, but why am I quite sure she'll get rich from her depraved work? Surely George Soros could use a "Greenberg" or two in his mighty gallery. Cindy Sheehan and her vile misuse of her own son, surely will have no problem with another woman violating her child's trust for the sake of art and the "greater good." In fact, Greenberg's art illustrates perfectly the progressive movement's house of horrors. Maybe the art will signify the times more than even she can fathom. The more I think about it, the more I believe it does.

Muslim Botox Lovers

Fatwa issued against the cosmetic use of Botox. A couple thoughts:

  1. You're under a Burqa who gives a flip if you're wrinkly or not?
  2. Islam is so freeing: no need to make yourself look young and beautiful. Free to be ugly.
It also brings me around to my favorite Muslim woman--Al Zark's mom. She is still blogging away--now from Rehab. Hey, she's a celebrity!

Woodlands Residents: West Nile Here

By the way, friendly neighbors. A friend of ours had mosquitos tested in her yard and they carry the West Nile virus.

My advice? Keep your immune system strong: Vitamin C, Adjustments, happiness, blah, blah, blah. And, bug spray. Getting bit by one nasty fella is bad. Getting bit by 15 of them would be worse.

Count on me for the obvious.

Lance Bass & His Sexuality

Do you really care? I mean, really. Do you assume, like I do, that most Hollywood types have the self-esteem and standards of your local prostitute or lawyer or used car salesman and do what feels good with whomever fells good whenever feels right? Maybe I overgeneralize.

As far as Mr. Bass goes, what was the giveaway? That he wears blue eye-liner? What? Is it just the straight guys I know who shun the MAC counter or is my circle limited? Come on.

Same goes for Ricki Martin. Rosie O'Donnell was a mystery to no one. Clay Aikin, poor baby, too. Cynthia Nixon, shocking. Ellen DeGeneres another shock. What is shocking is that these people think that their personal life is shocking.

Oh and let's feel sorry for cheaters Anglelina and Brad. And for that matter, let's feel sorry for Jennifer Anistan jumping out of the frying pan and into the Vince Vaughn fryer. And keep crying for Nick Lache and so-not godly Jessica Simpson. Oh and tears for Tori--she of the former rich girl, home-wrecking fame.

And Chelsea Clinton isn't ugly. And Lindsey Lohan isn't a lush. And Justin Timberlake is into committment and will marry Cameron Diaz.....someday. And Guy Ritchie isn't sick of being a house husband. And Madonna isn't getting old. And no one has anorexia 'cuz it's normal to be six feet tall and weigh 70 pounds.

And the best one of all: Brittney Spear's husband isn't a no-talent ass-clown, gold-diggin' wannabe. Oh no. He is a good husband. He is a stellar father. And he is, most of all, very high class.

Supposedly these mysteries to no one have been outted by a gossip blogger who is saying what everyone, anyone, with half a brain already knows and doesn't really care about. Oh they care, superficially, in a salacious, these aren't really people, they are pretty heads on a stick-kind of way.

Yup, these celebs live super-duper double secret rarefied lives. And they do. Except the secret part. Sorry crazy cat superstars: when we see you over and over and over and over in every form of media we do get your vibe. And that includes which team you're batting for.

We. Don't. Care.

Freed Terrorist Fundraiser

A triumphant day for terrorists. Thank you ACLU.

Maxed Out Mama Talks Funny Money Loans

She worries that the adjustable loans will end up causing problems because people will owe nearly 100% more than their original loan amount when it is all said and done.

See what I mean about funny money loans? The borrower's payments in the first example go:
Year 1: $824 - 76 (second paid by Beazer) = $748
Year 2: $886 + $529 = $1,415
Year 3: $953 + $529 = $1,482
Year 4: $1,024 + $529 = $1,553
Plus, to achieve the low initial down payment the borrower is signing up for negative amortization, which means that their loan balance rises for a while instead of dropping. The first mortgage is adjustable too, so the payments could go even higher. Very few people who take this deal would be able to keep the house, because unless they brought money to the table they would almost certainly be unable to refi out of it (without double digit price inflation, which is no longer in the cards). The second example is no better.
So big whup, right? You have a good job, your health and the mortgage is fine. Or, you plan to move and the market is fine. Not so fast, there professor.

When you look at new home sales figures and prices keep the above example in mind, because it is certainly not unique. I hope this helps you to understand why the downside to this market is so huge. In many cases, "homeowners" will never be able to make even their first reset payment. There are cases of people unable to make their very first mortgage payment.

If you think this is funny, consider the impact on your home value. Sure, you may have signed up for a 30 year fixed-rate last year when you bought. But your home's value will be depressed when the forced sales from this type of maneuver start rolling back onto the market en masse. When you find your home worth less four years from now in nominal dollars than it is today, you'll understand what a brutal racket this has been. [emphasis added, ed.]

I never thought I would become a wild-eyed consumer activist, but at this point all I want to do is find some public interest law firm and give them the ammo to sue the britches right off these and similar people. You see, I calculate loans and consumer disclosures, and I can usually find some sort of error in about 50% of RESPA loan document packages (although that isn't true for my banks). And Hillary? Hillary with her proposal to offer downpayment assistance? Hillary is looking after the Beazers of the world, and not the people she claims to want to help. Watch her campaign finance contributions - you'll see. Because a $5,000 taxpayer-funded downpayment gives a lot of room to roam for crooked outfits like this, and only abuses the "buyer".
Mama has been beating the drum of doom about the housing market. I'm not sure how this applies in a fairly valued market, versus a wildly over-valued market like in Florida. I'm guessing that over-valued areas are worse. People can't get out from under a mortgage they can't handle and even putting it up for foreclosure doesn't work--because values stink so bad no one can even pay that.

