Thursday, November 18, 2004

Behind the success of the Wal-Mart Colossus

As my wife is still required to take it easy, I have become the shopper in our house. Yesterday, I searched the local discount stores for some necessary household items. As is my wont, I wandered over to the sporting goods section to see what was there. In the process, I had an epiphany.

You ever wonder, to paraphrase General Patton, why Wal-Mart is kicking the hell out of ShopKo, Target, and K-Mart? Blind man could see it in a minute. Those store chains have completely abandoned the male market. They have plenty of silly, frilly items like jewelry, clothes, cosmetics, and purses in the shape of bustiers (no really -- I saw it with my own eyes). They have very few, if any, of manly items such as guns, tools, and car parts.

The local ShopKo doesn't sell guns. Neither does Target (despite their name and logo). K-Mart seems to consider it an afterthought: The gun counter is small, sparsely stocked, and to buy anything requires the assistance of a never-to-be-found clerk. I expect they will get rid of guns completely now that Sears has taken them over.

The local Wal-Marts, on the other hand, have large sporting goods sections that always have one or two employees behind the counter. The selection is adequate, although Wal-Mart has offended many gun owners with their refusal to sell handguns and their strict interpretation of Federal laws. Still, the sporting goods/outdoors section is well-stocked and roughly 3 to 4 times the size of those of other discount stores.

What's more, all the Super Wal-Marts seem to have the same design, with all the "man-friendly" departments -- sporting goods, automotive, hardware, home improvement -- located in the same corner of the store. Men are definitely not personae non grata here. And because the departments are staffed by male clerks who seem to know what they are talking about, rather than by man-hating single mothers who are on the job due to welfare reform, men naturally prefer to shop there.

The bottom line is that men spend money, too. ShopKo, Target, and K-Mart have decided to ignore some 50% of American consumers, so those consumers have gone to the one discount store that is friendly to them, and in the process have dragged their wives along with them. Wal-Mart sells guns (albeit imperfectly); the others gave up their guns to please whiny shopaholic women. It's obvious which has been the better strategy.

Of toilets and political agendas

I'm up early this morning, and not just due to the new baby. I stayed awake to inform all my reader(s) of the most pressing issue facing the new Republican Congress: Low-flush toilets.

Our new house is the second in six years. Thanks to a law passed by Congress in 1994, our first house included the newfangled water-saving devices. They required 1.9 gallons per flush, and could be expected to clog about once per month. Still, as long as the Zoober (our second daughter) didn't use a whole roll of paper after she went potty, we could remove the blockage ourselves. Often time-consuming, but inevitably successful.

During the past six years the manufacturers have "improved" their design. Our new house includes low-flush toilets that only use 1.6 gallons per flush, almost 20% less than before! Such progress comes at a price, however: We have been in our house less than three weeks, but have enjoyed about nine or ten clogs during that time. To put it bluntly, the pieces of shit don't work.

The builder anticipated this state of affairs, and during our walk-through, we were given a paper explaining the benefits of low-flush toilets. The paper cheerily stated that "even though it may occasionally require more than one flush, it still saves thousands of gallons of water annually." It went on to imply that if it doesn't work, it's because the homeowner is such an ignorant cretin.

So there you have it. It doesn't matter that you have to waste your valuable time and energy making your toilet work as it is supposed to anyway. You're saving "precious natural resources", so you had better thank your Betters in Congress for condescending to give you the opportunity to unclog your toilet on a daily basis. And be happy about it, plebe.

This is a perfect example of the Shut-Up-and-Eat-Your-Peas liberalism embodied by politicians such as John Kerry. I could understand if the state of Utah required all new houses to include such wretched devices; we are in a desert, after all. But under this law, contractors in both dry Salt Lake City and wet Seattle have to install the same toilets. Federalism be damned.

Forget Social Security reform. Forget tax cuts. Forget nominating judges who truly understand the terms "state's rights" and "interstate commerce" and "judicial restraint". I'll know the tide in Washington has really changed when I can legally purchase and install a toilet in my home that uses 3 gallons per flush.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

By the way, did you buy your ammo yet?

