Saturday, January 28, 2006

"Napoleon Dynamite" is at 14 minutes, 59 seconds

As much as I like the movie, I must admit that Napoleon Dynamite has officially jumped the shark.

How do I know? Well, at the grocery store today, they had talking Napoleon Dynamite action figures on sale as impulse items, located right by the cash register.

Kiss of death.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Enjoying my blog-cation, weather is nice

It's not that I'm lazy, I just haven't felt like blogging much lately. Besides, I'd rather do other things like cross-country skiing.

This was taken up Parley's Canyon east of Salt Lake City last Saturday. Snow was nice, weather was okay, and it was a good workout. I have to buy a new van this weekend, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to go ice fishing as I planned. There will be photos if I do.

Hate crimes, again

There was a hate crime committed in Utah last weekend.

Well, that's what I thought. Two men who were dressed like Mormon missionaries were assaulted by someone who yelled invective against the LDS Church. Sounds like a hate crime to me.

Only the men weren't missionaries; they were employees of a local Radio Shack, taking a break from work. Still, they were attacked only because they were perceived to be Mormon. But the local prosecutor says there "isn't enough evidence" that this was a hate crime.

Longtime readers of The Warren know that hate crimes laws are near the top of my Most Disliked list. They are in effect speech codes that are intended solely to stigmatize, and thereby marginalize, certain points of view with the ultimate goal of criminalizing them. And as we can see with this incident, even if there was a hate crimes law on the books in Utah the local prosecutor ignored the obvious. Nope, no hate crime here. No sirree.

Not only is the intent of hate crimes laws to stifle free speech ("Send a message" or in plain English, "shut certain people up") this incident demonstrates that they are never enforced fairly. If you're a straight white Mormon male, it is virtually impossible for anyone to commit a hate crime against you.

The ever-persistent Rep. David Litvack pounced on news of this event, saying that this demonstrates the need for a hate crimes law in Utah. But what good is a law if the prosecutor declines to press charges because the victim isn't a member of an Aggrieved Minority Group?

Personally, I'd rather take my chances with the bigots. At least they don't pretend to be my friends.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

El-ahrairah's Iraq Diary, Page Three

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

Another week of my all-expense paid guv-mint Iraqi vacation is finished. Yet again, the terrorists tried to “win one for Osama” in the global “Kill All Infidels” video game. Unfortunately, although they came close (ground-shaking, KA-BOOM! close), they missed! Better luck next time, (switch to Ah-nold voice) girly-men!

Not much happened since my last post other than the rain stopped and we are drying out (pretty fast since we only have two types of weather here, clear/sunny and cloudy/raining. I did follow the Alito hearings with some interest. I wanted to see just how badly the Democrats in the Senate would try to smear him. Unfortunately, the Democrats confused being boring with being senatorial and showed just why they are the minority party. Senator Kennedy proved why there should be a senility test for US Senators and Senator Biden must think that the mark of intelligence is directly proportional to the quantity of words which issue from a speaker’s mouth and not the quality. The French have a word for that. It’s the verb baver which means to drool. However, if someone describes what comes out of your mouth when you speak as baver, well, you get the idea.

I read this report from Hugh Hewitt about a list of the 50 most influential Christians in America. He takes exception to Pope Benedict XVI as #44. Most of them are not familiar to me but President George Bush is listed as #8. Frankly, I would have put him at #1, far ahead of anyone else since he has more impact on Christians in the United States than Billy Graham (#3), James Dobson (#9) and Robert Schuller (#19). Dr. Phil McGraw of “Dr. Phil” fame made the list at #50. Unfortunately, Dr. Laura Schlessinger isn’t Christian. I consider her to have much more influence in the United States than Dr. Phil (Would Dr. Phil condemn pre-martial sex, etc. as strongly as Dr. Laura? I didn’t think so.). The president of the LDS Church, Gordon B. Hinckley didn’t make the list either, but that is not all that surprising since the list was probably put together by people who don’t consider members of the LDS Church to be Christian. Hey Cap’n, if you ever want to spin up a Jehovah’s Witness or an evangelist/Baptist, keep referring to yourself as a “Christian”. It really makes their blood boil.

Speaking of Utah, I see that they have narrowed the field down to three designs for the Utah State quarter which is due out in 2007. I thought they would have had a design showing the Great State of Utah in the background with the handcart pioneers in the foreground, but of the three finalists, I’m inclined to select the beehive design. The Promontory Point design is also nice but I think the snowboarder design is kind of cheesy. I really don’t want to be known as the ‘rad state of Utah, dude.”

