Monday, January 31, 2005

Advice from a Doctor (and a Blogger)

In regard to the challenges facing Capt. Ed and his wife, our friend Babs, a physician who blogs at Girl in Right, has more on the nature of the disease and one of the remedies. Excerpt:

Let's hope for a pancreas to become available to The First Mate and to all on the transplant lists. No one prays for the death of another to save their own. But we can pray that organs that are potentially life saving aren't buried or cremated. That more people take the time to sign their donor card and make their will known to their families.

It's like making out your will. No one enjoys it. But sit down, do it, then get back to the game.

Radio Without Borders

The Northern Alliance Radio Network, the first radio show in the history of broadcasting, inspired by, hosted by, and continuously driven by blog authors and readers ... has gotten into the blogging business.

Actually, the show has always had a blog, but it's never been exploited to its full potential. Specifically, its ability to extend the conversation for the further enlightenment of all. Believe it or not, time constraints and the capricious dictates of the surly gatekeepers (that's us) need not dictate the ebb and flow of ideas and discussion. Instead, we're going to encourage that it keeps going, as long it takes to satiate everyone's curiosity and interest level.

This past week's interview subjects are both featured on strings up on the NARN site now:

The case of Ahmad al-Qloushi, the Kuwaiti exchange student given a failing grade and a diagnosis of mental illness by his college professor, for submitting an essay in support of the principles of the Founding Fathers.

And Ryan Pacyga, a local attorney spearheading the movement to fight the state government's plan to impose smoking bans on all Minnesota bars and restaurants, submits his further ideas on the issue.

If you heard the show (or even if you didn't), click on over, read more, and jump in on the conversation.

And if you have ideas for anything else NARN-related, be sure to drop us an email or something pithy in the comments section. Direct feedback is a rare thing in the broadcasting business, therefore it's likely that your thoughts will be taken seriously far beyond their proportional (and maybe their qualitative) significance.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Blogging While Intoxicated

Doug over at Bogus Gold chronicles the hazards of drinking while blogging:

...I killed my computer last night. Killed as in dead-as-a-doorknob. It's now no more useful than a fancy and extremely expensive paperweight.

Things I blame: Gin. And the awkward shape and stability of the classic martini glass. And the fact that the CD player I was reaching for was sitting on the opposite side of the computer, forcing me to reach across.
...
So anyway, just in case you were curious, gin, vermouth, and a small amount of olive juice is not something you should ever use to clean the keyboard of your notebook computer - intentionally or not.


I feel for you, Doug. The same thing has happened to me many times but, fortunately, the only loss I have ever suffered is several ounces of Bombay Sapphire and a martini glass or two. Painful? Yes, but certainly not as expensive as having to replace my computer.

Mishaps like these is why I always blog wearing one of those drinking helmets...modified to hold two half gallon bottles of Sapphire in place of the beer, of course. Sure, it's a little heavy at the beginning but after a few sips you stop caring.
Did Somebody Mention Abortion?

Reader Tim G. responds to my post on the Colorado abortion burials:

During local radio coverage of the burial of the remains of the aborted babies, I heard one interviewee express a very good point: why are the pro-abortionists making such a fuss? They didn't have much to say when the baby was removed from the womb, but now it's an issue?

Some people, when they discover they're pregnant, give the baby a name, and make their plans for that child to come into their lives. Rarely, but tragically, they sometimes suffer a miscarriage or the child dies from complications during childbirth. When that happens to these people, they conduct memorial services for their baby. I do not understand why the people who have elected to have an abortion, or support abortion policies, would care that someone else values what they have thrown away.


That is an excellent point. Personally, I suspect that their outrage arises to a large degree from the fact that they themselves recognize the inherent value in what they have destroyed and they'd just as soon not think about it. That others are calling attention to the fact that a human life was unceremoniously disposed of makes it harder for them to justify their actions to society and, more importantly, themselves.

If the pro-abortion crowd had their way, everyone would consider the unborn to be nothing more than worthless unviable tissue with value attributable to them if and only if they are wanted. In such a world abortion loses its stigma, human life becomes less valuable and can therefore be discarded with impunity. That's not the kind of world I want to live in.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Touch gently this life which You have created, now and forever

Capt. Ed Morrissey and his lovely wife, the First Mate Marcia, are two of the most genuinely good people and kindest souls I've ever met. Which only compounds the sadness felt over Marcia's recent medical problems. Ed chronciles them in his usual honest, and eternally hopeful and inspirational way. He asks for your prayers and given the goodwill spread by Ed over the years, whatever he asks, he deserves to receive. King Banaian leads the way.
Spirit Of Sirius

I like to go to the gym during lunch and get a workout in. I also usually listen to Rush on the headphones while I do so. Yesterday, as I rested between reps I started thinking about radio and how incredibly dated the entire premise of it is.

Radio started in the days when people basically had no money for entertainment. Smart businessmen decided to come up with a deal where the audience would get their entertainment for free over the airwaves in exchange for having to listen to paid ads. In 1930, this was a pretty good deal for most people who would never had access to news, weather, sports and Fibber McGee and Molly in any other way.

But 75 years later? Why on earth would I subject myself to annoying ads, limited programming and stale, over-played music when by plopping down a few hundred bucks and signing up for Sirius satellite radio I can get every kind of programming imaginable and WITHOUT ads?

I admit I now look down on the poor souls who have to put up with commercial over-the-air radio: they're rubbing two sticks together and I'm walking around with a flamethrower.

One of the things I'm discovering from listening to non-ad talk shows on Sirius is that isn't so much the ads that kill conventional talk radio it's the momentum that the breaks destroy. Rush will just be getting into a groove when he is cut short and forced to start over where he left off when the ads are over.

Again, why should I put up with this? Sirius is about nine bucks a month--a pittance to be given all of the entertainment, news and music options it bestows.

We have all heard that Stern will be moving to Sirius when his contract ends with Viacom. I would hope that other shock jocks give Sirius (or XM) serious consideration when their contracts are up. The conservative talk show audience has dough, but they are not exactly early adopters of new technology. Once more and more of us start to realize that we are living in the stone age of radio and there's a product available that is markedly superior to that old transistor, there will be a revolution afoot.

Hmm...kind of like what is happening with blogs and the MSM.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Rocket from the Crypt

The great John Hinderaker, regarding his interview on the Al Franken Show:

I can say without hesitation that it was the stupidest interview I have ever been involved in.

And this coming from a guy who had to sit through Chad the Elder's interview with Santa Claus on Northern Alliance Radio a few weeks back.

For far less stupid radio, don't forget tomorrow, noon to 3 PM, the Northern Alliance Radio Network This week's decidedly non-stupid interviews include Ahmad Al-Qloushi, described by the Washington Times as:

a Kuwaiti student at a college in California, who was told by a professor that he should seek psychological help - for appreciating and admiring America's legacy!

And Ryan Pacyga, described by Mitch Berg as:

Ryan Pacyga, attorney working against the smoking ban.

Mr. Pacyga is also a featured performer in the newest fusion of jurisprudence and entertainment in the Twin Cities:

Lawyers on Ice

Yes, things really get desperate in these parts during an NHL lockout.

It all happens tomorrow, noon to 3PM, locally on AM1280 the Patriot and worldwide, ceaselessly streaming on the Web here. I can honestly state, it would behoove you not to miss it!
Food Fight!

The titanic battle of wills, to be played out before your eyes, Thursday February 10 at the Downtown Minneapolis Hilton.

No I'm not talking about the Northern Alliance's proletarian struggle against the capricious dictates of management to receive free tickets to the Hugh Hewitt-Peter Beinart debate regarding the future of the Democratic party. (That battle has been resolved to the satisfaction of all.) No, I'm talking about the Hugh Hewitt-Peter Beinart debate regarding the future of the Democratic party itself.

Hugh Hewitt is a Harvard man, law professor, journalist, former Nixon and Reagan crony, blogger, and blog visionary.

Peter Beinart is a Yale and Oxford man, journalist, political philosopher, the esteemed editor of the New Republic and presumptive savior of American liberalism.

See these two giants of intellect and media savvy presentation engage in what is perhaps the critical political question of the age: Can the Democrats ever win an election that matters again? As a bonus, see the Northern Alliance answer what is perhaps the critical political question of their age: Does our free dinner include free drink tickets as well?

Thursday, February 10, at the beautiful Downtown Minneapolis Hilton. Call soon, a few good tickets still remain. They can be secured online here. Or call 651-289-4444. Or contact the fine folks at AM1280 the Patriot.

A sumptuous dinner, strong drinks, and hobnobbing with celebrities and intellectuals (and the Northern Alliance). It's going to be a great time, don't you dare miss it!
Paging Joseph Heller...