This blog supports National Ammo Day/Week.

I bought mine yesterday with some money I had squirreled away just for this purpose.

How about you?

Finally, life is returning to normal

Well, we are all moved in here, my wife and new daughter are home from the hospital, and I am slowly but surely getting everything organized.

Blogging will resume on a regular basis.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

On this day in military 1940 and others

On this day in military 1940. The Luftwaffe fire bombs the city of Coventry in retaliation for the bombing of Berlin. In 1945, the British get their revenge when they fire bomb Dresden.

On this day in militay 1942. The US Navy defeats the Japanese at the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Since neither side were able to claim victory during the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal a few days previously, the Japanese decided to sail back to Guadalcanal with a force of one battleship, two heavy cruisers, two light cruisers and eight destroyers during the night of 14-15 November and attempt yet again to land troops and bombard the arifield. After the first battle, the US Navy sent two battleships, Washington and South Dakota, and four destroyers to stop any Japanese fleets. During the ensuing battle, the South Dakota was damaged and all four US destroyers were either sunk or damaged, but the Washington came thru unscathed. The Japanese lost the battleship Kirishima (it had survived the first Naval Battle of Guadalcanal) and a destroyer and also all hope of dislodging the Americans from Guadalcanal.

On this day in military 1965. Elements of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavarly Divison (Airmobile) attack North Vietnamese forces in the Ia Drang valley. The ensuing battle was immortalized in the book and movie "We Were Soldiers Once" by Lt. Col. Harold G. Moore. A must-see movie on DVD if not for one of the deleted scenes where Mel Gibson's character (Lt. Col. Hal Moore) is talking to Westmoreland and McNamara after the engagement. McNamara and Westmoreland were congradulating Lt. Col. Moore about his unit's performance during the battle. Lt. Col. Moore reads to them a letter taken off the body of a fallen NVA soldier to his sweetheart back home. The letter states that they were there, fighting and suffering, to protect their country from the invading forces. Lt. Col. Moore tells McNamara and Westmoreland that if the North Vietnamese are motivated enough to leave their families and loved ones behind to suffer and fight the US forces in South Vietnam, they will never be able to defeat the North Vietnamese. More prophetic words were never spoken.

Asshole Very Fat and the Missing Millions

Now that the UN's Number One "Freedom Fighter", Yasser Arafat, is dead, it seems that the MSM is starting to ask the question that many have been asking (and being ignored) for ages: Where is all the PLO money that he skimmed for all those years? Of course, they couldn't ask that question while he was alive because that would have been "disrespectful" to a world leader, but now that he is dead, the MSM has suddenly "found religion" (Hallelujah Brother!) and is starting to report about the "monetary mismanagement" and "diversion of funds" that had been going on in the PLO under Arafat. Don't you just love it when the MSM suddenly starts to report about a "breaking news story" that most people have already known for many years? News Flash! This just in! Scientists have determined that water falling from the sky is called rain! We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Friday, November 12, 2004

On this day in military 1942 and 1944

On this day in military 1942. The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal starts. Fresh from their victory over the Japanese fleet at the Battle of Midway, US Marines landed on the island of Guadalcanal in August 1942 to capture an unfinished airfield and start the long campaign to defeat the Japanese. The US and Japanese naval forces had been fighting for control of the waters around Guadalcanal with no clear victor. The Japanese had organized a convoy of merchant vessels the night of 12-13 November carrying troops and supplies for the Japanese army still fighting on Guadalcanal. Two battleships, a light cruiser and nine destroyers escorted the convoy. The plan was to sail off-load the troops on Guadalcanal and then bombard the US controlled-airfield and surrounding areas.