Non-negative Words

Ann Althouse wonders where all the repressible (as opposed irrepressible), also known as repressed people, live. The comment thread is a nerd-haven. No wonder I like it so much.

John Podhoretz: Can Democracies Win?

John Podhoretz via Instapundit asks the question that has been on my mind for this last week. Israel has a very long history, actually, of stopping the fight before they have definitively won. They even ignored God's orders to wipe out a sworn enemy and have rued that decision for a very, very long time. Podhoretz says (longish):

WHAT if liberal democracies have now evolved to a point where they can no longer wage war effectively because they have achieved a level of humanitarian concern for others that dwarfs any really cold-eyed pursuit of their own national interests?

What if the universalist idea of liberal democracy - the idea that all people are created equal - has sunk in so deeply that we no longer assign special value to the lives and interests of our own people as opposed to those in other countries?

What if this triumph of universalism is demonstrated by the Left's insistence that American and Israeli military actions marked by an extraordinary concern for preventing civilian casualties are in fact unacceptably brutal? And is also apparent in the Right's claim that a war against a country has nothing to do with the people but only with that country's leaders?

Can any war be won when this is the nature of the discussion in the countries fighting the war? Can any war be won when one of the combatants voluntarily limits itself in this manner?

Could World War II have been won by Britain and the United States if the two countries did not have it in them to firebomb Dresden and nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Didn't the willingness of their leaders to inflict mass casualties on civilians indicate a cold-eyed singleness of purpose that helped break the will and the back of their enemies? Didn't that singleness of purpose extend down to the populations in those countries in those days, who would have and did support almost any action at any time that would lead to the deaths of Germans and Japanese?

What if the tactical mistake we made in Iraq was that we didn't kill enough Sunnis in the early going to intimidate them and make them so afraid of us they would go along with anything? Wasn't the survival of Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35 the reason there was an insurgency and the basic cause of the sectarian violence now?

If you can't imagine George W. Bush issuing such an order, is there any American leader you could imagine doing so?

And if America can't do it, can Israel? Could Israel - even hardy, strong, universally conscripted Israel - possibly stomach the bloodshed that would accompany the total destruction of Hezbollah?

If Lebanon's 300-plus civilian casualties are already rocking the world, what if it would take 10,000 civilian casualties to finish off Hezbollah? Could Israel inflict that kind of damage on Lebanon - not because of world opinion, but because of its own modern sensibilities and its understanding of the value of every human life?

Modern war strategists don't seem to acknowledge the notion that they are, by waging war in what I called a "pussy-footed" way, trading casualties--ours for theirs or our allies for the enemies.

As Sun Tzu said, "all war is a loss". His first rule, it is also the most important. That is, when all other avenues fail, and you decide war is the only way, it is important to remember you will be losing something, probably a lot of something--the time, money and resources could have been spent building or investing. Instead lives, money, natural resources are, in a sense, destroyed.

That doesn't mean a war isn't worth the outcome, and in fact, Israel ignored Hezbollah's growing menace at her own risk. A war, once endeavored, must be won, or the investment is for nothing. That's why, when Israel and the U.S. possessing overwhelming power, use half-measures, they doom their own efforts. Cunning and guerilla warfare might be helpful to a less sophisticated enemy--the U.S. used it to great effect against the British. The Iraqi "insurgents" are using it to great affect now. But when you have far superior fire power, to not use it when it is called for can be construed as lack of courage and the determination to get the dirty deed done.

And, that ambivalent, navel-gazing place is where I fear Israel, and the U.S. in Iraq, for that matter finds itself. Podhoretz explains why that is so terrifying:

Where do these questions lead us?

What if Israel's caution about casualties among its own soldiers and Lebanese civilians has demonstrated to Hezbollah and Hamas that as long as they can duck and cover when the missiles fly and the bombs fall, they can survive and possibly even thrive?

What if Israel has every capability of achieving its aim, but cannot unleash itself against a foe more dangerous, more unscrupulous, more unprincipled and more barbaric than even the monstrous leaders of the Intifada it managed to quell after years of suicide attacks?

And as for the United States, what if we have every tool at our disposal to win a war - every weapons system we could want manned by the most superbly trained military in history - except the ability to match or exceed our antagonists in ruthlessness?

Is this the horrifying paradox of 21st century warfare? If Israel and the United States cannot be defeated militarily in any conventional sense, have our foes discovered a new way to win? Are they seeking victory through demoralization alone - by daring us to match them in barbarity and knowing we will fail?

Are we becoming unwitting participants in their victory and our defeat? Can it be that the moral greatness of our civilization - its astonishing focus on the value of the individual above all - is endangering the future of our civilization as well?

At this rate, these half-measures do endanger the future of our civilization. They embolden the ignorant and morally repugnant. It wouldn't be the first time in history that God used human thugs to punish those who should know better.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Another Web Analytical Tool

Want more traffic? Try this: 103Bees.

H/T Seth Godin

Competitors Versus Products

So many people focus on their competitors, not on their own product. This is...counterproductive. (Couldn't help myself.) Do I need to remind you people of the Bell Curve? Short answer: most people are stupid or at best, mediocre. No one likes to admit it. No one likes to be part of the group, but there it is.

To differentiate your product, focusing on what the dumb-asses down the street are doing just results in you being obsessive about dumb-ass products or dumb-asses. How helpful is that?

Here's a thought: why not focus on what will help make your customer's life easier? Focus on that solution. You'll have more customers. Girls will dig ya. Guys will want to be ya. Okay, I won't go that far.

Anyway, this is a riff on what's being said over at Passionate Users, which is fantastic as usual.

