Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day

A picture of Old Glory in front of our house. This flag was flown over the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor.

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Memorial Day has always been a significant holiday in our family, but even more so this year with the recent death of my father. Dad was a patriot and would fly the flag on every holiday.

When I was a kid we went to visit family graves in Idaho and Utah. It was kind of a ritual; we'd drive up to Idaho on Friday night, visit my uncles, decorate the graves, and then drive back on Memorial Day. We'd go see my mother's side of the family the next weekend. Even back then I knew where all my ancestors were buried.

As my brother and I got older, the tradition stopped. Today we are going to start it up again. My father is now among the dead of our family. He would appreciate the visit.

Hike Blogging: Frary Peak, Antelope Island State Park

Saturday, I hiked to the top of Frary Peak at Antelope Island State Park, Davis County, Utah.

Overall, a very nice hike. Weather was just about right, although it got hot towards the end. There was hardly anyone else on the trail, which was surprising for a holiday weekend. If you go there the best times to visit are spring (between St. Patrick's and Memorial Day) and fall (Labor Day to Thanksgiving). Other times it's just too hot or too cold, although I used to ride my bike on the causeway and roads during summer mornings before it heated up. Antelope Island is a grassland/cold desert, so there's very little shade or shelter from the wind.

The trail is about 4 miles long, and it took me about 1 hr. 45 min. to get to the top, and only about 1 hr. and 15 min. to get back down. Elevation at the top is about 6,500 feet above sea level. The trail is listed as moderate/difficult but is only steep at the beginning and the end.

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To get there, you cross a 7-mile long causeway that is perfect for biking (aside from the clouds of bugs in the spring -- note the dots on the picture).

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Antelope (Antilocapra americana) originally inhabited the island (hence the name) but were gone by 1930. They were reintroduced in 1993. This is one of a herd of about 150.

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On top of Frary Peak. Downtown Salt Lake City is somewhere in that haze, about 20 miles away.

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Off to the west US Magnesium produces (you guessed it) magnesium from lake salts. They also produce chlorine gas, but since they cut back on their pollution, you can't see the smokestacks very well anymore.

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The big attraction is the herd of buffalo (Bison bison). There are about 700 hundred on the island, and every year they have a round up in late October/early November and sell off excess animals. For a handful of lucky hunters, they also offer a hunt by draw.

Next scheduled hike: Naomi Peak, Wasatch-Cache National Forest


Sunday, May 29, 2005

Even More El-ahrairah Iraqi Photoblogging

Here's another of ol' El on top of his HAZ bunker, providing a perfect target for snipers. The area in the background beyond the fence is, to use an un-PC phrase, "Injun Country".

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Friday, May 27, 2005

Another reason why I'm not a Libertarian

Read this. More specifically, read the comments.

It is true that anti-Christianism is the only acceptable form of bigotry left.

And there's a bridge in Brooklyn for sale, too

Via Insty, we discover that the normally sensible Katharine Lopez of National Review's Corner sometimes believes the media hype and distortion.

Oh, come on. A generic poll shows 53% of Americans willing to vote for Hillary Clinton? Yeah, maybe 53% of the population as a whole, but not 53% of likely voters. This is "manufacturing consent" (to coin a Chomsky phrase) at its worst.

And notice that her support is still very soft -- only 29% say they would be "very likely" to vote for her, while a whopping 39% say they are "not at all likely" to vote for her. I'm inclined to believe that the overwhelming majority of the 39% who oppose her would crawl over broken glass in a snowstorm on election day to vote against her.

Hillary simply isn't ever going to be president. Unless, of course, the Republicans continue their stupid ways. And GOP strategists take note: We members of the grassroots are pretty pissed off right now.

You'd better stop it or you'll go blind!

