"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours." -Sir Charles Napier
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Michael, God bless that cotton pickin' fertile ding dang noodle of yours! I now know that there is a thinking man among us who dares to speak up. xoxox Pam
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BigEarth of New Mexico sez, The warmest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great national moment, reserve their neutrality.
Bill Whittle's mom sez, If you can’t say anything of deep and meaningful scientific or political import that is not supported by fact, reason, historical precedent and in-depth step-by-step logical analysis then don’t say anything at all!

:: Wednesday, April 30 ::


This photo shows our ambassador walking out after Cuba got elected to the Human Rights Commission. To clarify, that is the same Cuba that took less than a month to execute the Havana ferry hijackers by firing squad, the same Cuba where Amnesty International for more than a year considered treatment of imprisoned Taliban at Guantanamo a priority, and the same Human Rights Commission that has had China, Syria, and Libya as members while the US was voted out.

Notice in that photo the representative from tiny Andorra, between Spain and France. Think the UN will ever recognize Israel? No, too small.

:: michael Wednesday, April 30, 2003 [+] ::

Virginia has made the most annoying spam a felony - a felony - and at first I wondered if that wasn't overkill. The states that made wine-by-mail a felony, which included my own North Carolina went to far with that. Of course, in my state its biggest supporter was one of the state's biggest wine and beer distributors. Likewise, the biggest ISP's are behind this legislation.

But there is a big, big difference between a California winery shipping an order across the state line and the internet losing its efficiency and value to spammers. Think also about independent people who rely on e-mail for work information (I arrange work for these people daily); if spam pushes an account over quota, then they miss that message and miss out on a job.

:: michael Wednesday, April 30, 2003 [+] ::
:: Tuesday, April 29 ::

I read a Rich Tucker column for the first time this morning, which puts our military size and strengh into perspective, and entertains by rebuking a recent fool. Tucker repeats that which is not repeated enough, to paraphrase: we have the power to rule the world and choose not to do it.

In other news..
UP to 2000 villagers torched a school earmarked as a SARS quarantine centre, ransacked government offices and overturned cars in China's first reported instance of social unrest related to SARS.
Tune in to "Meet The Press" Sunday morning when Tim Russert asks Defense Secretary Rumsfeld "How could we allow this to happen?"

:: michael Tuesday, April 29, 2003 [+] ::
:: Monday, April 28 ::
This morning's Bill Buckley column analyzes American Airlines, but inside the column you pick up some refreshment concerning not just our capitalist ways, but also the American way.

At the same time, I have been recently trying to figure out how capitalism can take care of the spam problem. Obviously, the creation and sending of spam is dirt cheap, so I did not see that low response to spam would stop it the way low response would stop pricey printed junk mail. Yesterday's new article, "That Damn Spam," took me back to the problem with fax abuse ten years ago.
"Spam is a scourge that benefits almost no one," says David Baker, vice president for legal and public policy for EarthLink, the nation's third-largest Internet service provider. Overwhelmed with spam, ISPs are lashing out. EarthLink has more than 100 lawsuits pending against spammers; America Online sued more than a dozen in the past week alone. Antispam activists are also lobbying Congress to ban unsolicited E-mail, much as it did with unwanted faxes in the early 1990s. The Federal Trade Commission, meanwhile, is convening a forum next week, the first gathering under a federal umbrella of all sides in the spam debate.
WWTFPILFNCSJED? What would the former personal injury lawyer from North Carolina, Senator John Edwards, do? Surely someone has been hurt by spam, because the important e-mail they needed was lost in a sea of unwanted messages. He might want to consider this, it could help make up for his setbacks in South Carolina.

:: michael Monday, April 28, 2003 [+] ::
:: Wednesday, April 23 ::

Cartoonists' choice Senator John Kerry was reported to be fundraising while Massachusetts' first Gulf War dead was being buried. The former Vietnam Veteran, more recently known for calling for a US regime change, has something to fall back on: he can claim he did not know it was a fundraiser, an excuse that fairly worked in 1996 for then-Vice President Al Gore after his visit to the Buddhist Temple. (Even when Gore cancelled another LA fundraising appearance to go to the temple.)

So let's understand the rules here. It is wrong for the Republicans to sell a September 11, 2001 photograph of President Bush on the phone, but it is acceptable for Massachusetts' veteran Senator to raise money in Arizona during the burial of his home state's 22 year old war dead.