Michael Totten Explains Lebanon

It is sad. It is worth reading the whole thing. Here are some exerpts:

Syria’s Bashar Assad threatened to make Lebanon burn if his occupation troops were forced out of the country. Most Lebanese think that’s what last year’s car bombs were about. After former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, was assassinated downtown, all the car bomb victims were Christian. All the random car bombs exploded in Christian neighborhoods. The idea - or so the Lebanese thought - was to whip up sectarian hatred, to get Christian militias to rearm and retaliate, and to re-ignite the Lebanese war. Assad yearned to burn Lebanon, and he was not shy about saying so. Syria, or so he hoped, might be invited back in to stop the chaos with the soldier’s peace of the Baath.

That plan didn’t work. Hardly anyone wanted a return to civil war. No Christian vigilantes retaliated against Muslims (Sunni or Shia) because they knew it was a trap set by the Baath. That, most likely, is why the siege of the car bombs came to an end.

He then explains sectarianism in Lebanon.

I spent a total of seven months in Lebanon recently, and I never could quite figure out what prevented the country from flying apart into pieces. It barely held together like unstable chemicals in a nitro glycerin vat. The slightest ripple sent Lebanese scattering from the streets and into their homes. They were far more twitchy than I, in part (I think) because they understood better than I just how precarious their civilized anarchy was. Their country needed several more years of careful nurturing during peace time to fully recover from its status as a carved up failed state.

By bombing all of Lebanon rather than merely the concentrated Hezbollah strongholds, Israel is putting extraordinary pressure on Lebanese society at points of extreme vulnerability. The delicate post-war democratic culture has been brutally replaced, overnight, with a culture of rage and terror and war. Lebanon isn't Gaza, but nor is it Denmark.

Lebanese are temporarily more united than ever. No one is running off to join Hezbollah, but tensions are being smoothed over for now while everyone feels they are under attack by the same enemy. Most Lebanese who had warm feelings for Israel -- and there were more of these than you can possibly imagine -- no longer do.

This will not last.

My sources and friends in Beirut tell me most Lebanese are going easy on Hezbollah as much as they can while the bombs are still falling. But a terrible reckoning awaits them once this is over.

On Israel and Lebanon:

Israel and Lebanon (especially Lebanon) will continue to burn as long as Hezbollah exists as a terror miltia freed from the leash of the state. The punishment for taking on Hezbollah is war. The punishment for not taking on Hezbollah is war. Lebanese were doomed to suffer war no matter what. Their liberal democratic project could not withstand the threat from within and the assaults from the east, and it could not stave off another assault from the south. War, as it turned out, was inevitable even if the actual shape of it wasn’t. Peace was not in the cards for Lebanon. Its democracy turned out to be neither a strength nor a weakness. It was irrelevant.
Utter doom, except a miracle happens.

H/T Instapundit

"Tour De Farce": Floyd Landis' Alleged Doping

We were all duped about a Tour without dope. Maybe. Call me cynical, but every time an American gets nailed for potential wrong-doing, I wonder. If the Europeans didn't hate, yea,verily loathe, Americans so much, if they didn't conspire in voting scandels against Americans, if they generally showed some vague sense of fairness to anything American, maybe I would believe these scandels right out of the gate.

Landis doping, is of course, plausible. "Everyone is doing it" doesn't seem to by a hyperbolic stretch. Landis and his bum hip made big news and big money for the Tour organizers. One wonders if they knew the results before and loved the story and let the sinner compete. Nah. That is going from cynical to conspiratorial.

A great editorial by Matt Seaton at the Guardian Unlimited caught my attention. He notes that Tour watchers voted with their fingertips and viewership was way down. He adds:

Many will feel, though, that the teams face both ways -- demanding the top results, but then freezing out the riders who feel they have no option but to dope in order to deliver them. The riders' attitude is that they are always the poor bloody infantry -- used, abused and ultimately expendable.

There is some truth in this, but it's time they got past that ancient sense of grievance. We've seen the riders exercise their power in the past with sit-down protests and the like when there's something they don't like -- such as dangerous racing conditions. Tackling doping is, if nothing else, about their livelihood and their health. The one thing that might change the present dismal vista of pro cycle sport would be for the riders themselves to organise and take a collective stand against doping. Declare an amnesty now, by all means, but then exercise zero tolerance; create a culture of whistle-blowing; and end the code of silence, the omerta, that protects the dope-cheats.

We'll see about Test B for Floyd Landis. In the meantime, we wait. The Tour, after Lance, might just sink back into irrelevance where it had been for a long time. Drugs or no drugs, it takes more than a bunch of guys in tight shorts riding for miles and miles and miles and miles to capture more than just the die-hard fans' attention. I see the future of the Tour De Force and it's the snooze button.

Google Click Fraud

There has to be a technological way to determine nefarious clicks. Google's crazy earnings can go from somethin' to nothin' if people suspect fraud. And fraud would be very easy to commit. Amazon partner stuff, too. Of course, like Dell is learning, it takes just whiff of indifference to kill a company.

Bloggers can be a boon or bane to any company. Tech companies, more than anyone else, should know this.

Israel Has Choices

What will Israel choose to do? I go to this link to a Jerusalem paper and see the sweet faces of the dead Israeli boys and I wonder about the resolve of these people to sustain a loss of life. It seems to me that the horses have left the barn on this venture, but that has never stopped determined politicians from trying to gather them back in and pretend it is a victory.