This story must be giving the pro-abortion crowd fits in Colorado:

Despite objections from abortion advocates, a local Catholic Church went forward with a Sunday burial service for hundreds of unborn children whose ashes were given to it by a mortuary that services a late-term abortion facility.
...
The church had expected to bury more than a thousand unborn children, but Warren Hearn's (sic) abortion business blocked their efforts and asked the church to return the babies' remains to the mortuary.
...
The development has Hearn (sic) vividly upset and he says Crist Mortuary was not supposed to dispose of the ashes of the babies in a religious ceremony unless receiving his permission.

"My patients are calling, and they're furious and horrified because they have worked through this," Hern claimed in an interview with the Denver Post newspaper. "They're furious at Crist Mortuary and the Catholic Church for making a public spectacle in this macabre death ritual."


Making a living by tearing babies out of their mothers' wombs is acceptable to Mr. Hern but giving their remains a proper burial is a "macabre death ritual"? Or is Mr. Hern more upset by the fact that this has become a "public spectacle"? Yes, it's best that we don't notice the 1.3 million human lives that are lost to abortion every year in the United States alone (that's about 40,000,000 lives lost since 1973 if you're keeping track).

The New York Times comes through with the clincher:

Was the material that the parishioners interred on Sunday in blue cloth bags mere medical waste? Or human remains? Colorado law has very different things to say about burial depending upon the answer, said State Representative Debbie Stafford, who has been involved in writing funeral law legislation and who went to the ceremony to support the church. A party seeking to bury cremated unclaimed human remains, for example, is bound by numerous legal requirements, including a year's waiting period after death, Ms. Stafford said. She said she believes the church members violated no laws if all they did was bury human medical waste, which is subject to different rules.
...
"The church was told it was receiving human medical waste," said Ms. Stafford, who identified herself as an abortion opponent. "The collision course issue here is the definition of human."

If abortion advocates want to say we're dealing with "human medical waste" here, then what's the problem? If, on the other hand, they want to apply the legal requirements of cremated human remains, then when does Mr. Hern's murder trial begin?
Oh, And One More Thing

In Ottawa last week, 84-year-old Archie Bennitz died of lung cancer. Among his final requests was that his feelings about the NHL labor stalemate be included in his obituary. His son, David, obliged. "He asked that Mr. Bettman and Mr. Goodenow know that they are 'skunks' for denying him the pleasure of watching the NHL on TV this year," read Bennitz's death notice in the Ottawa Citizen. "He also asked that Mr. Bettman step aside and give Wayne Gretzky the job that rightfully belongs to him."

Thursday, January 27, 2005

In The Glass

I've been enjoying two exceptional single malts recently. The Balvenie Double Wood 12 and a bottle of Glenrothes 12 the Elder gave me for my birthday.

Hard to say which is best, although I would have to give a slight nod to the Glenrothes if for no other reason than it was free. Speaking of free, even though the Elder gave the scotch to me for my birthday it didn't stop him from consuming fully 1/4 of the bottle and a goodly portion of the Balvenie when we hung out a few weeks back.

I thought he had just brought the bottle himself, as I was helping myself to a healthy tumblerfull when he said "Oh, by the way, that's your birthday present."

A Dangerous Mix

Finnish Nationalist Bill Tuomala (of Exiled on Mainstreet and Rocks Off fame), writes in to comment on the reported preferred method for Chileans and Argentineans to pan a film: the hoisting of Molotov cocktails:

For some sick reason when I read your recent post on Che, all I could think of was: "Yep, my people over in the old country invented (or at least named) the Molotov Cocktail!" I love this entry from Wikipedia. Specifically the "Safety" part, which doubles as a 'Molotovs For Dummies' instructional:


Despite the crudeness it is tricky for an amateur to make an effective Molotov cocktail. The main failure is in over-filling the bottle. A full bottle will not ignite quickly when it breaks on impact (but has a longer burning potential). For a device to explode rapidly on impact the bottle is only one half to two-thirds full of mixture. One difficulty of mention is not paying attention to carefully wiping the bottle down to remove all traces of the internal flammable liquid from the external parts of the bottle prior to lighting the rag. Another is to mistakenly use the ignition rag to stopper the bottle.

Other difficulties come with the proper fixing of the stopper in the mouth of the bottle (it must be airtight to prevent fumes from escaping), the proper fixing of the rag (use metal wire to securely fasten it. Also, a short rag is better), the possibility of mishandling after the rag is ignited, and the use of inappropriate bottles, such as short-necked, wide-mouthed, too fragile or too tough.

Maybe it was the Molotov Cocktail that kept Finland out of the Warsaw Pact post-WWII?


Well, it was either that or the Paasikivi Doctrine, defined in the Wikipedia entry for Findlandization (which sounds like it might have been Rudy Perpich's secret plan to evacuate the Iron Range, with honor):

Finland's foreign relations were guided by the Paasikivi doctrine, emphasizing the necessity to maintain a good and trusting relationship with the Soviet Union. To this end, Finland signed an Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance with the Soviet Union in April 1948. Under this pact, Finland was obliged to resist armed attacks by "Germany or its allies" against Finland, or against the Soviet Union through Finland, and, if necessary, ask for Soviet military aid to do so. At the same time, the agreement recognized Finland's desire to remain outside great-power conflicts, allowing the country to adopt a policy of neutrality during the Cold War. Hence Finland did not participate in the Marshall Plan and took neutral positions on Soviet overseas initiatives. By keeping very cool relations to NATO, and to western military powers in general, Finland could fend off Soviet preludes for affiliation to the Warsaw Pact.

A little bomb throwing here, some appeasement of evil there. Yep, that sounds like every Finn I know.

UPDATE: Tuomala responds.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The World May Not Be Getting Warmer, But I Am

Off to Miami for few days of resting', relaxing', and recreating'. And likely very little, if any blogging. Although I understand that Hugh is now on the air in Miami (although you won't find it listed on his web site-maybe when the new iteration comes out), so I won't be completely out of touch.

I'll be toting Michael Crichton's State Of Fear with me on the trip. I've been looking forward to cracking open his latest work and hope it lives up to the hype.

If you're interested in Crichton's views on pressing matters of the day such as global warming, you can check out the transcripts from some of his speeches here. Don't miss the January 17, 2003 lecture at Caltech titled "Aliens Cause Global Warming." I knew they were involved somehow. They always are.
The Business of Business Is Business

A couple of weeks ago I received an e-mail from Nathan questioning whether it was appropriate for the US government and corporations to be providing assistance to the victims of the Asian tsunami. In reply I laid out what I thought was a pretty convincing argument for the US government to play a role, citing our interest in stability in the region and the simple fact that no one else had the ability to project the power required. How many aircraft carriers does the UN have?

But my answer on whether it was appropriate for corporations to donate money for tsunami relief efforts left much to be desired. Despite the fact that I've expressed my reservations about corporate philanthropy in the past, this time around I fell into the trap of unquestioning acceptance. How could corporations doing the "right thing" be wrong?

This week's Economist contains a survey of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Most of the survey is available on the internet for subscribers only (yet another reason why you should get the mag). However, the introduction is available to all and it lays out the case against CSR:

Capitalism does not need the fundamental reform that many CSR advocates wish for. If CSR really were altering the bones behind the face of capitalism--sawing its jaws, removing its teeth and reducing its bite--that would be bad: not just for the owners of capital, who collect the company's profits, but, as this survey will argue, also for society at large. Better that CSR be undertaken as a cosmetic exercise than as serious surgery to fix what doesn't need fixing.

Other parts of the survey further the argument that most CSR activity is not only not appropriate for corporations, but that it can actually prove counter-productive for society at large. I've included links to the various parts of the survey that you can access if you're an Economist subscriber and excerpts from them.

The first section (subscription required) examines the way that corporations serve the public good by doing what they do best; make profits.

Simply put, advocates of CSR work from the premise that unadorned capitalism fails to serve the public interest. The search for profit, they argue, may be a regrettable necessity in the modern world, a sad fact of life if there is to be any private enterprise. But the problem is that the profits of private enterprise go exclusively to shareholders. What about the public good? Only if corporations recognise their obligations to society--to "stakeholders" other than the owners of the business--will that broader social interest be advanced. Often, governments can force such obligations on companies, through taxes and regulation. But that does not fully discharge the enlightened company's debt to society. For that, one requires CSR.