Alas, the horror stories told to generations of teenage boys might indeed be true.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Get a life, people

Via WizBang, I found this story about the outrage over the new Carl's Jr. Paris Hilton ad. Since I am happily married and long past my teenage years, I don't really spend my time obsessing over dizty sluts like her (I'm probably the only heterosexual man with an internet connection who has not seen the porn video). She's defintely overrated, and within 5 years will officially be in the has-been class.

Kind of like Carl's Jr. I haven't eaten there for years; the food is average and much more expensive than what you would pay for the same thing at McDonald's or Burger King. My personal theory is that only through controversial, "edgy" advertising such as this do they keep their heads above water in the competitive fast-food market. Their food certainly doesn't keep them afloat.

But for cryin' out loud, if you don't like their advertisement, DON'T EAT THERE! Why, oh why, do you automatically have to involve the FCC? Does everything have to be a Federal issue?

And I got news for the folks at the Parent's Television Council: Virtually all of prime-time television is soft-core porn. As a parent, I've been amazed at what is being shown on network TV nowadays. I can remember parental advisory announcements whenever CBS would show a James Bond flick (Diamonds are Forever -- quite mild by today's standards). If you don't want to see it, turn it off. And then tell the network you turned it off.

I can sympathize with parents; after all, I am one. But I can't see how it is so difficult to control your kids TV-watching. My son doesn't seem very interested in Buffy reruns. His favorite channels are the Military Channel, the History Channel, and Nickelodeon (for the Looney Toons reruns only). Maybe it's because I actually am there with him when he's watching TV, or maybe it's because he has no interest in shallow subjects, or maybe he's just a geek. But we have no problems with inappropriate material at our house: If it's offensive, we CHANGE THE CHANNEL OR TURN IT OFF.

Try it sometime, it works.

Sorry, but this what Republicans do

I was off in the woods of North-central Idaho (more on that later) when this controversy erupted, so I'm behind the curve here. But there is plenty of comment elsewhere.

I'll just say that no one ever went broke underestimating the ability of the Republican Party to squander a political advantage. They aren't known as the "Stupid Party" for nothing. I just sigh and mark it down as another reason to tell the RNC to get stuffed the next time they bug me for money.

Republicans. Can't govern with 'em, can't win elections without 'em.

So I'm late

I meant to write this last Thursday, but I was too busy with other things.

Revenge of the Sith cements the idea that George Lucas is a brilliant geek, not a brilliant filmaker. The plot was obvious, the acting was wooden, and the dialogue was awful. And how is it that a civilization that has mastered interstellar travel and artificial limbs can't invent a decent epidural?

Nevertheless, I enjoyed it. The effects were stupendous, the fight sequences were awesome, and the overall emotional impact of the movie made up for all its flaws (of course one could say that about every Star Wars movie, excepting The Empire Strikes Back -- the best of them all).

Go and see it. Of course by now, most of you already have.

Monday, May 16, 2005

And the Von Hoffman award winner is...

Andrew Sullivan.

If you don't know what the Von Hoffman award is, it used to be one of AS's satire awards, given to people who made "egregiously bad predictions in wartime". For some reason, Andrew no longer offers the Von Hoffman, perhaps because it made anti-war types look so silly. In his new liberal incarnation, Andrew is just as likely to criticize the Bush Administration, his favorite subject being (natch) Abu Ghraib.

insert tasteless joke about pyramids of naked men holding a certain special appeal for Andrew

So it is quite hilarious that one half-hour after I read this story about Newsweek's retraction of the Koran-flushing hoax, I found this timeless quote in one of Andy's posts that was written just hours earlier:

So we have evidence of the abuse of Islam by U.S. interrogators; we have four citations of the Koran incident; Newsweek has not retracted the story; and more will no doubt come out. One thing worth reiterating: the notion that this obscenity simply couldn't have happened in the U.S. military (something I believed two years ago) is no longer an operative assumption. We know that incidents like this have happened. And even now, the administration is not denying it outright. (emphasis added).