Iranian leaders are trying to get more arms to Hezbollah. Let's hope they don't find a way to supply them. And there are already sharp criticisms saying that Israel has eliminated any good will from the Lebanese people as Marc Cooper says here, "....but Israel's prolonged and vengeful response is fostering new hatred for Israel and its US protector." An apt response comes from the comment section:

Samuel Stott Says:

If I am reading this correctly, this is an argument for Hizbullah as an ineradicable force in Lebanese and Mideastern politics; this is an argument for giving Hizbullah a role, instead of killing Hizbullah leadership and fighters.

Okay, what are Hizbullah’s terms for peace in the Middle East?

Hizbullah’s minimum terms are the eradication of Israel.

My concern with Israel, is that they will wage a war too concerned about collateral damage and let the ground troups go into fire fights insufficiently covered. Damn the Hezbollah for surrounding themselves with their families, their "people". Trying to be antiseptic in war is a good way to lose a war, and more importantly lose the lives of your own fighters. Loss of life in war will happen. Loss of life because of pussy-footed strategy is unacceptable.

Hezbollah isn't concerned about collateral damage, are they? They are aiming their 1500 rockets, so far, at civilian centers. They know where the infrastructure, the military installations are located. They want to kill as many Jews as possible.

Israel has no choice and yet, she does. The fight must be won or, I fear, die anyway.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hillary's Bust

The Anchoress, yet again, draws attention to the former President's and future President's (I hope, I hope, I hope, NOT) breasts. Me thinks the Anchoress has breast envy. It was bound to happen--a powerful woman, intelligent, shrill at times yes, a firecracker and ruggedly good-looking woman with thick ankles. Hillary Clinton moves people.

Brad & Angelina & Baby

Oh, my, my, my. Do we need to know any more about these Namibia nuts? The answer must be "yes". They have a new wax likeness of themselves and of their new baby, too. Ewwww....

See it all at People.

Palestinians in Gaza Worry About Becoming the 'Forgotten War'

Favorite headline of the day. All of a sudden there is a hierarchy of terrorist badness. And the Palestinians don't wanted to be lumped in with Hezbollah. No? Then stop the suicide bombers. That's called terrorism. That is not called negotiation or a "political solution". Most places it's called an act of war. And with the mood everyone is in, maybe you should be worried about being the next flattened turf that terrorists once called home.

Scarlett Johansson: Owns A "Cracking Set of Bazzers"

That's the British way of saying that the "new face and boobs of Reebok" has got it all.

Woodlands, Texas Residents: Kid Safety Alert

In the sicko psychos department, twice in the last four weeks a man has stopped and tried to snatch children here. The mothers were outside of eyeshot of the would-be criminal but saw the person talking to her kid. In both cases, when the mom came out of the garage or house the guy ran and took off in his white vehicle (one a car, one a truck).

In both cases the men were described as between 35 and early fifties, both white. The most recent guy somewhat balding. The other guy with darker skin.

Also, a known sexual predator has been hanging out at Cranebrook Pool and sliding down the kids slide. He has been overly friendly to children. His record is online. In fact, you can find the registered (not all guys are registered) offenders online here.

You know, this community is relatively safe. It is no utopia, by a long shot. But it is a peaceful suburb that enjoys low crime rates compared to most cities.

And yet, for all that, parents cannot let their children play in the front yard, must supervise them all the time, and must place in their children a mistrust of all adults. All this because deranged, sick men terrorize neighborhoods and families.

Most of the sexual assaults and molesting happen within families by fathers, stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers and, of course, the church eldership. Most of the abuse happens under the noses of people who can't, don't or won't see what is right in front of them.

Sexual predators have significantly changed society. The way families care for their children has dramatically been altered by these threats. And no wonder, right? What rational, frazzled parent will do what our parents did--let the kids five and up roam free until dinner-time? So kids are stuck inside, watching TV, playing video games, sitting around bored. Or they are prisoners in their back-yards, playing on excessive equipment and rock-climbing walls, trampolines and pools, all because crazy pervs lurk.

Children can't ride their bikes to the local park--especially not alone. And The Woodlands has beautiful parks. What parent is going to let their kids go, though, alone?

Of all violent crime, the only categories that haven't seen rate drops are those committed against women and children. The whole situation pisses me off. On the one hand, families have had to change everything because these psychos exist. On the other hand, guys who got in trouble with the parents of a girl when he was 18 and she was 16 can have a record forever because of some bogus statuatory rape charge. That isn't right, either.

Bottom line, like thieves, these sexual predators are terrorists. The threat of their actions causes all kinds of changed behavior. Children and families don't operate like they used to, and the old way was better to a certain extent. Now, the message to our kids is clear "the world is a dangerous place" and "you should live afraid."

Death Row Killer Might Have Killed More

Do you know her? There is a group of pictures with young women from the 50s to the late 70s. Police want to know if this psycho is responsible for more deaths. Already, some women have come forward, obviously alive. Go take a look-see. Maybe you know someone.

War is Hell & Other Quaint Notions

Over at the American Thinker, Greg Richards elucidates this and other truths progressives and MSM sophists just can't absorb. My favorite point:

3. Once war is initiated, then the question is not proportionality, but victory. The question to be decided is under whose power are the citizens of each country going to live?
H/T Betsy's Page

Andrea Yates: Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity

Does this seem a fair consequence to the five murders? I wonder if her "supportive", remarried husband, Rusty, that I wrote about before regrets getting remarried, since his beautiful bride is now "free"--in a mental asylum and not jail.

I'm not sure an insanity defense is ever right. How is it just that five people are dead, yet Ms. Yates gets to live out her life, such as it is? But then, I have been happy when an abuse victim, whose plight is ignored, seeks and finds retribution. (Janie's Got A Gun, style.) That's just my dark heart speaking. Of course it is wrong to murder a psychopathic molestor. Still....