Facing the Japanese fleet was an American fleet of two heavy cruisers (the San Francisco and Portland), three light cruisers (the Atlanta, Helena and Juneau) and eight destroyers. The US fleet wanted to "cross the T" where the only guns of the Japanese fleet that would be able to engage the American fleet would be those in front, but due to the "fog of war" and other organizational problems, instead of crossing the Japanese "T", both fleets headed toward each other on a collision course. The ensuing battle happened at point-blank ranges as both fleets passed thru each other. When the smoke cleared, the US had lost the light crusier Atlanta and four destroyers. The other cruisers (San Francisco, Portland, Helena and Juneau) were all heavily damaged. The Japanese were prevented from bombarding the airfield on Guadalcanal and they lost two destroyers and three others were heavily damaged. The Japanese battleship Hiei was also damaged enough that when daybreak came, it was still within range of aircraft based at Guadalcanal, who promptly used it for a day of daylight bombing practice until it sank.

It was also during this battle that one of the sadder incidents of war happened. As the US fleet was limping home, it was spotted by the Japanese submarine I-26. The submarine attacked the US fleet and sunk the light cruiser Juneau. On board the Juneau were the Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa. None of the brothers survived the sinking of the Juneau and Congress later passed a law (the Sullivan Law) barring brothers from serving on the same ship to prevent another Sullivan tragedy. In remembrance of the five brothers and their sacrifice, the Aegis guided missile destroyer, DDG-68 USS Sullivans, carries their name.

On this day in military 1944. The British finally sink the German battleship Tirpitz. Hitler had sent the Bismarck's sister ship north to Norway to attack Allied convoys headed to Russia. However, she mostly stayed holed up in Tromso Fjord, never really sailing out attack anything. The British tried to sink her using two-man mini submarines, but only succeeded in damaging the ship. Finally, 32 RAF Lancaster bombers, each one carrying a 12,000 pound bomb, attacked her and scored two hits, where upon, the ship capsized.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Asshole Very Fat

In case you have been living under a rock to avoid a smart bomb (like many terrorists these days), the leader of the PLO, Yasser Arafat, has died in a French hospital. Hallelujah! It would have been much better if he had died at the hands of an Iraeli firing squad or at the end of a hangman's noose, but dead is dead. Some may think that celebrating the death of such a famous "freedom fighter" is low-class and shows lack of "sensitivity", but hey, I celebrated when I was in Iraq and we heard that Usay and Qusay had been killed and I'll celebrate when Saddam is executed, when Osama meets Allah thanks to US smart bombs and when any other terrorist in the world is sent to burn in hell for his crimes. To paraphrase a saying from the 1800's, "the only good terrorist is a dead terrorist."

As for what this will mean for the Israelis and Palestinians, if this was the World Cup final soccer game, the score would be Israel 1 (Arafat own-goal), Palestinians 0, and things aren't looking good for the Palestinians right now. Israel has been awarded a free-kick at the Palestinian 11 meter line and the Palestinian goalkeeper, Arafat, has been given the permanent red-card for being a lying terrorist. In the same way that the islamic world celebrated when the Twin Towers came crashing down to show the West just what they thought of us, Israeli should declare a national day of celebration to show the Palestinians and the rest of the "Arab Street" just what they think of them.

Some think that the death of Asshole Very Fat will allow the Israelis and Palestinians to "negociate" a "resolution" to their conflict. Well, I think the Israelis are telling the Palistinians that they have their resolution "right here." Israel is in the driver's seat and, thanks to old Yasser, the best that the Palestinians can hope for is that when the Israelis bend them over, they don't get screwed too bad.

On this day in military 1918 and others

On this day in military 1918. World War I ends. The war ended on the 11th month, the 11th day at the 11th hour. Nine million soldiers lost their lives and 21 million were wounded. Five million civilians also died from starvation, diesese or exposure. The war was supposed to be the "war to end all wars", but because of the term of the peacy treaty that were imposed on the Germans by the victors (especially the French), Europe was guaranteed another "war to end all wars" in a few years time.

On this day in military 1921. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is dedicated. In every war, an unkonwn soldier is laid to rest at Arlington to remember the known dead of the war. However, because of advances in forensic medicine, Vietnam was the last war where an "unkown" soldier could be found. Let’s hope that the trend continues.