Ahh, Andrew. That's why I pay his site a quick visit every now and then: there's always plenty of good material available.

Andrew offers a cautionary lesson for all bloggers: Don't let your personal political wishes interfere with reality.

Light blogging ahead

Apologies to whoever is checking in for their daily dose of Warren Wisdom, but I've been quite busy lately. And that will continue until the middle of next week, as NerdFest is this Wednesday and then I'm going on a quick family business trip to North-central Idaho.

The upside is that when I get back there will be some Cabin-in-the-Idaho-woods photoblogging, and Even More El-ahrairah Iraqi photoblogging.

I'll probably post my review of Revenge of the Sith before I leave.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Got my tickets to NerdFest '05!

I finally got the tickets to the midnight showing of Revenge of the Sith. A local laptop maker is renting the theatre and is going to have food and prizes and (natch) a costume contest.

Unlike NerdFest '03 (Return of the King) I won't be geeking up for this one. I simply don't have the time or desire to make a Wookie costume. I will try and get some good pics for photoblogging.

UPDATE: This is funny.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Don't we ever learn?

This story has been making the rounds lately (via NRA).

As tantalizing as the prospect of Hillary getting the Martha Stewart treatment is, we all really should know better by now. There are several good reasons why Hillary isn't going to prison before 2008.

First, Dick Morris has a habit of exaggerating things. I sometimes wonder if he isn't still secretly loyal to the Clintons, purposely gossiping about imminent indictments or other scandals in order to keep the Clinton-haters in a lather.

Second, don't ever underestimate the slipperiness of the Clintons. While Hillary might not have Bill's charm and political instincts, she does understand how the legal system works. After having covered her tracks so well for so long, it seems unlikely she would let something like this get past her.

Bottom line: You can't beat the Clintons in the courthouse. The legal system is the Clinton's Briar Patch; it's exactly where they want to be. Instead of hoping for long-delayed Justice to finally catch up with them, you need to attack the Clintons where they are politically vulnerable.

This is Hillary's Achilles Heel. Smart as she is, she's no Bill. She can be beaten. Beaten like a rented Mule or Red-headed Stepchild, especially in Red America.

But by the ballot box. Not by the Jury Box.

This (belated) Day in History...May 4,1945

(Posted from an e-mail at El-ahriarah's request, slightly edited because I'm a better writer than he is, nyah, nyah -- CH)

May 4th in military history...1945.

The USS Birmingham is hit by a kamikaze during the invasion of Okinawa. During the invasion, the USS Birmingham was a part of Rear Admiral Deyo’s off-shore gunfire support task force which included a large number of battleships, including his flagship, the USS Tennessee. On the 12th of April, the Tennessee was hit by a kamikaze, killing 22 sailors and wounding 107 others. The damage didn’t put the Tennessee out of action immediately and the ship stayed on station for two more weeks before leaving the area for Ulithi atoll for repairs.

When the Tennessee left the area, Admiral Deyo transferred his flag to the Birmingham. Unfortunately for the Birmingham, Admiral Deyo was a “kamikaze magnet” and a few days after he came on board, the ship was attacked by three kamikazes. She was able to fight off two of the attackers, but the third crashed just aft of the forward turrets, killing 51 crew members and wounding 81 others. It probably didn’t help matters either that the Birmingham had been ordered to slow to almost full stop to provide off-shore fire support when the attack happened.

Our (the Cap’n and I) sainted father was on board the Birmingham during the invasion of Okinawa. She was one of the unluckiest ships in the fleet for her size, being hit by a torpedo and two bombs off Empress Augusta Bay during the invasion of Bougainville in November of 1943, being severely damaged by an explosion on the aircraft carrier USS Princeton during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October of 1944 (237 killed and 426 injured out of a ship's complement of 1400), and the kamikaze attack off Okinawa. Some would say that Dad was very lucky, but we tend to think that it was through Divine Providence that he was protected.