Anyway, Ms. Yates herself seems quite stunned. Andrew Cohen at the Washington Post calls it "justice." There is still a chance that the prosecutors could try Yates for the two children's murders who weren't included in this case. Cohen hopes that doesn't happen:

I hope, however, that the State just simply gives up on this case and recognizes that it is legally possible for an otherwise good person to do a horrible thing in a moment of madness. Otherwise, there is simply no point in having an insanity defense anywhere, at any time, in any case.

What's the point, indeed. I object to the "damsel in distress" thing. Women need to be held to account for their crimes just as a man would or else equality means nothing. The flip side of the weak-woman perspective is that a woman is weak and can't make good decisions--because she is hysterical. Being a woman, is by definition, crazy. Why don't feminists see this?

Dr. Helen has more.

Disaster Preparedness

Glenn Reynolds is talking preparedness for Hurricane Season "looming". As an aside, it's been Hurricane season for over a month (June 1 was the exact start date, to be anal about it.) The weather has just been quiet so far.

A couple things, having been through Rita last year, and entertaining evacuees from Katrina for the year, I have learned, here.

The hubby surprised me, a few months ago. He said that if a Hurricane came our direction, he would evacuate. It was stressful watching and waiting. But I suppose it was stressful leaving and watching and waiting, too.

The key in tumultuous times is self-reliance and connectedness. Don't count on anyone to save you and and communicate with friends, family and neighbors. Watch out for each other.

The local Houston officials did a stellar job managing everything, but they can't be everywhere all the time. They are not omnipotent and omnipresent (thank God!). We wouldn't want them to be, why do we expect it during times of difficulty?

Girls Lunch Out

In honor of the diva daughter's birthday, I'm taking said daughter and friend to Snip-Its--a salon for younguns into fashion. I kid you not. Later.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Abraham Cherrix Free To Decide Treatment

Update: Sheesh! Forgot the link. Time for bed.

A judge lifted the order for treatment. Let's pray that he's healed and that in a stress-free environment his body will heal itself. Some of the alternative treatments are hard on the body, too.

Aaron Had A Screw Loose

Oh, I thought for you who are new to the blog, or didn't get last week's post you might want to know Aaron's History here.

Everyone is doing great!

And today he got it tightened. Can you imagine a screw coming lose that is drilled into your skull and a technician taking a wrench and tightening it? Yeah, well, Aaron yawned this morning, felt something "pop" and had to get it fixed. So that was today's adventure.

Overall, though, Aaron looks better, more color in his face, more zip in his step. His body is healing. It wasn't just C-1 that got damaged. He squashed two thoracic vertabrae, too. He will probably lose one half an inch to an inch of height before this is all said and done. Minor, really, compared to what could have happened.

Tonight, we left Hearts behind and played some version of Dominos. Not to brag or anything, but a Clouthier won and it wasn't my husband. Pure luck, really. Still, fun to win!

Rhonda didn't know what a blog was. Can you imagine? I know, disturbing. She knows now. And the last post made her cry. Aren't I terrible?

This is Collette, member of Fellowship of the Woodlands and family friend. She has been managing meals, house cleaning and just about everything else the family needs. She is also looking for a man. Any takers?

Tallying the score. Did I mention that I won?

Back in bed for rest says the wife.

Exotic Goth Dancer Caught With Hand in the Jar

My favorite quote:

Kay's mother told the newspaper that her daughter had always been fascinated with the macabre. As a girl she found and collected animal skulls and snake skeletons. Patricia Ann Kay said her daughter purchased the human skulls from a mail order catalog.

"She has a flair for the dramatic," her mother told the newspaper for Tuesday's editions. "I have never tried to stop my children from doing whatever they want. As long as they are happy, aren't hurting anyone, and it's keeping them out of the poor house."

Parenting standards to strive for......

Dr. Anna Pou: NOLA Doctor Killer or Angel?

I don't have enough information (the exact level of morphine and other meds in the patient/victim's body and circumstantial evidence) to know what to make of Dr. Pou's clinical judgement.

Patients don't like to think about it, family members don't like to talk about it, but these borderline decisions are made every day everywhere in the U.S. Doctors "play God" all the time. Yes, they do. They predict the date of a patient's demise. They withhold nutrition--essentially ending a life. Some doctors lean toward the "save the life at all costs" philosophy and other doctors incessantly discuss "quality of life" which is a euphamism for ending any life they deem "less than".

Like most American families, ours has bumped up against this issue more than once. An older family relative of ours was never allowed out of his medication induced coma and "died" with a lot of morphine in his system and from lack of nutrition. It took three days. He was brain-damaged from a fall. He didn't have the resources for care. His wife felt that his time was up. Let me just say here and now, that the decision was not what I would have wanted had the victim been me--I hope my husband has more internal fortitude should the situation arise. On the other hand, I don't feel in the position to condemn the elderly survivor or the doctors in the case. It was a tight call.

Bottomline: these borderline cases happen all the time. The question for Dr. Pou. Was her decision a borderline judgement call or was her decision simply expedient?

Abraham Cherrix Defies Judge's Order

We'll see what happens now.

Liquor Up!

Steve and I went on a vacation with friends to their parents Rhode Island summer home. All generations were there including the 95 year old MiMi, my friend's grandma. This is how the lazy summer days went:

  • Wake up--Mimosas (at least two)
  • Go walk by the beach/swim
  • Lunch--Start the beer
  • Swim in the ocean, ride boat around lagoon
  • Dinner--Start the hard liquor (Wild Turkey, Absolut on the rocks)
  • After dinner--Some sort of Brandy, or other appropriate nocturnal alcohol

MiMi drank with the best of 'em. Steve and I, our pathetic little livers taxed, pooped out at dinner time. Most times, actually, we were done in by lunch. MiMi was alert, smart as a whip and having a raucous good time. So, yes, drink up in your elder years.