Again this is where Kerry shows his inability to think things through. First, he lifts his slogans from already-fading bumper stickers, and then he fails to see that he could have been getting photographed (wearing medals optional) at that funeral while John McCain could have been doing the fundraising for him back in Arizona.

:: michael Wednesday, April 23, 2003 [+] ::
:: Friday, April 18 ::

The former personal injury lawyer from North Carolina, Senator John Edwards has had to return questionable donations to a Little Rock law firm. It seems a law clerk had an agreement with her boss to reimburse her for "her" two thousand dollar "donation" which was actually part of $10,000 in donations from inside that firm.

"The Edwards campaign is committed to operating under the highest ethical standards," spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said.

That's nice, Jen - are you going to promise "the most ethical White House in history"? John Kerry, by comparison, would still be less original.

To clarify, this is the same Little Rock where one Charlie Trie, all-you-can-eat Chinese and foreign money conduit, managed to support the Clinton Democrats with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Is it either that they cannot learn, or that their hunger for more money is still what drives them while their masses decry Republican greed?

:: michael Friday, April 18, 2003 [+] ::
:: Thursday, April 17 ::

Reports are coming in that the former personal injury lawyer from North Carolina, Senator John Edwards, is losing support in spite of being soooo handsome. Kerry, the cartoonists' choice, will likely win the South Carolina primary with the backing of the man who Edwards was counting on, former SC Trial Lawyers' Association President Alex Sanders. This even after Edwards "supported" and "honored" the NAACP boycott of South Carolina, designed to make South Carolina's blacks look and feel like victims, with the too-bad side effect of endangering the job of any black employed in hotel/restaurant/entertainment/tourism.

It seemed like the perfect combination: a personal injury lawyer and a state slightly more than half-full of victims.

Today, George Will argues again for tort reform, an issue that I have long thought should be at the top of the list. His writing, consistent as usual, stresses how this should and should not be done, thereby decrying the activist court. It is very smart reading.

:: michael Thursday, April 17, 2003 [+] ::
:: Wednesday, April 16 ::
This Blog will echo an earlier post about watching dance on stage. I finally got to see the Alvin Ailey dance troupe Ailey II last night. I have never had a lesson in the subject, and have to admit that I don't know how to critique it. At many times, I just don't get it. If I could interview any of the dancers, the question of synchronicity would come up -How important is it? Does such a standard come from watching synchronized swimming at the Olympics, and is it overly applied to modern dance? One thing is certain: these people are extremely hard workers and are why the American stage is so great.

When it comes to dance, however, sometimes I think its purpose is to take great photos. Also, when dance groups represent male-female interaction, the suspension of disbelief is truly one of their great challenges.

Momix dance group, on the other hand, gave about my favorite show ever, and I would actually travel to see them again.

To reiterate: As David wrote in a Psalm to God, "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and my soul knows that very well."

:: michael Wednesday, April 16, 2003 [+] ::
:: Tuesday, April 15 ::

I was reminded yesterday why I so seldom want to read the letters page in my local paper. With the heading, "Saddam and chicken industry have much in common," I thought as many do on impulse that only in Asheville do we have these letters in the paper. It threw me back to when a local wrote, "Today America has a Hitler, and his name is Kenneth Star."

But I find relief in remembering that PETA's headquarters is located in Norfolk, Virginia. An old friend returned from a year at Richmond College in London, wild-eyed with pro-animal indoctrination (but she soon recovered and now loves carpaccio). So hey! - the wackos are everywhere.

Relief also comes in knowing the paper evidently prints all letters. That way these people have their public forum and may not go to further lengths to express themselves:
There are reports of Saddam Hussein stuffing fully conscious humans into plastic shredders. If true, these acts defy human decency. Yet the same crimes takes place daily in America; the difference is that the millions of victims are animals.

Fifty percent of laying chickens born are male, and of no use to the egg industry. They can't be raised as "broilers" since birds raised for meat are genetically different. On the day the chicks are hatched, one common method to dispose of the males is to grind them up alive. Unproductive hens are also ground up to be turned into animal feed.