Incidentally, the attacks did have one happy side-effect: Because his ship was forced to return stateside for repairs after each attack, my father was able to spend every Christmas during the war with his family.

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Dinosaurs are bellowing

Something must be in the water at MainStreamMedia headquarters, because the fossils seem to have come to life.

The first media Brontosaur I noticed was in the Saturday Deseret News. Don Gale is one of those sincere but clueless people who, when confronted by something they don't like and don't understand, become irrational and idiotic. For those who are unfamiliar with the name, Gale pontificated almost daily to the helpless viewers and listeners of KSL TV and KSL AM for 22 years, every time ending his condescending tirades with the statement "KSL welcomes contrasting points of view from responsible individuals". There must not have been very many "responsible" Utahns back then, because it was a rare occasion whenever someone actually got a chance to rebut a KSL editorial.

Since retiring, Gale has played the part of the crazy old Uncle at the family reunion who rants on and on about the Kaiser or President Harding or the Gold Standard. His columns appear in the Deseret News every few months, and the subject of his ire is almost always conservatives and talk radio (fortunately for The Warren, it seems he has yet to discover weblogs). But what can one expect from someone who decries "extremist" rhetoric from the right wing, and then compares conservative talk-shows to Hitlerarian propaganda?

The second was today when Garrison Keillor confirmed to everyone what a pompous ass he truly is. Keillor, perhaps America's most smug welfare recipient, called conservatives “…evil, lying, cynical bastards who are out to destroy the country I love and turn it into a banana republic, but hey, nobody's perfect.” Then he added another knee-slapper when he said:

Republicans are in need of affirmation, they don't feel comfortable in America and they crave listening to people who think like them. Liberals actually enjoy living in a free society; tuning in to hear an echo is not our idea of a good time.

As far as I am aware, he said that with a straight face. Maybe it's his way of saying he doesn't watch the evening news.

True, Keillor doesn't mind people holding or expressing different opinions, as long as they are the same as his. It's people who say things he doesn't agree with that bother him. And the fact that he uses taxpayer dollars to promote his opinions doesn't bother him, either. After all, he is smarter than everyone else, isn't he?

Gale and Keillor are like two old dinosaurs who have found that small, adaptable mammals (blogs and talk radio) have overrun their former broadcast paradise. To carry the metaphor further, they, like the dinosaurs, dimly recognize that their days are numbered and there's nothing they can do about it. So impotently bellowing is the only course of action left.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Still More El-ahrairah Iraqi Photoblogging

(Posted from an e-mail at his request -- CH)

Because there simply aren't enough pictures of silver-haired middle-aged men on the 'net, here's another one of ol' El, modeling his Level IV body armor.

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Why we fight

This is the most horrible thing I've seen in a long time.

As a father of a three-year old, I was moved to tears.

Kill them all. Every stinkin' one of them.

Before they kill another child.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Blaming the guy officially begins in 3, 2, 1...

Since I've been pretty accurate lately when it comes to predicting people's behavior, I'll try my hand at this controversy.

This lady clearly has some issues, and if I were her future husband I'd put the wedding on indefinite hold if not call it off altogether. She does not appear to be the most stable person right now, if she ever was.

But since society's PC Thought Codes require that no woman shall ever be held responsible for her behavior, I'm predicting the MainStreamMedia will soon portray her fiance or her father as "controlling" or possibly "abusive". Then they'll follow it up with some "expose" of the pressure created by the unrealistic expectations that Southern males place on their women (the "Scarlett O'Hara" syndrome).

Captain Holly will update you as soon as it happens. I'm predicting this week.

UPDATE: I might be wrong about this. When even reflexively liberal ditzes like Holly Mullen start calling for her head, things don't look too good for Our Heroine.

UPDATE UPDATE: Perhaps I need to be more patient. A good psychological evaluation will provide plenty of excuses for her defenders.

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE: Other guys are expecting the inevitable man-bashing.