Drinking. It's good and good for you.

And the Israeli-Hezbollah War (Bias) Continues....

So I'm reading the latest and go to the Boston Herald and The Times Online (UK) and The Houston Chronicle for good measure. Same information. Different pictures. Different emphasis. Different take-away.

I'm going to put the lede quotes from each one and let you guess who is who:

  1. The Israeli Prime Minister today vowed to keep up the fight against Hezbollah as he went into talks with Condoleezza Rice.
  2. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, leading the first high-level U.S. diplomatic mission since war broke out in Lebanon, said Tuesday the time has come for a new Middle East and an urgent end to the violence hanging over the region.
  3. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in a frenetic set of meetings amid intense Israeli-Hezbollah fighting, said Tuesday the United States wants an "urgent and enduring" peace where problems are solved without war.

Now which news source published these different pictures?
  1. Rice with eyes closed and looking stupid with Israeli Prime Minister.
  2. Rice smiling with Prime Minister.
  3. Rice in warm greeting with Prime Minister.
Just like music, the message delivered in the news is rarely the words themselves. The feel, the tone, the choice of priority, the pictures all tell the story the editors want to convey.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Damien Mullen: Get A Girl.....or A Guy

In a few easy steps on Google. I kid you not, this post is carazzzzy! This guy shows you how to find someone via Google. Google Base is the most interesting/disturbing. Find people in your own zip code interested in dating.


Brad DeLong on the Joys of the Academy & The New Blog Academy

Okay, so maybe I've been too hard on the Academy recently. Reading Brad DeLong's love letter to the institution where he works softens my hard heart:

I walk out my door and look around: at the offices of professors who know more about topics like the history of the international monetary system or the evolution of income distribution than any other human beings alive, and at graduate students hanging out in the lounge. It's a brilliant intellectual community, this little slice of the world that is our visible college. You run into people in the hall and the lounge, and you learn interesting things. Paradise. For an academic, at least.
Then, he talks about desiring a bigger audience and how he has one through the internet. He says:
Over the past three years, with the arrival of Web logging, I have been able to add such people to those I bump into — in a virtual sense — every week. My invisible college is paradise squared, for an academic at least.
And then he describes why he enjoys blogging:

Plus, Web logging is an excellent procrastination tool. Don't feel like grading? Don't feel like writing that ad hoc committee report or completing the revisions demanded by clueless referee X? Write on your Web log and get the warm glow of having accomplished something.

Plus, every legitimate economist who has worked in government has left swearing to do everything possible to raise the level of debate and to communicate with a mass audience rather than merely an ivory-tower audience. That is true of those on the right as well as the left. Web logging is a promising way to do that.

Plus, there is the hope that someday, somehow, all of this will develop in a way to provide useful tools for teaching or marketing one's books, or something — that Web logging is a lottery ticket to something in the future, unknown but good.

"Write on your Weblog and get the warm glow of having accomplished something," he says. I can't tell you how true that rings for me. Have you wanted, as an educated person at home changing diapers, cleaning the high-chair, teaching how to "carry the one" in math, just wanted to accomplish something? Blogging does that for me. If I write one sad little post and a few of you have read it, I feel like my ideas have reached, and hopefully, helped someone.

Blogging connects me to really smart people, people I'd love to have over for dinner, if I only had the time and they lived closer. Blogging connects me to their ideas. I think better thoughts, ponder deeper and more complex problems because of blogging. An ill-considered position gets corrected immediately or my idea is deservedly maligned. That's fair, isn't it? With commenting, there is no New York Times Editorial review board to sift through opinions and deem what is worthy/fit to print. Blogging is more egalitarian. Some would say more plebian. Naturally, I disagree.

Blogging is like live theater. The feedback is immediate and personal. You know if people agree or disagree. I'm still surprised that my post on Ayn Rand stirred so much controversy. Who knew she was such a beloved religious figure? Talking politics has surprised me further. Europeans who think my writing is polemic twaddle have written me and told me so. How great is that? Friends and family lurk and read and surprise me sometimes with opinions about my opinions. And then there is the rest of you who remain silent watchers. The mystery of people reading anonymously is fascinating, too.

So, Brad, has helped me lighten up (some) on the academy and reminded me why I love the Blogging medium. It's just plain fun (and not just for academics.)

WuzzaDem: Wussup Sock-uh

Glenn Reynolds calls the Glenn Greenwald sock puppetry sophistry the "kerfluffle" and linked to WuzzaDem who gave the topic "the seriousness it deserves."


History here.

Answer: Kos He Can

Question: Why does Markos Maulitas natter on network news?

Allah over at Hotair says: "I was making chickenhawk, slurs before making were chickenhawk slurs was cool." My favorite comment from that post by Pablo:

Anyway, I really like the “I was actually a Republican…”

I was actually an astronaut. And a race car driver. And a multi-millionaire inventor. And a brain surgeon. And a gigolo. And a super secret spy.

Pablo on July 24, 2006 at 5:07 PM

Via Jeff Goldstein

Meanwhile, Back In Iraq.......

The violence narrows, the culprits (surprise!) are buddies of Saddam who have yet to breath their last. Iraq the Model says:

Although late, it was a bit of a relief to see Iraqi and US commanders planning to move more troops into the Baghdad area (also via Pajamas).