On this day in military 1940. To show the Japanese exactly how it could be done, as a prequel to Pearl Harbor, British torpedo bombers attack the Italian fleet at anchor at Taranto. The attack sinks three Italian battleships, the Littorio, the Duilio and the Conti di Cavour, but due to the shallowness of the harbor, two of the three were raised and back in action after six months. The after the attack, the remaining big ships of the Italian Royal Navy were moved north to Naples where they would pose a much smaller threat to British shipping and the Japanese also had a very good example how to execute the same attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor a year later.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

On this day in military 1775

On this day in military 1775. The Continental Congress passed a resolution raising two battalions of Marines to be used as landing forces for the Continental Navy. In light of recent events in Iraq, we should all take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices of the men whose motto is "Semper Fidelis" ("Always Faithful!") in defense of the liberty of the United States of America. It is customary today to wish each and every Marine, current and former, "Happy Birthday!" (Happy Birthday, Cap'n!). So thanks to Uncle Sam's Misguided Children, the Great El-ahrairah now has two birthdays. Semper Fi, Cap'n!

Monday, November 08, 2004

On this day in military 1939 and 1942

On this day in military 1939. Hitler survives an assassination attempt. Imagine what would have been if he had been killed in 1939.

On this day in military 1942. The Anglo-American forces under General Dwight Eisenhower invade Morocco and Algeria during Operation Torch. The Russians had been asking the Allies to open a second front against the Germans, so to help the Russkies out and also to provide a foothold for the Allied forces in northwest Africa, the Allies invaded the areas of Morocco and Algeria controlled by the Vichy French. It was hoped that the Vichy French forces would "surrender" or at least provide no resistance if confronted by the combined Anglo-American army. There was sporadic fighting during the invasion as most Vichy French forces decided that "living to fight another day" was preferable to dieing for Hitler except at the landing site close to Casablanca. Coastal batteries fired on the invasion fleet and the US Navy sunk a number of destroyers and submarines to prevent them from attacking the landing beaches.

The Torch landings caught the Germans in the rear and forced them to fight a "two front" war in North Africa, the Americans closing in on Tunisia from the west and the British forces from the east. The Germans still held out, scoring notable victories at Faid and Kasserine Passes, until May 1943 when all Axis resistance in North Africa finally ceased. Historical Note: The first appearance of the feared German "Tiger" tank was in during the north Africa campaign. It didn't live up to it's reputation at that time.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Election results

Unless you live in a cave like Osama (and even maybe if you do), you would know that President Bush won re-election. My prediction that President Bush would win was close enough for guv-mint work although I got the percentages and EV wrong. I find interesting the fact that the President got 71% of the vote in Utah and Kerry only got a paltry 27%. Many people will point to this fact as proof that Utah is a one-party (Republican) state where dissent is not allowed. Of course, to them, the fact that Bush got only 9% of the vote in DC while Kerry got 90% doesn't mean exactly the same thing.

I was expecting the Democrats to contest this election, just like the last election, and for awhile, it seemed that my worse fears were realized. However, Senator Kerry decided to concede defeat and bring this election to a close. If Senator Kerry did this to spare the US another 2000 election nightmare, I am very thankful and greatly respect him for his decision. However, something down inside of me says that there are other reasons that he decided to do this. The first is that the Democrats told him that the American public would not stand for another 2000 election fiasco. Since Kerry lost the popular vote and the margin of victory in Ohio was so great, in order to avoid completely destroing whatever respect that the American public has with the Democrats and torpedo Senator Hillary's chances for president, he was told that no one would support him. The second is that the Swift Boat Veterans actually had info that he was given a dishonorable discharge from the military. Imagine what would happen if Senator Kerry had decided to contest the election in Ohio. Already a majority of the US public would not want this and would look down on this endeavour. Then, the Swiftie's start bombarding the airwaves with commercials showing that Senator John Kerry had received a dishonorable discharge from the military. Suddenly, Senator Kerry has gone from a presidential candidate who is trying to steal the election to a disgraced Vietnam War protestor who is trying to steal the election. The Democratic party would be destroyed. Regardless of the reason, Senator Kerry decided to call it quits and save everyone in the US from another prolonged election nightmare.