I also see that Salt Lake City mayor, Hissonner “Rock-Head” Anderson is in a tiff about free airport parking for journalists. This is in response to a DesNews report about how he uses his free parking privileges at the Salt Lake Airport, not only for business trips, but also for personal trips. I guess if Salt Lake City was looking into removing free parking privileges for journalists before the story came out, I wouldn’t think twice about it, BUT it’s just too convenient that it happens right now, just after Rock-Head got slammed for abusing his parking privilege.

Monday, January 16, 2006

El-ahrairah's Chronicles of The French Navy

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

The continuing saga of the “Ship O’ Death”

This is the story of a certain French warship that nobody wants. Back in 1997, the French military decommissioned the 33,000-ton aircraft carrier Clemenceau. After sitting around rusting in Toulon, France, it was finally sold for scrap in 2003 to a Spanish company. In late October 2003, it was to be towed from Toulon to the Atlantic port of Gijon in northern Spain for demolition. However, instead of sailing for the Straits of Gibraltar, it was seen heading southeast down the coast of Italy towards Turkey.

The reason for this sudden change in direction was that the Clemenceau was just chock-full of asbestos and before it could be broken up, all the asbestos in the carrier needed to be removed. Since there were certain rules and regulations in Europe governing the removal of asbestos, the company that bought the Clemenceau wanted to skirt these rules and have the work done in Turkey where environmental regulations are much looser. When the French military got wind of this, they cancelled the contract and the Clemenceau was returned to France.

This is where the Great El-ahrairah joins the story. I had just returned from Baghdad and was finishing up a long overdue vacation in Italy before proceeding on my way to my next assignment in Germany. My sainted wife at the time had been taking helicopter flying lessons and wanted me to meet her instructors. While we were there, we were told that there was a photographer from Rome who wanted to be taken on a search for the Clemenceau which was though to be off the coast of Sicily. The flight school commander asked us if we wanted to go for along for a ride and we said “sure”. So, the four of us (the pilot, my sainted wife, the photographer and myself) climbed into the helicopter and went off searching for the Clemenceau. We figured that it wasn’t too far off the Sicilian coast and sure enough, after about a half-hour of searching, we found the Clemenceau off Augusta, Sicily being towed by a tug heading for Turkey. We circled the ship numerous times and hovered overhead while the photographer took numerous photos to document the physical state of the ship and then left. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my brand-spanking new Sony Cybershot so I don’t have any photos of the event. Poop!

Fast forward to 2006. The Clemenceau is again in the news. The French have signed a contract with the Alang ship breaking yard, in the state of Gujarat on the west coast of India this time to take the “ship of death” off its hands and dispose of it. Unfortunately, this has not gone smoothly since India is now refusing to take the ship due to hazardous waste concerns. Greenpeace has gotten involved by boarding the ship and initially, Egypt refused to allow the ship to pass thru the Suez canal. However, Egypt has now given the “green light” to the French and the Clemenceau can now pass thru the Suez Canal.

The main sticking point is the French insistence that the Clemenceau is only carrying 45 tons of asbestos whereas the firm that partially helped to decontaminate the ship before setting sail, there are between 500 to 1000 tons of the deadly substance on-board.

The Great El-ahrairah doesn’t see what all the fuss is about. Say that there is actually 1000 tons of the substance on-board. 1000 tons is a large quantity, but when compared to the overall weight of the ship, the amount of asbestos on-board is only 3% of the ship’s overall weight. If the amount is 500 tons, the amount is only 1.5% of the ship’s overall weight. If the amount is 45 tons like the French government maintains, the amount is only 0.14% of the ship’s overall weight. It doesn’t seem like much to get worked up about to me.

Why don’t the French just sink the ship off the coast of France? That’s what the US Navy did last year. The US Navy sunk the USS America off the coast of Virginia in May 2005 to test out just how much damage an aircraft carrier could take before sinking. The last time that the US Navy lost an aircraft carrier was during World War II and they wanted to see what affect today’s weapons would have on a ship that was designed using lessons learned during war over 60 years ago. The French could have done the same thing and avoided all the controversy. They probably could have even sold the hulk to the US Navy and let the military have some “live fire” fun ‘n’ games. I’ll bet money that they could have made off the pay-per-view broadcast and DVDs would have more than covered the cost. They could have even sold advertising space on the boat. “This pay-per-view demonstration of your tax dollars at work destroying a “surrendered” French warship is brought to you by Budweiser. To the US military, for all you do, this Bud’s for you”.

El-ahrarah told you so...

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

Is anyone surprised by this?