I was thinking the other day that military priorities of the US and Iraqi forces need to be reorganized according to the challenges imposed by the intentions of the bad guys to take over Baghdad. I mean why does the US keeps thousands of combat troops in relatively less turbulent areas that are of much less strategic value to the bigger picture!?
This redistribution of forces should've been considered months ago.
Amen. Even I, lowly Dr. Melissa, no strategerist, have written about this notion. Glad it will be happening. Can't happen soon enough.

I'm guessing that the loss of life that will likely occur by making this shift has made it a politically difficult choice. This is war. The choice is done. Move in and extinguish the the hope and the lives of the scum who wish to protract this thing and cause the murder of innocents.

LGF: Dutch Leader Says Islamic Terror=Resistance Against Nazis

More moral equivalence: Iran controlling nuclear warheads the same as the U.S. controlling nuclear warheads. Yes, all the loud noises the Americans make about "eliminating all Dutch people from the face of the planet" probably has that wee country running scared. Whereas, Iran would defend the Dutch should any aggressor try to plunge them into the sea.

Abraham Cherrix Forced Treatment Says Judge

Tomorrow, unless AbrahamCherrix runs away, goes into hiding, or somehow, otherwise escapes, the Government will seize a young man, take him him to the hospital and force a treatment. I've talked about this before, these treatments are not so clear as doctors would like to portray them.

Currently, another 16-year-old boy, Abraham Cherrix, is drawing public attention to this issue.

Like Billy, Abraham also has Hodgkin's lymphoma. He completed chemotherapy and went into remission.

Though, the cancer has returned, Abraham has made it clear he doesn't want to go that route again.

"The first round of chemo almost killed me in itself. There were some nights I didn't know if I would make it," Abraham said. To go through it again "would kill me, literally. No joke about it."

He and his family researched and discussed the other cancer treatment options available.

Part of the argument is that teenagers don't really have the ability to see the long-term ramifications of life and death decisions. And yet, abortion without informing parents is fine for a twelve year-old? No doubt she, and her boyfriend/molestor/rapist, can make an informed decision all on her own.

"Teenagers don't really have the full capacity to understand the broader picture, " said Kara Kelly, a pediatric oncologist at Columbia University.

She worries that teens don't realize the consequences of their decision and if alternative therapy doesn't work, they could be putting their lives at risk.

A number of studies show "adolescents have some difficulty understanding the finality of death," said University of Florida professor of psychology Jay Reeve. This could, in turn, "impact the ability to make well-balanced life or death decisions."

The problem, in this case, is the parents, who are trying to act on their son's behalf back up his decision. They have heard the arguments. They have seen the evidence. It is not like the child is all alone in the wilderness here.

Raymond De Vries, a member of the bioethics program at the University of Michigan, has a different view.

In his opinion, some young people do have the ability to make responsible decisions about their bodies.

What should be done in Abraham's situation, according to De Vries, is instead of only considering the boy's age, authorities should assess how well he understands his decision and whether he understands the consequences.

Cases like this sometimes boil down to power and authority, De Vries said.

It is a "challenge to [the doctor's] authority when you go away from their suggestion. Their immediate response is, 'No,'" De Vries said.

Kelly agrees.

"Some doctors alienate patients in their beliefs, say there is no data, no science and dismiss it [alternative medicine.]"

Not all cancer treatments are clear-cut. Many "cure" the cancer and kill the patient. Some treatments make life such hell, the patient is barely living and wants to die.

Will there be civil liberties outrage? Will the ACLU take up the cause of this boy's right to self-determination? You know, it's funny, the same people who will scream about rights, seem to have no problem signing them away to a doctor. It is disturbing.

Tamoxifin Doesn't Work

Women with breast cancer stayed away from this nasty medication anyway. Now, the verdict is in: doesn't work and expensive to boot.

Blogger Burps

Have you had trouble loading Dr. Melissa's blog? Blogger had trouble again, today. Thus, the lack of posting this morning. It's safe now.

Maxed Out Mama Explains Men's Rights

Remember the men going to court to "take back their rights"? Yeah, well, the suit got thrown out, thankfully.

But MaxedOutMama perfectly summarizes the situation and the social horizon:

I'm amazed at how many people believe that that two adults should be able to have sex without the worry of having to deal with any potential pregnancy. I'd like to get to work without having to drive. I think the state should rent a helicopter and airlift me over. It's only fair.

Here's a brilliant idea:

132. My suggestion to make the system more fair
When a woman finds out she is pregnant, she must make a reasonable attempt to notify the potential father (father's) within a specific amount of time.

The potential father must then file a form with the local courthouse either accepting responsibilities and rights of fatherhood or declining them.

The potential mother is then given a copy of the potential father's form and then makes her decision as to whether the baby is birthed or not, knowing whether she will have a father participating in parenthood with her or not.

The reasons I like this plan are ...

The woman has absolute decision making authority on whether she births the baby or not.
The woman is not forced into parenthood without her permission.
The man is not forced into parenthood without his permission either.


But what about the baby?

All participating parents should put a fixed percentage of their income into a state child support pool and each eligible child should recieve the exact same check each month from the pool. To me it's ridiculous that one child gets 200 times more support than another child just because one woman bedded a rich guy and the other a poor guy. Each child is equally valuable.

What if there's not enough in the pool?

Then general state funds should make up the difference because a hungry child is the responsibility of all of us, whether our condoms broke or not.
That last provision is added because there would be even less incentive for "potential fathers" to decide to "accept" the rights and responsibilities of fatherhood if they were going to be paying for everyone else's children as well as their own. There would be very, very few men who would take that deal, and many of them would often be institutionalized, so I doubt they would be contributing much financially overall.