The anti-gay marriage amendment in Utah passed (Duh!) by only 66%. I had thought it would do better (>70%), but I guess with all the people who are involved in the arts in Utah, this was to be expected. It is interesting that more people voted for President Bush than the anti-gay marriage amendment, so there must be more closet gay Republicans in Utah than expected.

Everyone else that I thought would win did, except for the 2nd Congressional District race. The 2nd Congressional District contains large parts of Salt Lake City and it seems that the Republicans can't ever seem to field a decent candidate. As a result, the incumbent Democrat, Jim Matheson, was re-elected.

What?!?!?! He's back?!?!?!?

It seems that my brother, Captain Holly, is back from his self-imposed exile. Hey Cap'n, next time, let me know in advance I'll try to clean up the place.

My last Andrew Sullivan post (for now)

I checked over at Andrew's site to enjoy more schaudenfreude at his expense and I read this post. The man is so self-contradictory that it is surprising he doesn't argue with himself on his blog. Read this latest quote

What we're seeing, I think, is a huge fundamentalist Christian revival in this country, a religious movement that is now explicitly political as well....And it is completely legitimate in this country for such views to be represented in public policy, however much I disagree with them. But the intensity of the passion, and the inherently totalist nature of religiously motivated politics means deep social conflict if we are not careful. Our safety valve must be federalism. We have to live and let live. As blue states become more secular, and red states become less so, the only alternative to a national religious war is to allow different states to pursue different options. That goes for things like decriminalization of marijuana, abortion rights, stem cell research and marriage rights. Forcing California and Mississippi into one model is a recipe for disaster. Federalism is now more important than ever. I just hope that Republican federalists understand this. I fear they don't. (Emphasis added)

and contrast it with this one from earlier today

I've been trying to think of what to say about what appears to be the enormous success the Republicans had in using gay couples' rights to gain critical votes in key states. In eight more states now, gay couples have no relationship rights at all. Their legal ability to visit a spouse in hospital, to pass on property, to have legal protections for their children has been gutted. If you are a gay couple living in Alabama, you know one thing: your family has no standing under the law; and it can and will be violated by strangers. I'm not surprised by this. When you put a tiny and despised minority up for a popular vote, the minority usually loses. But it is deeply, deeply dispiriting nonetheless. A lot of gay people are devastated this morning, and terrified. We have seen, and not for the first time, how using fear of a minority can be so effective a tool in building a political movement. The single most important issue for Republican voters, according to exit polls, was not the war on terror or Iraq or the economy. It was "moral values". (Emphasis added)

So which is it, Andrew? Is the passage of these Traditional Marriage Amendments the harbinger of a new wave of anti-gay oppression, or simply our Federal system at it's best? Are you going to let Utahns "live and let live", or are you going to force us to honor gay marriages from Massachusetts?

I suspect that Mr. Sullivan's newfound fervor for Federalism is merely a political tactic to dissuade opponents of gay marriage from pushing the issue, an issue that even he now admits is political poison for the Democrats. The hope of Sullivan and other gay activists is that they can get the Supreme Court to rule favorably before an amendment passes, instead of having to convince them to overturn a Constitutional amendment (but hey, the court already ignored the 10th amendment in the Lawrence decision, why not another one?). The results of yesterday make that alot harder.

Oh, please, please, PLEASE do this

Andrew Sullivans' cluelessness about the American electorate and especially "red state" voters seems to be endemic among his fellow gays. This quote makes me hope that gay-rights fanatics will continue their head-long run towards the edge of the political cliff, and take the Democrat party with them:

For gay rights groups, the one-sided results, while disheartening, were optimistically seen as just one strike in an ongoing fight.