This is wrong. The goal of a well-run company may be to make profits for its shareholders, but merely in doing that--provided it faces competition in its markets, behaves honestly and obeys the law--the company, without even trying, is doing good works. Its employees willingly work for the company in exchange for wages; the transaction makes them better off. Its customers willingly pay for the company's products; the transaction makes them better off also. All the while, for strictly selfish reasons, well-run companies will strive for friendly long-term relations with employees, suppliers and customers. There is no need for selfless sacrifice when it comes to stakeholders. It goes with the territory.

Thus, the selfish pursuit of profit serves a social purpose. And this is putting it mildly. The standard of living people in the West enjoy today is due to little else but the selfish pursuit of profit. It is a point that Adam Smith emphasised in "The Wealth of Nations": "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest." This is not the fatal defect of capitalism, as CSR-advocates appear to believe; it is the very reason capitalism works.


The next part of the survey (subscription) specifically addresses donations to charities by corporations and concludes that giving away other people's money is not real philanthropy.

A question to ask of all outbreaks of corporate goodness is, who is paying? Following the Indian Ocean tsunami, many companies made generous donations to charities helping the victims. There could be no worthier cause--but keep in mind that, in the case of public companies, the managers authorising those donations were giving other people's money, not their own. Philanthropy at others' expense, even in a cause as good as that one, is not quite the real thing.

It also looks at recycling:

By and large, the world is not running out of resources; where it is, prices reflect that fact. As a result, the ordinary pursuit of profits is an excellent guide to companies on whether to recycle. There is no need to anoint recycling as a kind of moral standard of responsible behaviour. And if doing so succeeds in deflecting companies from thinking hard about their costs, actual social harm results. Use of materials is an area where private and social benefits are typically well-aligned.

And the true state of the environment:

So far as environmental externalities are concerned, most leading advocates of CSR seem to be in the grip of a grossly exaggerated environmental pessimism. The claim that economic growth is necessarily bad for the environment is an article of faith in the CSR movement. But this idea is simply wrong.

Natural resources are not running out, if you measure effective supply in relation to demand. The reason is that scarcity raises prices, which spurs innovation: new sources are found, the efficiency of extraction goes up, existing supplies are used more economically, and substitutes are invented.


Whenever people portray corporations as bastions of conservative, free market thinkers I chuckle. Most corporations would like nothing more than to choke their competitors in a sea of government regulation. And they often use the guise of CSR to achieve this end.

This danger is compounded when CSR leaders campaign for the introduction of codes that impose such standards on all firms. This too may be fine for profits, which is why so many companies have begun to endorse this policy. It is a good idea for a business to hobble its competition if possible--which is what mandatory labour standards of the sort demanded of the WTO tend to do. How much better if grasping this commercial advantage can be disguised as acting the good corporate citizen. But hobbling the competition is bad for the public at large. Again, by depriving them of investment, such perverted virtue especially harms the economic prospects of developing countries.

Although it is true that many business leaders mean what they say about good corporate citizenship, and speak up for CSR in good faith, CSR is nonetheless far more often invoked as a rationale for anti-competitive practices than as a reason to bolster competition. Incumbent firms or professions seem to find it easier to comply with burdensome regulations if they know that those rules are deterring new entrants. That is why, often in the name of CSR, incumbent businesses are so given to calling for rules and standards to be harmonised and extended, both at home and abroad.

The survey makes (subscription) an important distinction between greed and self-interest:

Does this mean that Gordon Gekko, the odious protagonist of the movie, "Wall Street", was right to say that "greed is good"? No: greed and self-interest are not the same thing, as Mr Gekko discovered in that movie. Greed, in the ordinary meaning of the word, is not rational or calculating. Freely indulged, it makes you fat and drives you into bankruptcy. The kind of self-interest that advances the public good is rational and enlightened. Rational, calculating self-interest makes a person, or a firm, worry about its reputation for honesty and fair dealing, for paying debts and honouring agreements. It looks beyond the short term and plans ahead. It considers sacrifices today for the sake of gains tomorrow, or five years from now. It makes good neighbours.

Morally, also, there is a world of difference between greed and self-interest. The first, even if it were not self-defeating, would still be a gross perversion of the second. Failing to see this distinction, and thus concluding without further thought that private enterprise is tainted, is a kind of ethical stupidity. Greed is ugly. There is nothing ignoble, in contrast, about a calm and moderate desire to advance one's own welfare, married (as it is in most people) to a sympathetic regard for the well-being of others. And, as Smith pointed out, rational self-interest also happens to make the world go round.


The summary (subscription) drives home the idea that giving away other people's money is not philanthropy:

The crucial point is that managers of public companies do not own the businesses they run. They are employed by the firms' owners to maximise the long-term value of the owners' assets. Putting those assets to any other use is cheating the owners, and that is unethical.

And it concludes with an unapologetic defense of the role of corporations:

This seeming paradox only underlines the point that businesses should not try to do the work of governments, just as governments should not try to do the work of businesses. The goals of business and the goals of government are different--or should be. That, by the way, is why "partnership" between those two should always arouse intense suspicion. Managers, acting in their professional capacity, ought not to concern themselves with the public good: they are not competent to do it, they lack the democratic credentials for it, and their day jobs should leave them no time even to think about it. If they merely concentrate on discharging their responsibility to the owners of their firms, acting ethically as they do so, they will usually serve the public good in any case.

The proper guardians of the public interest are governments, which are accountable to all citizens. It is the job of elected politicians to set goals for regulators, to deal with externalities, to mediate among different interests, to attend to the demands of social justice, to provide public goods and collect the taxes to pay for them, to establish collective priorities where that is necessary and appropriate, and to organise resources accordingly.

The proper business of business is business. No apology required.


Is it too late to change my answer Nathan?
Can You Say That?

Was I the only one who heard Dennis Prager drop a G** D*** on his show today when he was talking about the failure of traditional US allies to support the elections in Iraq?
Traffic Report

What does a prominent mention of your Web site in the Pioneer Press's editorial page get you in terms of increased traffic these days? According to superficial analysis, nada mucho.

Differences between Monday, January 24 and Tuesday, January 25 (the day the Yost editorial ran):

Hits: 19,445 to 20,663 (+6.3%)
Pages: 3,964 to 4,303 (+8.6%)
Unique Visitors: 2,734 to 2,759 (+0.1%)

25 extra bodies, hanging around to view a few extra pages. (Welcome to you all, you beautiful, brilliant people.)

I'm not complaining mind you, we appreciate the hell out of the publicity. But I've heard of similarly mild migrations from others who's URLs have appeared in the broadsheets. Based on that scant anecdotal evidence, we'll rule out Yost's skill in persuasion as the special cause of the problem. (Although we'll never know the destructive result of the unfortunate "child molesters" simile. Considering that, I suppose we should be glad we didn't lose traffic.)

Hasty conclusion based on superficial analysis - overwhelmingly, MSM consumers aren't ready, willing, or able to accept blogs as a valid source of information or entertainment. We weren't expecting a flood of new traffic. But you'd think if the pump was already primed we'd have gotten a nice little splash.

Or maybe we didn't get the traffic because everyone rushed over to the Nihilist in Golf Pants instead.

Although our collection of new visitors may be small, they're powerful. At least they're good artists. Dan Lacy writes to tell me he saw us in the PiPress. And he happens to be a blogger-cartoonist, from a site called Faithmouse, who describes his stuff thusly:

Faithmouse is a Christian conservative editorial cartoon online since 1998 and which appears and/or is linked on over 260 web sites including newsmax.com and mensnewsdaily.com. My cartoons have been lauded on Polipundit and maligned on Daily KOS. There are entire forums set up to criticize my cartoons, while individual toons appear regularly in a wide variety of pro conservative forums.

I did not know any of that until today. The interconnectivity magic of the blogosphere goes on!

Others who came here for the first time via the Yost piece (bloggers or not), I'm interested in your reactions to the editorial and the blogs featured therein. Why did you come here? What do you think? Email me, tell me your story, it'll be painless, I promise.

(Message to the Nihilist in Golf Pants, I know you've been to Fraters Libertas before, no need to doctor up a phony email as yet another shameless publicity stunt to feed your mad craving for power.)
Land Of Empty Time

People often ask why Minnesota seems to be such a hotbed of blogging. In addition to the Northern Alliance of Bloggers, there a number of other high-quality blogs based in the North Star State. Various theories have been offered to explain the phenomena.

Our own Saint Paul believes that it's due in large part to the mediocre writing talent (with a few notable exceptions) and overt political biases of the local media, in particular the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Others have claimed that it's because of the less-than-stellar weather, a theory similar to one often used to explain the number of successful rock bands that emerged from the Pacific Northwest during the heyday of grunge. The reasoning was that it was too crappy to do anything outside, so people were driven indoors where they honed their musical acumen.