This via Mark Steyn about some fallout of the Canadian decision to legalize gay marriage: the Justice Department of Canada has recommended removing the ban on polygamy. This is one of many Mark Steyn “I-told-you-so” moments, but it’s also an El-ahrairah “I-told-you-so” moment as I blogged here , here, and here. Either I’m intellectually in the same league as Mark Steyn (I doubt it) or it it’s just so easy to predict what liberals will do. Probably the second.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Odds and Ends

I've been busy with family stuff lately, and I've missed blogging about some issues. Here's my take on some of what's been happening lately.

Who's advising the Senate Democrats on political strategy? Ken Mehlman? Karl Rove? After listening to the smug pontifications of Chuck Schumer, the paranoid assertions of Teddy Kennedy, and the disjointed ramblings of Joe Biden, I'm convinced the Alito confirmation hearings were a Secret Rovian Plot designed to make the Democrats look idiotic. Only the bluest, most hard-core Democrat could sit through them and think they were being effective. If I were Bill Frist I'd keep these hearings going 24/7 until the November elections. Or at the very least let them filibuster Judge Alito and make sure that the networks cover it live.

And speaking of stupid political strategies, Dirty Harry Reid was in Utah a couple of days ago, touting an "ethics reform" package designed to take advantage of the political fallout from the Abramoff scandal. Trouble is, the Good Minority Leader himself took some $61,000 from Abramoff-affiliated groups. But as befits a bigwig in the party of the Clintons, he justified his keeping the money because he didn't get if from Abramoff directly. Okaaay. Right. That explanation might fly with the DNC lawyers, but to us poor drooling hicks in Flyover Country it sounds rather, uh, Clintonian. If I were more paranoid, I'd say Senator Reid was under the influence of Secret Rovian Mindwaves, because that's an excuse only Karl himself would want the Democrats to use.

While we're on the subject of deluded liberals, they seem to believe that the movie Bareback, er, Brokeback Mountain would be a Titanic-sized blockbuster if it only weren't for those damned Christofascists. This week, Utah Jazz and Jordan Commons Theatre owner Larry H. Miller decided to pull the movie after hearing about the movie's subject, and judging from the reaction one would think he'd just announced the opening of a new detention center for the "re-education" of gay men.

Uber-lefty Tribune film critic Sean Means has repeatedly assured Mr. Miller that he was missing out on an incredible economic opportunity. Why Brokeback earned over $11,000 per screen last week, the most of any movie in Utah! Of course, it's only being shown at three theatres, last week was its Utah premiere, and the total gross for the entire movie so far is only $22 million. Heck, Napoleon Dynamite made twice that much money, at a fraction of the cost. But it was never considered anything more than a "cult classic".

If you really want to talk about blockbusters, The Chronicles of Narnia has earned almost $500 million. What's more, on its' opening weekend Narnia earned a cool $19,000 per screen. But since every good liberal knows Narnia is really part of the Secret Christer Plot to burn homosexuals like fagots and keep wimmin barefoot and pregnant, no self-respecting movie critic discusses it anymore even though it still is one of the top three movies in America some 6 weeks after its premiere.

Considering Utah's demographics, banning the movie was a shrewd move.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

El-ahrairah's Iraq Diary, Page Two

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

Well, yet another week under the bridge until my Iraqi vacation is finished. Nothing much happened this week other than the terrorists tried to (switch to Ross Perot voice) "take me out" once this week, but they failed. Ha! The Great El-ahrairah laughs at their puny attempts.

Anyway, it looks like the monsoon season has arrived since it’s raining outside, turning everything into reddish-brown mud. Yuck! or as my sainted Italian wife says, "Uffa, la muffa". It probably wouldn’t be that bad if we had decent drainage, but the rain just sits in puddles everywhere and mud gets tracked everywhere. Lucky for us, we don’t live in tents anymore. The temperature here could be compared to Southern Utah or Las Vegas in the winter. I’m hoping for the freak Iraqi snowstorm to really make things "interesting".

Since I’ve been here before, I have pretty well fell into my "groundhog day" existence because I don’t have to go wandering around the base playing tourist ("Wow, check it out! Tanks! The real heavy metal!"). I get out of bed between 0630 and 0700 and schlep to the chow hall for breakfast. The chow hall serves typical American breakfast fare (no wimpy croissants and quiche here) and we even get to eat "evil" pork products. I pretty well eat the same thing for breakfast since I’m basically lazy and not too motivated to try new and different things early in the morning.

After breakfast, I go back to the room, do some reading (I read the Holy Scriptures and alternate between Dante’s Purgatorio and my "war porn" book, the Encyclopedia of the World’s Battles) until about 1000 when I go running. After a good 30 to 40 minutes of beating my feet against the pavement, I return home where I take my shower and then walk to work to arrive there between 1130 and 1200. At 1730, we take the van and drive to dinner. On the way, we swing by the housing area and pick up two other civilians who work the night. I leave work around 2300 and walk back to the housing area to where I’m usually in bed around midnight.