What a brilliant plan to make every child everyone's responsibility. We'll never change. The problem really is that some one has to be responsible, and so those who want irresponsibility plan to make everyone responsible. I really don't see how that's an improvement. Obviously marriage wouldn't last long under this scheme. Given voting coalitions, the funding for the "fatherless" kids would keep outstripping the funding that the average married man could provide to his own children, especially given the high taxation rates he'd be paying for the children of irresponsible losers such as this poster.

Marxism has reached its summit. The first post (which I do believe) is a female sort of marxist paradise, and the second is a male sort of marxist wonderland. However they show ominous signs of meeting at the pass and joining forces, so I think all the sane people had better be alert and ready.

Both plans are, of course, injurious to the child. But hey, this entire debate has never, ever, been about the children, has it? Not in the least. It's always about avoiding responsibility rather than taking it. Whether you pick a father at random out of the phone book, or whether you decide to hand out cigars to the entire population, the people advocating these schemes are always, always, always trying to avoid basic human responsibility - their own.
Emphasis in the last two paragraphs, mine. Yup. The ultimate outcome for "fairness" (not to the child) will be to make the state responsible for everyone's kids.

You can choose to not have sex. Men, women, it is called abstinance. You don't have to pay child support for abstaining. No sirreee bob. There are no "mistakes" that way.

That babies are stuck with such miserable, selfish, scumbag parents is the real crime. Men whining about money, when they didn't think past the end of their penis. Women whining about responsibility, when they thought creating a baby would "get the guy" or didn't have enough self-respect to demand a condom or, they bought the hype that condoms actually make sex safe.

It's called marriage. The chief beneficiary of this archaic and supposedly out-dated social institution is the child. Two is better than one--stronger. If one is wacky, the other one takes over. If one is sick, the other one works to support the family. That the parents enjoy security, companionship, and support is also a benefit. Remember: To love and to honor. To have and to hold, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, so help you GOD. Remember those vows?

Austin Bay: North Korea Counterfeiting U.S. Dollars

North Korea is getting more provocative. Launching missles, attempting to disrupt economies, and generally being a nuisance. Why? Does there have to be a why? Can someone just get crazy for the sake of it? Austin Bay links to this article:

The arrests also prompted a more momentous accusation. After the indictments were released, U.S. government and law-enforcement officials began to say in public something that they had long said in private: the counterfeits were being manufactured not by small-time crooks or even sophisticated criminal cartels but by the government of North Korea. “The North Koreans have denied that they are engaged in the distribution and manufacture of counterfeits, but the evidence is overwhelming that they are,” Daniel Glaser, deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes in the Treasury Department, told me recently. “There’s no question of North Korea’s involvement.”
Like Iran behind Syria and Hezbollah, it seems to me that China is the power behind the North Korean crazy. And linking them both? Russia. These powers play a dangerous game. It is one Saudi Arabia and Egypt are learning the hard way: placating and funding crazies is all fun and games until you're the one with the business end of a rocket-launcher pointed up yer snout.

Right now, it suits the wanna-be world Players purposes to use the crazies to pick at the U.S. and other Democracies committed to defending themselves. It also suits their purposes to see who folds like a cheap lawn chair--so far Spain, France, the Netherlands and other weak-kneed Europeans have all demonstrated public appeasement (helping behind the scenes, when useful, 'cause for all the hate speech, it would be nice if America is there, you know, just in case....).

The terrorism, in a sense, is working. It is revealing alliances. It is revealing weaknesses. You see, underneath all the nuttiness are a few Dr. Dementos waiting for their chances at world domination. The roots of nuttiness are the same: Fascism in the name of Islam and Communism in the name of "the people". Ha! It is laughable to write it, but more than a few American Leftists swoon at the allure. No, underneath the labels are a few guys who want the world to work according to their wishes and desires. Total control of everything!

Meanwhile on DailyKos, diarists talk about the dumbness of Americans, how the Bush's economy is "flawed", and it is Israel and Bush's fault the Mideast is in tumult. So, let me get this straight:
Americans are stupid, the economy sucks (yah, the 4% unemployment rate enjoyed here is horrible), and it's all the Jews fault. Read the comment thread at the Israel link. It is unbelievable, anti-semitic garbage.

By the way, I searched Kos for a link about Israel today and there was nothing. The last three days, only the anti-semitic post and the other an open thread. This is what constitutes serious thinking? War is bad. Guns bad. Killing is bad unless you're a suicide bomber and/or are Muslim. U.S. is bad. Israel is bad. Let's see, does that about sum up the deep thoughts?

Makes me think of the scripture, "When I was a child, I spoke as a child." When will these people put away childish words and grow up?

Class of Cancer Drugs Cause Heart Failure

Every day, I could do a new post about drugs that have unintended consequences. Here are the consequences:

"Clinical trials of the agent, however, have reported a relatively high incidence of peripheral edema (63% to 66%), some of which has been classified as severe (4% to 5%)," they wrote. "In addition, dyspnea has been reported in 12% to 16% of treated individuals and has been classified as severe in 4% to 5%."

"Although these symptoms and signs are difficult to evaluate in individuals with CML, it has become apparent to us in clinical practice that many individuals, including those reported herein, have developed left ventricular dysfunction and even frank congestive heart failure without a prior history of heart disease."

They characterized Gleevec as a "wonderful drug and patients with these diseases need to be on it." Nevertheless, "we're trying to call attention to the fact that Gleevec and other similar drugs coming along could have significant side effects on the heart and clinicians need to be aware of this."

The researchers recommended that patients taking Gleevec should be followed closely for signs of heart failure.
While this drug helps a majority of people, dying does seem like an adverse side effect. It also calls into question the absolute authority doctors enjoy when demanding that patients take a "life-saving" drug that makes them feel worse and could, in fact, make them sick.