Now we have another possibility posited by Mark Oppenheimer in a piece at National Review called Typing Alone (well worth reading). Oppenheimer believes that today's college students are trying to do too much with their time and are covering too many fields, rather than allowing for the kind of in-depth exploration often necessary to inspire true genius:

I return to the example of Stephen Fry at his typewriter. I don't know where he went to school, but wherever it was, I imagine that he pulled decent grades and fulfilled all his obligations while still having time for his odd and rather masochistic project. His school must have been -- or at least I fantasize that it was -- a place with dead time. Perhaps there was an expectation that students fill that dead time with hobbies, or with conversation, or with deep reading. Perhaps, of course, there were no such expectations at all, and most students drank away the dead time at the pub -- Fry might have been one such student, a compulsive typist and committed dipso -- but still, empty time makes us think. Boredom is a great builder of persons. It took London to make Charles Dickens, but it only took Minnesota to make Sinclair Lewis and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

UPDATE: More on Oppenheimer's piece from King at SCSUScholars.
It's The Same Old Song

Earlier this week in front of a large pro-abortion crowd, Hillary Clinton continued her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 by transparently appearing to reach out to pro-life voters while at the same time re-affirming her commitment to keep abortion legal. From The New York Times (registration required):

"We can all recognize that abortion in many ways represents a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women," Mrs. Clinton told the annual conference of the Family Planning Advocates of New York State.

In case anyone were to get the wrong impression from these words, Clinton's legislative director, Neera Tanden, helps to clarify Hillary's message:

"Our focus in the speech was to make sure that she still communicated that she was pro-choice - she doesn't want to undermine that - but she also thinks we can have some common ground among all sides and make abortion rare."

The only common ground Mrs. Clinton wants to share is that abortion should remain legal and that those who oppose it should learn to accept it. She's also said nothing new as we've been hearing this same language for years from the anti-life crowd. They steadfastly support the killing of unborn babies but try to soften that stance to woo some wishy-washy red state voters with the pledge to make it "rare". Hillary went so far as to call abortion "sad" and "tragic" in this instance but, in the end, it's the same old song. She's pro-abortion, period.

The question that needs to be asked of Mrs. Clinton is what other constitutional rights would she seriously describe as sad and tragic when they are exercised? Would the "legal but rare" abortion advocates be so kind as to list all of the other rights Americans enjoy that they feel should only rarely be acted upon?

Is it sad every time someone is protected against unreasonable search and seizure?

Is it tragic that close to 120,000,000 Americans exercised their right to vote in last November's Presidential election?

Should every citizen's right to a speedy and public trial be rare?

Sad and tragic are words used to describe undesirable and unpleasant events, like abortion. God given rights are things people should proudly champion and promote rather than publicly hoping that they occur only in rare instances.

Hillary isn't seeking common ground here. She's seeking common votes with a common message about the continued legalization of common murder.
How Cold Is It?

Editorial cartoonist Steve Kelley from the New Orleans Times-Picayune casts a cold eye on Minnesota's weather and sports heroes.

(via Greg Wallace, at What Attitude Problem?)
Going To The Dogs

With the State of Minnesota once again considering expanding legalized gambling as a way to bring in more revenue, Gary Larson's look back at the heavily politicized, ill-fated effort to open a casino at a dog track in Hudson, Wisconsin could not be more timely. Republicans pushing for government endorsement of an activity that many consider immoral? Democrats colluding with powerful interest groups to screw poor minorities? And we wonder why people are just a little cynical about politics?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Asked And Answered

One of the best things about blogging is the connections you make. A couple of years ago, if I had questions about an economic matter, I'd be left to my own devices. Now I simply ask King. And boy, does he answer.

Smells Like Communist Spirit

Upon recently reviewing a back issue of GQ magazine, the one with Lindsey Lohan airing her lower abdomen on the cover (unfortunately, it cannot be found online), I came across a paragraph of some relevance to our friend Mike Nelson. It was embedded in a review of the Che Guevara romantic buddy road trip epic, The Motorcycle Diaries:

"Valorizing a bloodthirsty, ego-tripping chowder head like Guevara is another story, and in my book, he's already gotten exactly the big-screen tribute he deserves. That would be the 1969 production of 'Che!', a legendarily misbegotten attempt to make a buck off the counterculture, which starred everybody's favorite hepcat, Omar Sharif, as [Che] and, better still, Jack Palance as Fidel Castro. How the crew at Mystery Science Theater 3000 missed getting their mitts on this one beats me."

According to IMDB, it's all true. And they provide this additional fun fact about Che!:

The film was seen as so offensive in Chile and Argentina that Molotovcocktails were reportedly thrown at the screen in some cinemas.

What better endorsement could there be for a film worthy of Mike Nelson's consideration? Given the swelling market for young, hip, Conservative social commentary, a DVD of a MST3K rendering of this movie could be the biggest hit since Rush Limbaugh's tie collection. Though it might provide less laughter.

Here's hoping Mike has an interest in pursuing this. But, if he passes and the revolution is not satirized, we can console ourselves that it will at least be odorized and atomized.

UPDATE: Mike Nelson responds:

I don't know how I missed this film. I guess I'll have to start reading Lindsay Lohan-dotted magazines to keep up. By the way, I like the detail about molotovs, and the fact that some Chileans and Argentinians go prepared with them just in case the movie is that bad.

Infinite Monkey James Phillips responds:

Okay, I hesitate to say that after being mocked on "F.L." many, many months ago for at one time owning more than one "Members Only" jacket, but I have three or four Rush Limbaugh ties and they always get me compliments (having met me, you can understand that would be a rare occurrence), and never, NEVER, provoke laughter. Geez.

We of course meant no offense to James and his sartorial choices. But it speaks volumes that he fails to mention any compliments he's received due to his wearing Che cologne.
As Heard on the Radio

Today in the Pioneer Press Mark Yost publishes his editorial based on the interview he conducted with us LIVE on the air last Saturday afternoon during the Northern Alliance Radio Network broadcast (on AM1280, the Patriot and streaming continuously here). The bridging of the gap between new media and old is now complete and we look forward to a bright new future of cooperation and mutual respect. Or more withering social criticism and irresponsible hatchet jobs, depending on our moods.

Two quibbles on Yost's overall fine effort. First, Keegan's is in NE Minneapolis, not North Minneapolis. Mark being, a recently transplanted Brooklynite (and I don't mean Park or Center), shouldn't necessarily be held to account for minor geographical discrepancies. (But, my god man, where were your editors!) And we like Mark and would hate to see him suffer the fate of Russell Shimooka, the former KARE-11 sports anchor who was chased out of town a few years back by citizens waving pitchforks and torches, all because he couldn't pronounce the word Wayzata properly.

Secondly, all things considered, I'd prefer not to have the Fraters Libertas audience referred to in the same paragraph that contains the words "child molesters." That just doesn't strike me as good for business.

Thanks again to Mark and we hope to have him back on NARN someday to cover other relevant issues. Assuming something relevant emerges from the news other than blogging, that is.

THE ELDER ADDS: Doug from Bogus Gold has more on Yost's piece and the future of newspapers.
Mama, Me Not

After enjoying the fine company (but not the ungodly bar and food bill I rang up) of several local bloggers, including the proprietor of centerfeud.com, Doug from Bogusgold, a chat with Lileks about perfumed body sprays and Sisyphus from the Nihilist In Golf Pants (I'll ignore the fact that Scott Johnson referred to me as "Jamie" at one point) the Doubtlessette and I headed downtown to take in Mama Mia at the Orpheum theatre.

I had high hopes for this performance. I have no idea why. But I guess I thought, I like Abba and you know, people are like, saying good stuff about it, so it must be good. Which is another way of saying I didn't think at all.

Within 10 minutes I knew I was in for a long evening. This was supposed to be a comedy, but there was nary a laugh to be found. The humor was of the Sex-in- the-City-Bridget-Jones-Diary vein of obvious clich├ęs and ridiculous double entendres. I would guess that one out of two bits was a fellatio joke, including one where a cast member was trying to inflate an air mattress. After several unsuccessful attempts, one of the other cast members quips "You're supposed to blow, not suck."

Hilarious.

Which is not to say that people weren't laughing, because they were, although they tended to be mainly female attendees--the kind of people who think Sex in the City is witty and cutting edge and Bridget Jones' Diary is clever. I also think that a kind of Groupthink takes over people in a situation like this where it's Saturday night, they've spent a lot of money on tickets, they're dressed up, they've heard good things from their friends and they are predisposed to liking what they came to see. Regardless.