However much Americans claim moral superiority, the fact is that we routinely commit unspeakable acts of cruelty toward animals. It is a scientific fact that animals have well-developed nervous systems rendering them capable of feeling pain. Most people would agree that torturing animals is just plain wrong. For a society to legally allow "farmers" to grind up fully conscious animals is hideous.

I'm not making the argument that chickens are the moral equivalent of humans. But chickens are not inanimate objects; there is a moral imperative to not torture them. Simple human decency requires nothing less.

Stewart David
Now I was impressed with one thing here - this writer is aware of the shredding machines in the torture chambers that are now closed. But it remains: if he supported the war to overthrow Saddam the Shredder, does he call for the storming of northwest Arkansas?

:: michael Tuesday, April 15, 2003 [+] ::
:: Monday, April 14 ::

The need for a particular and essential right was excellently demonstrated in Iraq over the past few days. While the looting has been the talk of the media, even Tim Russert slipped and asked Donald Rumsfeld "How can we allow this to happen?" After rightly declaring that the US did not allow the looting to happen, that there was nothing surprising about about how these people behaved after living under Saddam's oppression, Rumsfeld reminded Russert that looting even happens in this country.

There are, however, Iraqis who are not allowing it to happen. At the edges of at least one of the middle class neighborhoods, its residents set up barricades and turned away would-be looters with their firearms.
In the large cities, order is returning neighborhood by neighborhood, as locals organize self defense units and oppose roving bands of looters. The coalition commanders have called Iraqi civil servants to come back to work, with the coalition guaranteeing the payroll. The looting and anarchy will diminish in Baghdad over the next few days, as it has done earlier in Basra.
This is exactly how the residents of Homestead, Florida had to protect their neighborhoods after the devastation of Hurricane Andrew. The media in both cases is missing the importance of this.

I am glad it has been a year since the ten-year anniversary of the LA riots, which the media almost seemed to celebrate. It would be a mistake to apply Rumsfeld's remarks to LA - those looters weren't oppressed, they were hooligans to begin with who took advantage of a controversial verdict and proceeded to destroy their own neighborhood and "protest" racism by targeting the Koreans. And it was the Koreans who, like the armed Iraqi and Homestead residents, armed themselves, took defensive positions, and defended themselves and their property.

:: michael Monday, April 14, 2003 [+] ::
:: Thursday, April 10 ::
"I'm 49, but I never lived a single day. Only now will I start living," said Yussuf Abed Kazim, a mosque preacher, as he bashed the statue's pedestal with a sledgehammer, knocking off tile and concrete. "That Saddam Hussein is a murderer and a criminal."
Today is the anniversary of the passing of the US Civil Rights Bill, brought to mind when I viewed this photo of Saddam's statue being dragged behind an Iraqi vehicle. Well, that's one the NAACP actually can blame on George W. Bush.

I got emotional over what I saw yesterday, watching live our marines in Paradise Square roll in and let the flag blow in the wind as the tanks circled. I considered being late to work just to watch the statue come down. It was a good morning, waking up to an NPR announcement that Iraqis were celebrating in the streets and chanting pro-American slogans. I could have found some protesters and apologized for the media's overexposure of liberated Iraqis and for campaigning for the President that freed them, but I have a job.

Ananova's (poor quality) photos of a man beating the image of Saddam's face... or (look carefully) is it the Unabomber's? It is noteworthy that Saddam and Kazinsky had a lot of admirers in common.

:: michael Thursday, April 10, 2003 [+] ::
:: Tuesday, April 8 ::

About a five weeks ago, Asheville reporter and peace rally attender Leslie Boyd wrote a guest column for the local newspaper, in which she reminded us that watching the war on TV was not watching the Superbowl, that there was death inside every explosion, and that we should be praying for forgiveness as we take human life. Well, I appreciate her remarks. While I didn't agree with all her column, and could in fact rebuke some of it, her advice on how to view this thing reminded me of how it saddens God to exercise his justice as well.

On the other hand, as I got the news of a probable bombing of Saddam and his sons last night, I watched the (poorly positioned) video and the repeated red flashes. Ms. Boyd's good advice put aside this time, it was good to get a glimpse of where Saddam is going.