The military has things that we can do to kill the monotony, but most of them don’t interest me all that much. You can check out video game consoles at the Rec Center, but Halo 2 doesn’t interest me all that much. Speaking of Halo 2, I think the game basically sucks for a FPS (first-person shooter). I cut my teeth on Doom/Hexen/Heretic and the aliens in Halo 2 remind me of something you would see in Animal Crossing. If you don’t know what Animal Crossing is, it’s basically a game for non-violent, vegetarian, cross-dressing Gandhi types who live in the Pacific Northwest and believe that all the problems in the world are a direct result not signing the Kyoto Treaty and the BusHilterCheneyHalliburton war on terror. Ergo, my French ex-wife bought it for my son.

Anyway, the normal highlights of a typical work week in the US don’t exist if you are at work every day. Monday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, it’s all basically the same. The only things to look forward to are sports. Right now, it’s the NFL. BTW, go Redskins! Beat Seattle!

Well, got to go. Before I go, I read about Ariel Sharon’s stroke. Before his stroke, he was reviled by the left for daring to even think that he could solve Israel’s Palestinian problem without the involvement of the UN, etc. Now, those some people are wondering about how Israel will continue without him. For a great illustration of the hypocrisy of the left, check out Liberal Larry’s blog. Remind you of anyone of a liberal persuasion?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Screamingly Obvious Media Bias

The Deseret News tries its hand at manufacturing consent.

According to a poll taken this past week, Utahns definitely do not want a tax cut. No siree, not at all. If the poll numbers are to be believed, "nearly half" of all Utahns -- some 48% -- want the Legislature to spend all of Utah's billion-dollar budget surplus on the poor, starvin' teachers.

Well that's nice, but the graphic that accompanies the story shows that in response to the question "How much of a tax cut, if any, do you favor?", some 57% percent say they want tax cuts ranging between $40 million and $230 million. Only 36% said they don't want any type of tax cut and to spend the money on teachers.

The last time I took a statistics class, 57% is a solid majority. And if 57% of Utahns want a tax cut, that means no greater than 43% would oppose such a cut, not 48%. Either the poll numbers have been misreported by the Great, Wise and All-Seeing Editors of the Deseret News, or this is a bad attempt to deliberately distort the issue.

Neither answer would surprise me, frankly.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Miracle!

The trapped miners in West Virginia have been found alive! Thanks be to God.

Forgive me for marring the occasion with a bit of cynicism, but as I watched the news coverage over the past couple of days it seemed to me that the MainStreamMedia were eagerly waiting for the dead bodies to be found in order to provide the tragic coda to their already-written stories of Corporate Greed and Lack of Government Oversight in BusHitler's Amerikkka.

It got so bad that the Governor of West Virginia, in an interview with Matt Lauer that I witnessed this morning, constantly had to shift Matt's questions away from the safety violations found in the last inspection to the reality that the miners might still be alive and that was all the Governor cared about right now.

Very illuminating, in a certain way.

UPDATE: This is horrible.

Utah Ski Industry Deathwatch Update

In order to honor one of Utah's most smug, fatuous, narcissistic, and elitist citizens (no, it's not him), I've decided to keep track on one of his most idiotic predictions. As was blogged on this website last summer, during a snooty elitist Global Warming confab at Robert Redford's Sundance ski resort last July Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson provided us with this howler:

As an advocate, Anderson has tried to give locals a reason to care about global warming. In his 2005 State of the City speech the mayor said higher temperatures could level Utah's lucrative ski industry in just a few decades.

The world "stands at the brink of environmental catastrophe from global warming," he said. Climate change could "spell the end of much of the ski industry."

Of course, being Rocky Anderson he didn't let the reality that Snowbird Ski resort at that very moment was enjoying its' longest and most profitable season in history -- thanks to record snowfalls -- change his mind. Nope, Utah's ski industry is doomed, and it's all George Bush's fault.

His prediction doesn't look any better so far this year: Utah's ski resorts appear to be on the same track as last year. And it's not all due to location and the 2002 Olympics, either; snowfall has been generous at the higher elevations this season. All in all, Utah's ski industry is going through boom times, when they're supposed to be getting ready to shut down due to imminent desertification.

How dare they.

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Deseret News is at it again

The staff at the Deseret News clearly have a burr under their saddle when it comes to the annual number of murders in Utah. Each January they provide us with a solemn summary of every homicide victim in the state, how they died, and the various motives of the killers.