But what of the singing? It was average at best, grating at worst. Simon Crowell of American Idol has often said that there is a big difference in the singing style of Broadway and pop singers and that if you are trained in the former you will not be successful in the latter. I now know exactly what he means. Broadway singers want to extract every dramatic ounce out of a song at the expense of the melody and with Abba it's all about the melodies.

The show also seemed confused about whether or not the entire thing was supposed to be ironic or not. Several songs were sung poorly on purpose (at least I think they were, it was hard to tell) apparently for comedic reasons which were not entertaining in the least.

I also recognized another social phenomenon particular to performances in hip, urban areas. It is the Knowing Laugh, the laugh that announces to the rest of the audience that I Get It, which usually has no relationship whatsoever to whether or not something is actually funny. It is commonly found in places like the Uptown Theatre, where Saint Paul and I have suffered through several very un-funny movies surrounded by people who read the positive review in the City Pages and were ready to let everyone know how they too got it.

One of many such examples in Mama Mia was this clunker of an exchange between a middle-aged woman and a horny, younger man after he has come on to her:

Woman: Why I'm old enough to be your mother!
Man: Then call me Oedipus!

Oh wait, I get it, Oedipus because he like wanted to have sex with his mother! Yes! I went to college! I'm smart! I listen to NPR! I GET IT!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Pay To Play

Should a photo of Hugh Hewitt that could be used for a little good natured ribbing see the light of day? That's the question that we posed on Friday. The answer will come in the form of donations, which will be put towards a very good cause.

At this point, the pro-exposure side is holding a narrow twelve dollar lead over those wishing to protect Hugh's dignity. Hugh's flunkies and toadies are trying to rally support to the his side, and the outcome is very much in doubt.

Remember, if you want the afflict the Dockers-clad comfortable, donate here:


On the other hand, if you wish to protect the powerful shock jock you can do so here:



There is a cost involved in securing the photo, but all monies collected above and beyond that will go directly to the Misericordia Orphanage.
Emote or Die

The issue of media bias is a multi-faceted one and the litany of indications I have not the inspiration to compose at this time. But one of the more obvious, most justifiable forms is also one of the most damaging to a newspaper's reputation and standing among its readers. That is, the use of an opinion column for a non-political beat to advocate for partisan political positions.

A text book example of this comes from the Pioneer Press's theater critic, Dominic Papatola. On Sunday he reviewed the Guthrie Theater's presentation of "Oedipus," which included this petulant nip:

For those who were bummed out by Thursday's inauguration, the political metaphor in "Oedipus" is clear and comforting: A leader so sure of himself that he won't listen to good advice and common sense is finally hoisted on the petard of his own hubris.

The failure of the American President (and by logical extension, the USA), is a "comforting" thought"? I think we can divine from that comment that Papatola was indeed "bummed out" by the inauguration of GW Bush. So much so, he returns to this theme for his column's conclusion:

Is Oedipus' destiny avoidable? Sophocles doesn't think so, but just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes many voices to keep a family or a community or a country proceeding in the correct direction. That was true long before Oedipus' tussle with fate and remains so long after. This telling of the tale amply highlights the idea that we ignore those voices at our peril.

Yes, the oncoming peril of our nation, due to the President's "hubris." This profound, seering political analysis brought to you on page 13 of the Entertainment section, right next to the Isaac Asimov Super Quiz and the continuing travails of Ziggy.

To be fair, Papatola is writing an opinion column. He's been hired to provide a point-of-view and to be creative in his writing. Which makes the seeping of partisan politics into his prose, arguably, justifiable. But, even so, it's no less alienating to the reader. At least to those who are genuinely curious about the Guthrie's interpretation of a literary classic and who don't happen to agree with Papatola's facile political observations. This is where you'd hope an editor, with some business perspective and respect for an ideological diverse circulation, would intervene with his blue pencil and clean it up, for the benefit of all.

With the offending paragraphs included, all it does is communicate that the reviewer (and by extension the Pioneer Press) and the liberal elite establishment are all on the same team here. They "get it" about Bush and can feel free to trade their snarky little barbs anywhere they see fit. And those who don't get it, well, they're not reading theater reviews anyway. And if they are, who cares?

This issue would have exorcised me much more in the past, back when the Pioneer Press also employed a TV critic and a music critic prone to ad hominem political assaults in virtually every column they'd write. But with their wise removal, comes a greater degree of slack cutting for the Pioneer Press. They've made great strides toward balance, I appreciate it, and I can now view Papatola more as an anachronistic scolding relic of "hubris," rather than the continuing voice of the bias status quo.

Plus, I probably can't refute Papatola anymore than one of his interview subjects did in a different article, also appearing on Sunday. Excerpts (noncontiguous):

Social and political criticism among artists is back in vogue today. A number of actors and musicians [ed. note - and theater critics] became active in the 2004 presidential campaign, taking an ideological stand that alienated some of their fans.

Ironically, [Brian] Dennehy has about as much tolerance for that as he does for being mistaken for Brian Keith.

"To be perfectly honest, the minute an actor opens his mouth and somebody else's lines don't come out, I head for the door," he said. "Actors are the last people - I guess rock 'n' roll stars might be even worse - who should be talking about politics."

"I have no problem with people doing whatever they want to do politically," he said. "But, with a couple of exceptions, I'm not tremendously impressed by the level of debate that I hear from these people. It seems like received wisdom rather than something they've thought out themselves. P. Diddy? I can do without his political analysis for the rest of my life."


One can only hope Papatola was actually listening as he scribbled that quote down. Because I'm sure there are a lot of Pioneer Press readers who can do without Dominic "P. Diddy" Papatola's political analysis for the rest of their lives.

UPDATE: Lileks notes the Guthrie was directly marketing their Oedipus as a modern day political allegory. It seems P. Diddy Papatola didn't do as much creative thinking as I gave him credit for.

Lileks's observations on the mindset of the Guthrie marketing people applies equally as well to activist theater reviewers and media entities.

I don't think it occurred to the people who cooked up this campaign that it might not give everyone the same self-satisfied smirk it provided to the author of the copy. I think this one got anointed with groupthink lubricant and slid unhindered down the chute. I think they'd honestly be surprised to find that anyone objected. No, amend that: anyone who mattered.

This is why companies of all sorts should keep one Republican on staff, perhaps behind glass, with a small hammer on a chain nearby in case of emergency. Run this stuff past the old dinosaur now and then. Just for fun. Could help. Never know.

Back When They Knew Their Place

Reader (and writer) Gary Larson points out this little nugget from a tribute to the late Sen. Everett McKinley Dirksen, that appeared in the Metro Section of Friday's Star Tribune:

Despite being a prominent and committed Republican, Dirksen believed in civility and compromise, pragmatism rather than ideology. He possessed "the rare but all-important ability to disagree without being disagreeable," as biographer Byron Hulsey put it.

Gary adds:

"Despite?" Let's see now, "Rs" are mean, uncivil, uncompromising slobs? Yeah, that's it! Just like they taught us in J-school. Thanks, staff writer Dick Parker of Strib, for revealing your partisan politics--and in NEWS copy, yet.

More than bias, this is just the latest example of the yearning for the "good old days" of politics in Minnesota. Days when the Republicans kept their heads down, politely and civilly caved on most issues, and "pragmatically" accepted "compromises" that usually consisted of the DFL getting 90% of what they wanted with an occasional bone thrown towards the Republicans as a sop.

Not surprisingly, the DFL wishes to return to these halcyon political days of yore when things were so much more "civil" (meaning they got their way). I guess it should not come as a shock to anyone that Star Tribune reporters feel the same way.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Twenty-Four Hour Party People

Well, at least four hour party people. Last night's Minnesota Organization of Bloggers shindig at Keegan's was, as Saint Paul has already noted, a smashing success. I'm not going to go into detail, as Doug, Mitch, Kathy, David, and Cathy have already provided comprehensive recaps. What I am going to do is update the listing of MOB blogs here at Fraters. Please let me know if I missed anyone.
MOB Post Script

Thanks to all who came out to the Keegan's Conference on Blogging and Journalism last night. A smashing success it was. Despite inclement weather and the normal winter viruses ravaging the upper Midwest, the body count of bloggers, blog readers, and the morbidly curious is estimated into the triple digits. The women were uniformly enchanting (especially those clothed in pajamas and/or part time employees of Burnsville steakhouses or local alternative weeklies or of the MN State Senate or aspiring saints from Edina) and the men full of good cheer and good conversation (conditions predicated by being full of Guinness, Harps, and/or Smithwicks, no doubt).