:: michael Tuesday, April 08, 2003 [+] ::
:: Monday, April 7 ::

I spent time last night with my (not token - she's fantstic) liberal friend and we agreed that Kerry's writers should be doing much better than having him deliver the already trite call for a "regime change" in Washington. I was thinking this based on visions of bumper stickers and badly written signs at protests. Matt Drudge, however, traces the use of this bewhiskered slogan beyond the bumper stickers to reveal that Kerry is at least the seventh high-profile person to say such a thing.

Is this a gravitas phenomenon? No, even the press has figured out who has the seriousness and the sobriety in Washington.


Interestingly, my liberal friend earned a PhD in environmental policy, but to keep things focused, I did not bring up yesterday's amazing news that we are not experiencing quite the global warming that all the screaming has been about. A Harvard research team has thoroughly examined the data from the Middle Ages and determined they were much hotter before a harmful cooling period in the 1300's.

Now let's watch those undermined scientists scramble to build an argument that this current warming trend will be hotter.

:: michael Monday, April 07, 2003 [+] ::
:: Friday, April 4 ::

People in official positions and official opinion makers alike will continue to decry the inappropriateness of Senator John Kerry's remarks calling for a "regime change " in the White House.

What struck me was how completely unoriginal his remark was. There he was, saying he had the right stuff to be the Commander in Chief, and he can't do any better than repeat a slogan from a bumper sticker. Is this where the Democratic presidency is going... from leading by polls to leading by clever phrases?

Of course it's about as clever as "no blood for oil", as both exhibit a conscious ignorance of fact, and it's this sort of speech that makes President Bush's malaprops downright refreshing. Too bad he missed the plane with Bonior, McDermott, and Sean Penn.

And what does this say about Kerry's constituency, with visions of the increasingly lawless demonstrators blocking the streets and distracting the police? Who thinks he can represent ordinary Americans any better than the former personal injury lawyer from North Carolina, Senator John Edwards, can represent the regular guy?

Yes, I remember when President Bush the First got caught being surprised by the bar code scanner and everyone said, "See? -he's out of touch," But I also recall him embracing the same values as ordinary Americans. There is a big big difference, and it is illustrated by who Kerry has pandered to.

:: michael Friday, April 04, 2003 [+] ::
:: Thursday, April 3 ::

Less than a week after Al-Jazeera appeals to the United States to protect their free-press rights... in America, they have found themselves being asked to leave Iraq... by the Iraqis. HA!

So what did they do, report that the "first war plan has just failed because of coalition resistance. Clearly, the Iraqi war planners misjudged the determination of the coalition forces."?

Is there a Daily Mirror counterpart in Qatar that will hire them? Will Sen. Jim Bunning's counterpart in Iraq declare a fatwa against Al-Jazeera's staff? Will the peace protesters and Amnesty International call on Iraq to protect the press?
This could get interesting.

:: michael Thursday, April 03, 2003 [+] ::
:: Wednesday, April 2 ::

Hagel, Kerry, and McCain will soon co-sponsor a bill to fund a visitor's center at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial. Do we really need that? I hadn't thought about that until now. I visit the wall every time I visit the Mall, and one of the two reasons I will never revisit the FDR memorial is because it opens with one of those damned visitor centers with a gift shop (the other is that it is phenomenally tacky and an insulting waste of money). I noticed the same tacky gift shop at the King Memorial in Atlanta in 1989.

The best memorials speak for themselves, and no one should need a guidebook to explain the meaning of over 59,000 names carved in black stone. The best guide is that veteran with the bumper sticker stand in front of the Lincoln Memorial, the one who used to sell the sticker that read, "Only in America does a homeless vet sleep in a cardboard box, and a draft dodger sleep in the White House."

The proposal is actually for an underground educational center, but I worry about the inevitable souvenir shop(pe).

The French, on the other hand, could definitely use that visitor's center. After vandals desecrated the British cemetery with spray paint and, among the messages, "Dig up your garbage, it is fouling our soil," they need a French state employee standing there reminding them that these particular British died defending France. Further, I was surprised at the image, showing that the design-conscious French cannot even correctly reproduce the Nazi swastika that flew over their country just sixty years ago, before more British and Americans came, again, to their defense.

:: michael Wednesday, April 02, 2003 [+] ::
:: Tuesday, April 1 ::

A wine writer with no time to blog this morning links you to this month's wine article, describing three wine drinking personalities we have little in common with. CAUTION: there is a F***** wine on the list.

:: michael Tuesday, April 01, 2003 [+] ::