The votes will become "a blip in the longer term historic view," said Karl Olson, executive director of the gay-rights group PRIDE in Montana. "Our constitution isn't going to be able to sustain this kind of restriction on civil rights."

And what are they going to do about it? Why litigate, of course. That'll show those religious conservatives!

Gay-rights activists intend to press marriage-rights lawsuits in states like California and New Jersey, where they believe the high courts might eventually rule in their favor.

I agree with Clayton Cramer. Not only are these people insufferably arrogant, they are political idiots.

Egg. Face. John Zogby.

Like most conservatives, I've known for quite some time that Zogby is a Democrat partisan.

I've also suspected that he was "massaging" his polling data to help Kerry.

It's nice to know he finally (kinda, sorta) admits it.

The Captain is back

Finally, we have moved into our new house and things are getting settled down. Unfortunately, we've had a couple of glitches: The drains overflowed Monday night (due to gravel in the line) and our worthless regional telephone monopoly (Qwest) won't be able to hook up our phones for another three weeks.

Ah, but the election went well, and I am basking in the glow of a Republican victory. So without further ado....

It's especially bright and sunny today, isn't it?

George Bush has won re-election by a comfortable margin. John Kerry has decided that he doesn't want to be another Al Gore and will concede today.

Captain Holly can't complain. My prayers were (pretty much) answered.

I hoped for a convincing Bush victory in the popular vote (got it).

I wanted a solid Bush win in the electoral vote (got it).

I expected a humiliation of the Mainstream Media and their biased pollsters (got it).

I didn't, however, get my fondest fantasy. I had dreamed of a Democrat press conference taking place about right now, featuring an angry John Kerry, his botoxed face showing the most outrage he could muster, flanked by a wild-eyed Terry McAuliffe and a somber Tom Daschle, announcing that they will contest the votes in every close state. Alas, cooler heads have prevailed and the self-destruction of the Democrat party will have to wait until a later time.

I was fairly close in my predictions. Unfortunately, because of our lack of internet access, I wasn't able to post them, so you'll just have to take my word for it. I predicted a 51-48 Bush win. I expected Bush to carry all the states he carried in 2000 and pick up Wisconsin, New Mexico, Iowa and possibly Oregon. I was half right there.

Locally, I only got half my wish: We defeated Scott Matheson for governor, but we'll still have to put up with his pretentious brother, Jim, in Congress.

All in all, life is good for Captain Holly. The only major event left on the horizon is the birth of our daughter next week.

Uh, dude, like, were we supposed to vote today?

Apparently, the youth vote wasn't as big as predicted.

I didn't really believe the hype about the tattooed, nose-pierced mall-walking skateboard set showing up in droves to vote for Kerry.

It's nice to know my stereotypes are still accurate.

Oh, by the way Andrew, it's now 17-0

Andrew Sullivan continues his fantasy that only extremists oppose gay marriage.

17-0, bitch. Voters now in seventeen states have adopted anti-gay marriage amendments. Not a single one has rejected a Defense of Marriage amendment. And you think gay marriage opponents will sit idly by and allow the courts to force it on them?

Bring it on, Andrew. Bring it on.

Monday, November 01, 2004

On this day in military 1943 and others

On this day in military 1943. The 3rd Marine Division invades the island of Bougainville in the Solomon Islands.

On this day in military 1943. During the night of 1 November - 2 November, US fleet repulses a Japanese navy counterattack at the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay. When the Japanese learned of the landings at Bougainville, they dispatched a fleet of cruisers and destroyers to attack the landings beaches. This fleet ran into an American fleet protecting the landing beaches. Normally, the Japanese were experts at naval night actions, but thanks to radar-guided gunnery for the Americans and inept Japanese sailing, the Japanese lost a light cruiser and a destroyer with other ships damaged. The Americans had some ships damaged, but avoided the lost of any cruisers to Japanese torpedoes.

On this day in military 1951. The Algerian National Liberation Front begins guerilla warfare against the French.