Last night I tracked down and talked to nearly all of those I targeted in advance, and met dozens of new, intriguing people, running new, intriguing blogs of their own (new MOB links to be added to the blog roll of FL soon). It was a terrific night, a description I've not seen contradicted by any of the bloggers already reporting from the scene. And apologies for this late, and truncated report. But as co-hosts we felt the need to go full out with our hosting duties (drinking, glad handing, drinking, back slapping, drinking) for the entirety of the affair. Plus a few hours before, and a few hours after. And it didn't end until the wee small hours when a few of the stalwarts attempted a gang blog conversion of Mitch Berg to the one, true church. Perhaps the only mission not accomplished all night.

In any regard, we're just now emerging from the fog. A few brain cells may have been sacrificed, but the memories, no, they can't take them away from us. It was the best MOB event yet, and we're already looking forward to the next - tentatively planned for some sultry Minneapolis summer night. Stay tuned.

Apparently there was kind of a B-list blogging event being held yesterday as well. Out in Harvard Yard, something called the Berkman Conference of Blogging and Journalism. Not exactly sure what was happening there, but according to Jeff Jarvis, they didn't have as much fun as we. A couple of highlights (as it were) featuring local boys made good:

I made a crack about Hinderaker as a Republican talking about hiring and diversity and he didn't crack a smile.

A reaction affectionally known around the NARN studio as the Hinderaker Humor Uncertainty Principle.

Jay [Rosen] at the close says Bill Buzenberg of Minn. Public Radio raised a most important point when he said his reporters are learning that the audience knows things.

We know things! Who knew? Is that anything close to "knowing stuff"? I think so. But it's just too bad MPR had to go all the way to Boston to find that out. Hopefully we'll see them at the next MOB event. But I want to make a good impression, so please, everybody, until further notice, don't forget things.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Behind the Music on the Northern Alliance

Today on the Northern Alliance Radio Network (12 - 3 PM, locally on AM1280 the Patriot, and on the Web here.)

Hour 1: The always exciting Week in Review. All your favorite NARN personalities, desperately vying for mic time. Alas, John Hinderaker has been summoned to Harvard for expert testimony and Chad the Elder is sleeping one off, so at most there will be five of us in studio. Unfortunately that means we will not be able to attempt breaking the Guiness World Record for the number of talk show hosts talking at once. (But we still have a shot at the record for Most Talk Show Hosts Stuffed in the AM1280 Bathroom at Once, stay tuned).

Hour 2: The great debate on school choice. Distinguished Prof. King Banaian leads a discussion on this contentious issue, which will also include Elizabeth Mische of the Partnership for Choice in Education and Craig Westover independent contractor extraordinaire of Pioneer Press. We especially encourage advocates of the government school status quo to call in, or this debate could transform into a hallelujah chorus in short order. Yes, I think all of us are on the side of freedom for this one.

Hour 3: The epic meeting of the medias on the battleground of the public airwaves and in the public consciousness. Yes, its MSM standard bearer Mark Yost of the Pioneer Press spending an hour in the wolves' lair of blogging and talk radio. And we're thrilled to announce that this will be an historic occasion. For the first time in the long, august history of journalism, an intrepid editorialist will be practicing his craft LIVE ON THE AIR!!!

Yes, Mark is interested in finding out more about this whole blogging phenomena and he wants to interview the Fraters Libertas and the rest of the NARN crew for an article to appear in the pages of the Pioneer Press. And it will all be happening LIVE ON THE AIR!!!!

For those unaware, Mark Yost is a recent (and very welcome) addition to the Pioneer Press editorial board. Formerly of the Wall Street Journal, still occasionally writing for the New York Times, and regularly featured in the pages of the J Peterman catalog. Seriously, he is, for his prose stylings (and not for his modeling of the urban sombrero).

Tune in and see how a true, unbiased master practices the sacred craft of journalism - on us. It should all be riveting stuff, particularly by the third segment, at which time I predict Yost will advance the interview by saying "... and then you descended into a cycle of booze, wild women in pajamas, and mindless hedonism ..."

At which point I'll interrupt and say. "Actually Mark, that doesn't start until tonight..."

Yes! Don't forget to attend the 3rd quasi bi-annual meeting of the MN Organization of Bloggers tonight at Keegan's Pub. The action starts at 5 PM. Remember, according to the organization bylaws, there is absolutely no criteria for membership in the MOB. You don't need to write a blog, you don't need to read blogs, hell you don't even have to be able to read. Except for the handwriting on the wall, that is. And that says the best party in town will be at Keegan's tonight. Be there to meet and greet and drink and eat and chat it up with some of the most intelligent, entertaining, and gregarious people in town. And remember, some of those will be wild women in pajamas.

Don't you dare miss it, tonight starting at 5 PM Keegan's, it's going to be out of control!!

Friday, January 21, 2005

Lucifer Loves The Longhorns

From the Canadian Press (via Yahoo! News):

President George W. Bush's "Hook'em, Horns" salute got lost in translation in Norway, where shocked people interpreted his family's hand gesture during his inauguration as a salute to Satan.

Bush, a former Texas governor, and his family made the sign to greet the Longhorn marching band as it passed during the inaugural parade through Washington during Thursday's festivities, Norway's largest newspaper, Verdens Gang, explained to its readers.


More proof of Norwegian irrationality. Or should I say...Norwegianity?
Can You Put A Price On A Man's Dignity?

We have recently been advised of the existence of a photo that potentially could prove to be embarrassing for a certain nationally syndicated talk radio host. Actually, there's no doubt about whether this picture could be used to mock and ridicule the "Voice of Reason In The West." It is fodder for days and days of needling. And no, it's not a shot of Hugh and James playing dress up.

Like all good things in life, there is a price to be paid to acquire the rights to this precious prize. And as much as we would like to take advantage of this opportunity, the price was a bit too rich for our blood. At first we considered simply asking for reader contributions to collect the bounty required to free up this tantalizing treasure.

But then we realized that this was could be more than just a chance to humiliate Hugh. We could turn this into an even greater good. And so, we are going to ask for donations to fund the releasing of the photo. But we're not going to say exactly how much we need. So anything that we collect over the required amount will be donated to the Misericordia Orphanage.

And, to prove just how fair and balanced we really are, we're going to give Hugh (and his lackeys, cronies, and hangers on) a chance to avoid such unwanted exposure. Because we're also going to accept donations to keep the file sealed. And if those donations end up totaling more than the ones to release the photo, it will not see the light of day. All monies collected would then go to the orphanage. Talk about a win/win.

So if you want to have a good larf at Hugh's expense please donate here:

On the other hand, if you believe that Hugh's suffered enough already, and needs to be coddled like some kind of dandy mama's boy you can give here:


The little drama will run until next Wednesday, and we will provide daily updates of the total for each side.
The Hardest Duties In This Cause

To the best of my knowledge the following e-mails are authentic. The names have been changed to initials at the request of the person who passed them on. The first is from a man who has a son serving in Iraq:

One of the reserve units assigned to the 55th is the 427th Transportation Company (Norristown, PA), to which is assigned SPC S.R.H. from Walkersville, Maryland. SRH's principal function is involved in convoy escort, most currently operating the 50 cal. machine gun mounted on top of an armored humvee.

He's been doing this almost continuously since he got back to Iraq the week before
Christmas with only 1 or 2 short breaks since. The convoys don't get much media coverage except when a roadside IED or MVIED is successful, but they routinely draw fire on a daily basis. The chaplain is correct; the transport of the ballot boxes is critical and will require all the skill and diligence our troops have at their disposal to execute this vital mission. This will be one of their toughest missions yet in a continuum of tough missions all over the harsh landscape of Iraq. Please pass this around on behalf of our troops, and particularly SRH.


Here's the note from the chaplain, which is a request for prayers for those undertaking a very difficult duty:

SPECIAL REQUEST FROM L.S., SERVING AS A CHAPLAIN WITH U.S. ARMY UNIT IN IRAQ

As a transportation battalion, my unit will be delivering the voting machines and the ballots to villages and cities throughout Iraq during the upcoming elections. (January 30/31) Our convoys are prime targets for the insurgents because they do not want the equipment to arrive at the polling stations nor do they want the local Iraqi citizens to have the chance to vote; timely delivery must occur so that the elections occur.

Historically, the previous totalitarian regime would not allow individual citizens to vote. Democracy will not be realized in Iraq if intelligent and competent officials are not elected to those strategic leadership positions within the emerging government; freedom will not have an opportunity to ring throughout this country if the voting process fails.

My soldiers are at the nerve center of the logistic operation to deliver the voting machines and election ballots. They will be driving to and entering the arena of the enemy. This is not a game for them it is a historical mission that is extremely dangerous. No voting machines or ballots. No elections. Your support is needed to give democracy a chance in this war torn country.

Pop Off Benanav

In what is perhaps the greatest signal yet the Pioneer Press editorial board is reaching some degree of ideological balance and sanity, they were excoriated yesterday by 4th Ward City Councilman Jay Benanav. He goes ballistic over an unsigned institutional voice editorial from January 18 with the passion of a man scorned. The greatest hits:

Your editorial (Jan. 18) in which you blame City Council President Kathy Lantry and her "cohorts" for the departure of Dr. Catherine Verfaillie, a renowned stem cell researcher, is in one word: ludicrous.

Definitions of ludicrous: 1 : amusing or laughable through obvious absurdity, incongruity, exaggeration, or eccentricity. 2 : meriting derisive laughter or scorn as absurdly inept, false, or foolish.

Strong words. But at least Benanav can still laugh about it. At least in the first paragraph of his letter. Things degenerate from there:

It's clear that the Pioneer Press has decided to simply make up "facts" as you go along in your efforts to assist [Mayor Randy] Kelly in running and hiding from his record.

Sour grapes full disclosure: Benanav lost to Kelly in the 2001 mayoral race. It appears he hasn't quite gotten over it yet.

What's at issue here is whether some at the Pioneer Press are mature enough to recognize the importance of the facts and report them accurately rather than blame the City Council for all the problems, or are you simply content to sit in your shiny offices and ignore the real issues that face St. Paul?

Hoo-haa! Challenging their maturity, their professional integrity, and the .... shininess of their offices - it's starting to get personal. But I think it's a low blow going after Glenda Holste just because she's known to go through three cans of Pledge per week polishing the wood in her office to a high sheen. Or was he referring to Deborah Locke's reputed use of a stainless steel office chair, desk, and credenza? It's hard to say.

But let's hope it doesn't end here. For the good of the city, the entrenched DFL establishment in St. Paul can use some close scrutiny and criticism. And the local paper's editorial board is the perfect instrument to provide it.

I believe it was the Robert Redford homicidal maniac mountain man epic (the Ted Kacyzinski Story? No!) 'Jeremiah Johnson' which included the line (paraphrasing from memory): "a tribe's greatness is measured by how great its enemies be."

For the Pioneer Press to have an enemy in the City Council? Well, that's not a bad start. But win they must, lest their legacy be eternally haunted by this.
The Right Stuff

An update from an undisclosed location in the Arizona desert:

Rocket Team Vatsaas is pleased to announce than Astronaut Ralphie has safely arrived at the super-secret Project Red Ryder HQ in sunny Arizona. As can be seen from the photograph, Ralphie has been fitted with an Ego-Adaptive helmet, as all attempts at self-deprecation therapy have failed.

Unfortunately for Ralphie, his Ego-Adaptive Helmet is too big to fit into the Corinthian leather-lined custom-built astronaut cabin (complete with mini-bar and wireless internet access, and big screen TV broadcasting the 24-hr figure skating channel), so Ralphie will be riding instead in the main parachute compartment of the launch vehicle. This means that Ralphie will have to sky-dive for the final leg of the descent, a whopping 1,000 feet above the desert surface! With luck, his parachute will open as planned, sparing him a high speed plummet to the cactus strewn landscape.

We have also received positive news from our rocket motor fabricator that our specially designed solid fuel power-plant will be ready on time. We are confident there will be not NASA style delays for Project Red Ryder.


Over the next five weeks Ralphie will face a regimen of grueling mental and physical training as he prepares for his late-February launch. Does he have what it takes to boldly go where no bobble head has gone before? Will his Dockers remain wrinkle free in zero gravity? Will Hugh broadcast live from the launch site as has been rumored? Stay tuned for regular updates on the race to prepare Ralphie for space. The countdown's on.
Return of the Wog

Paul from Wog's Blog makes a welcome return to the local blogging scene after an extended absence. Last time I saw him was at the State Fair in August during a NARN broadcast and he doing was an uproarious on-air impression of John Kerry. Or was that John Wayne? Either way, it was highly entertaining.

Over the past few months Paul has been through a lot of, shall we say, adversity. But his writing remains as honest and his spirit as indomitable as ever. Check him out and let's hope the man is on the road to recovery and we see more regular commentary from him in the future.

Although I'm sure he's an asset to any party, if he skips MOB-apalooza at Keegan's (this Saturday, starting at 5 PM), under the circumstances, it will be considered an excused absence.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

the "F-dash-dash-dash-dash-dash-dash" word

Why does the Left feel such a visceral hatred for George W. Bush? Look no further than today's Inaugural Address for the answer. It isn't because he's a unilateralist cowboy or that he believes in God and isn't afraid to say so. And it's not because of the "lies about WMD" or because he didn't sign the Kyoto Treaty.

No, it's all about one word. The F word. I imagine that your average Lefty would have been apoplectic if they actually listened to today's speech and heard Dubya drop the F-bomb twenty-seven times.

You see, as much as they would seek to deny it, FREEDOM is a dirty word to the Left. Oh sure, they like to spout off about how they're all for it, but when it comes down to the heart of the matter, most of their core beliefs contradict it. Can someone please tell me what anyone on the Left has done to advance the cause of freedom in the last thirty-five years?

Were they really interested in the freedom of the people of Vietnam? Or Laos or Cambodia? No. They were more interested in damaging the United States than actually helping those who would fall under the boot heel of communism in Southeast Asia.

What about the freedom of people behind the Iron Curtain? What did the Left's moral relativism during the Cold War do for them? Nada. Again, it wasn't about spreading freedom to oppressed people, it was about reflexively opposing the United States.

The same could be said for the people of Nicaragua and El Salvador. Or the Kuwaitis.

Today, it's the fate of the Afghanis and the Iraqis whom the Left pretends to be concerned about. But how much Leftist outrage did you hear about Afghanistan under the Taliban? And, other then the grossly exaggerated suffering that was attributed to sanctions, did you ever hear a peep from the Left about the brutal suppression of the Iraqi people under Saddam?

What of the Iranians? The North Koreans? The Left loves to kiss Castro's ass and strut around in their Che Chic outfits, but do they care about real freedom for the Cuban people? Hell, for that matter does anyone honestly believe that most Lefties would give a damn about the Palestinians if their cause wasn't a tool to use against Israel (and thus indirectly the United States)?

I'm not saying that Bush's crusade for freedom is based solely on the virtue of helping others attain what we so greatly cherish. There is obviously an American self-interest in seeing the world become more free (the rarity of democracies going to war and all that). But, the fact of the matter is that, whatever his motivations may be, George W. Bush has done more to advance the cause of freedom in the world than any president since Ronald Reagan. And like Reagan, the Left vilifies him for it.

And it's more than just the international front. While Bush's record is far from perfect on domestic matters, his push for tax cuts, reform of Social Security, and creating an "ownership" society are all about freedom. Freedom to keep more of your money. Freedom to invest for your retirement. Freedom to choose your health care options.

What do we get from the Left? Restrictions on what we can eat. Where we can smoke (if we're even allowed to smoke at all). Where we can live. What kind of car we can drive. Where are education tax dollars can be used. What we can say on college campuses. The list could go on and on.

The bottom line is that the Left despises George W. Bush because of his embrace of the one word that they can't abide:

Freedom
Boxer Doesn't Like Her

...but we do. Condi Rice crushes the competition in a survey of conservative bloggers asking whom we prefer to see on the Republican ticket for President in 2008.

Sorry Governor, but it looks like you need to do some national profile-raising in a hurry. For the record, I voted for you (and might have been the only one).
A Democratic Tradition

Today, January 20, the Constitutionally mandated occasion of the inauguration of the democratically elected President of the United States. This news update from Washington DC:

Not since Richard Nixon paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue in 1973 has a presidential Inauguration drawn so many protesters -- and last time, people were out to protest the Vietnam War.

Demonstrators turned out in droves on Saturday -- a miserably gray and drizzly day, with temperatures hovering in the mid-30s -- to protest the Inauguration of President George W. Bush,

... there was a steady stream of heckling of Bush and Cheney as they moved along the broad boulevard toward the White House. And it wasn't entirely without incident. There were a few minor altercations between protesters and police. The AP reported that in one incident, impatient protesters who wanted to get closer to the parade route slashed tires on cars before getting arrested.

The hatred was palpable. At one particularly dark moment, a protester lobbed an egg at the presidential limo. Bush remained safely inside until the final block before reaching his new home. (In the past, Bush's father and even Bill Clinton walked large stretches of the parade route, but not so during this cold and contentious day.)

During Bush's swearing-in, officers briefly detained several thousand protesters, some who had gathered near the Justice Department for a National Organization for Women rally and others who had marched with filmmaker Michael Moore from the city's Dupont Circle neighborhood. The group was ultimately allowed to proceed down to the parade route, and a crisis was averted.

The protesters at Freedom Plaza hissed, howled, booed and jeered at President Bush as his limousine rolled by at around 3:30 p.m. EST. The cacophony was deafening -- and it was no doubt heard by the President and first lady Laura Bush.

"Of course, we're ashamed that Bush has decided to be a 'uniter' by uniting people against him," [a protester] continued. "They all chose to come out in the freezing rain -- even the weather couldn't stop these people."


Before anyone makes the mistake of taking any of this righteous dissent seriously, note the above was taken from a Salon article, dateline January 20, 2001.

Yes, before anyone invaded Iraq or anyone was "lying" about WMDs (at least before any Republicans were "lying" about them), before the civil rights of Americans were systematically stripped away by AshKKKroft, the usual suspects were out with their palpable hate, their cacophony of booing and jeering and hissing (hissing!), and their indiscriminate violence.

No, it wasn't about their outrage over Bush's performance as President back then. Instead we got this litany of catastrophic complaints:

They chanted and they chanted. "We won't go back, send Bush back." "U.S. Navy out of Vieques." "Free Mumia." "We want Bush out of D.C." "Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Bush and Cheney go away!" "Georgie go home, Georgie go home." "You're not our president." And so on. Sadly, due to strict regulations set forth by the feds and Washington police, the oversize puppets that had lent a sense of street theater to other protests during the past year were largely absent this time around.

(Note, with the sadness expressed over the absence of oversized puppets, that paragraph's author sets the new lower limit for the feeling of sorrow).

The years roll by, the world changes, most of us grow older and wiser. But the hatred of the Left and their out of power temper tantrums remain the same. Here's looking forward to a reprise of it all on January 20, 2009. God Bless America!
And If A Little Is Good For You...

Huge news today from the New England Journal of Medicine touting the memory benefits of booze consumption.

It seems that the letter-writing campaign we started last year to ask the Journal to look at some of the obvious benefits to hooch has paid off (those soft money donations by Keegan's didn't hurt either).

Here is how the esteemed doctors put it: low-to-moderate consumption of alcohol was associated with better cognition both cross-sectionally and over time in a study that involved more than 11,000 U.S. nurses. Consumption of 1.0 to 14.9 g of alcohol per day, or about one drink per day or less...

Booze and nurses...that oughtta get our google ads going.

The thing I find interesting is that as anyone who has any experience with polls or questionnaires of any kind will tell you, people ALWAYS fudge their answers to make themselves appear more intelligent, worldly, noble (contrary to the ridiculous human resources surveys, people take new jobs for the money!) and yes sober.

I mean, how many people who are real drinkers honestly answer a question like "How many alcoholic beverages do you have in a day?" It's much like when a cop pulls you over and asks you how many you have had: you always say one or two.

So if these people said one drink a day was their average and the docs found a positive correlation (no Saint Paul, correlation is not causation) between that and improved memory, then what they are really saying is two to three drinks a day improves your memory. And two to three is what a moderate soak without a problem consumes a day.

We at Fraters would like to raise a toast (a Makers Mark Manhattan to be exact) to the New England Journal of Medicine for confirming what we have known for years.

Salud!
Subliminal Advertising

The dawning of the age of paid advertising on Fraters Libertas has been little more than a faint glimmer so far. As you may or may not have noticed, a Google Ads banner has been added to the left side of this fine Internet site. Not sure how much revenue it generates, not sure how it figures out how much we deserve, not sure if we deserve any revenue anyway. All I know is that Blog Ads wouldn't even return our calls, so with the competition we went. And Chad the Impaler, I mean the Elder, is in charge of all things administrative, and per usual, information is parceled out on a need to know basis. He tells me I'm lucky he only charges me $50 per month to post here (apparently JB Doubtless is being charged on a per letter basis, which explains his recent blogging frequency), so I've stopped asking prying questions entirely.

If the Google Ads can't enrich me, at least they can entertain me. If you've been paying attention, they've been that and more, so far. Somehow, brilliantly, diabolically, the products advertised are thematically consistent with the content of blog posts. In the first days of the ad banner's appearance, Elvis Presley memorabilia was featured, right after an Elvis Presley blog post. Then, after some Vikings-related prose, ads for Vikings memorabilia were featured (in retrospect, I think it was a good idea we didn't devote any vibrant, flowery descriptions to Randy Moss's pantomime antics). Then, after a couple of posts ripping the hell out of Al Franken, ads for defiantly Leftist web sites and memorabilia began to appear. (It seems the text reading logorithms still have some problems interpreting context.) And now, after the Elder's award winning post on shaving, as I write this, we have a whole slate of ads for Gillette razor blades. It's pure, subliminal genius! Either that or Chad has been bought and paid for by the Big Shaving interests. (Buyer beware when he starts waxing rhapsodically about the joys of Foamy and Aqua Velva.)

I must say it is a little intimidating to know that the cold eye of commerce is now monitoring my every utterance. Everything I write is now being evaluated for its exploitative value. My observations, my hopes, my dreams, my withering social commentary (written in my boxer shorts), my art, nothing more than a tool for filthy capitalists! None of whom are me!

Ah well, that's the world we live in. Better to get sucked in and gum up the works with your vital organs than rage against the machine, I always say. So blog on I will. And just because the use of certain words will no doubt spur a provocative advertising deluge, I will be unafraid to further explore the primary themes you've come to know and love on this site. Specifically:

Swedish bikini models

the collected film works of Ralph Macchio

black topical tattoo ointment

the legends of Tampa Bay Devil Ray baseball

lowfat breaded elk schnitzel

and of course ...

Swedish bikini models
Swedish bikini models
Swedish bikini models
Swedish bikini models

Keep tuning in for these topics and more. We (and our advertisers) thank you.

THE ELDER ADDS: While you're enjoying those topical and trendy Google ads folks, why not click on 'em a couple of times a day? Our advertisers (and our coin purses) thank you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Looks Like We've Made It!

Move over, Powerline. There's a new giant in town. Fraters Libertas hit the big time today by being prominently featured in a major newspaper opinion piece.

Today's on-line edition of the Dassel-Cokato Enterprise Dispatch features this:

There are several really good Minnesota blogs. Since I'm a conservative Republican I like to read not only, Powerline, but Captain's Quarters, Jay Reding, Shot in The Dark (also out of the Twin Cities,) Fraters Libertas (out of St. Paul,) and SCSU Scholars, (out of St. Cloud.)

Well...okay, by "prominently featured" I really meant to say "mentioned" and by "major newspaper" I meant to say "weekly community newspaper" and there's really no reason for the guys at Powerline to move over to anywhere as the bulk of the piece is really about them and by "opinion piece" I meant...no, wait, that part is true.

Any pub is good pub, though, right?
Resistance Is Futile

Mark e-mails:

The Statler and Waldorf dust-up aside, I have at last been knee-capped into submission by blogosphere.

For many, many weeks I have listened to David and Jordan tell me how, "cool the Fraters guys are."

How, "funny the Fraters guys are."

How, "wonderful and quirky the Fraters guys are." But I refused to believe it.

"Wait" sez I, "how can I trust these guys? What can we possibly have in common? They're bloggers."

But then I read a great piece of journalism (yes, journalism) on the subject of razors -- specifically razors that vibrate. I was sold (on the razor for sure, but more importantly I think, on the relevance of the Fraters boys). You have turned a blog-Grinch (more accurately one who openly ridiculed your Keegan's parties and the inside jokes) into one who now loves Big Brother. Just like Homer J I have the seen the secret club (the Stonecutters), and I want in.

Tell me what I must do -- I have no pride left.


No pride left, eh? Just the way we likes 'em. Unfortunately Mark, your timing couldn't be worse. The MOB has just been rechristened as the "No Marks Club." That's "No Marks"; we're allowed to have one.

Just funnin' ya boy. You are hereby drafted into the MOB Army and ordered to report for duty to Keegan's at 5pm this Saturday. By the way, if you're looking for quirky, he's your man. We'll stick to cool, funny, and wonderful.

Meanwhile Nathan asks:

I don't have a blog, I just read them. Does MOB have a troll division?

You bet we do Nathan. Actually it's more like a troll regiment at this point, but if we keep hitting our recruiting goals we'll be there soon. And this next MOB gathering at Keegan's is not limited to bloggers. Our loyal readers, fans, stalkers, and groupies are all invited to stop in and quaff a couple as well. The more, the merrier. This Saturday, January 22nd at 5pm. Be there. You know you want to.