They should feel lucky to live in Utah; with only 50 homicides (or more accurately, murders/non-negligent manslaughters) in the entire state for the year 2005, this "grim toll" only requires a couple of pages. If they were the Washington Post, they'd need a entire Sunday section to cover it.

As is their wont, the staff at the DesNews confuses the number of homicides with the rate of homicides, which is the number adjusted for population. While the number of Utah homicides each year fluctuates around 50 or 60, when adjusted for population growth the homicide rate in Utah is roughly 2.5 per 100,000 population. This is only half the rate of 30 years ago and compares favorably to enlightened EUtopias such as France, Italy, and Germany. Murder rates in Utah have been declining steadily since the mid-70's, even though (or because of) the number of concealed-weapon permittees has skyrocketed since 1995.

What's more, there's a dirty secret hidden in these statistics: A disproportionate number of homicide victims in Utah are Hispanic or Native American. In other words, if you're a white Mormon your chances of dying of homicide are about the same as that of your distant cousins in Great Britain and Scandinavia.

But then if you knew that, the Deseret News wouldn't be able to scare the hell out of you, could they?

More Brilliance from Mark Steyn

In this column, Mark Steyn lays out the problems facing the West from declining demographics. I've made many of the same points in the past.

I must admit, when my wife and I made a goal of having four children, we didn't do it because we wanted to save Western Civilization. We just thought it would be a good size for a family. Due to some medical complications, it took us longer than we thought, but we're happy we did it. And considering the demographic trends in politics, having children is increasingly like voting.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

2005 in Review

I remembered that a year ago on this date I posted my goals for the New Year:

Bag at least 3 peaks
Hike at least once a month
Fish at least once a month
Go shooting at least once a month
Play hockey for at least 12 weeks
Go on a nice winter vacation with wife
Go on a nice anniversary getaway with wife
Take my wife out once a month
Go deer hunting with my son
Have a family activity at least once a month
Go to the Grand Canyon for the family vacation
Exercise more regularly
Keep within our budget

Oh, yes, and try to blog at least once a week.

Looking them over, I feel pretty good about it; I was able to keep most of them (other than staying within my budget). So this next year, my resolutions will be pretty much the same, except that I will try and do more hiking and shooting. This year is also the year I plan to go on a big deer hunting expedition with my son to Idaho.

The year 2005 was eventful for our family but for some reason nothing stands out in my mind right now. I'd rather look ahead to 2006 and all the great things that will hopefully happen this year.

Happy New Year!

El-ahrairah's Iraqi Diary

(posted from an e-mail at El-ahrairah's request with no editing done, at his request)

Happy New Year from the Great El-ahrairah. I had the Cap’n post this to The Warren for me since the military is kind of "anal" about blogging (it’s considered a waste of military assets). Anyway, after a week on vacation with my wife in Dubai, I’m now back in my Iraqi home-away-from-home-away-from-home. For all you readers who are stuck in the clutches of Old Man Winter, the vacation village were we were staying put on a special dinner Christmas Eve where we were "entertained" by a belly dancer. I got to dance with her, but my wife "forgot" to take any photos. We spent the morning of Christmas Day swimming in the ocean and catching some rays. That night, we went on an evil desert SUV safari where we got to take a ride on a camel, eat some barbecue and watch yet another belly dancer.

But, all good things must come to an end, so I said goodbye to my wife at the airport and then started my travel adventure to Iraq. This time, instead of going thru the land of bratwurst, beer and sauerkraut, I decided to go to Iraq thru one of the smaller, richer Middle-Eastern nations in the region. My trip was not without its problems, but nothing that was a show-stopper and I wasn’t forced to waste hours/days/weeks sitting in a military passenger terminal waiting for airlift. Unfortunately, instead of taking a C-17 into Iraq, I was forced to fly on a C-130. We landed just as the "dead-enders" lobbed a couple of mortars at the base, so we had to beat-feet to get off the C-130 and run to a "scud bunker" until the "All Clear" signal was given. I’m still wondering who split the beans that The Great El-ahrairah was on his way back to Iraq. Someone needs to practice better OPSEC. Remember, loose lips sink ships.

The base hasn’t changed much since I left in July last year. Most of the buildings that were in the process of going up are now finished except for two warehouses. It looks like they stopped working on them the minute that I left. There is now a Popeye’s Chicken restaurant on the other side of the base along with another BX. About the biggest change is the addition of concrete sidewalks in the housing area. Last year, when I got here, there were sidewalks made of wood to keep you from walking in the mud when it rained. They were later removed at the end of the rainy season and now have been replaced by nice concrete sidewalks. A skateboarder would be salivating at the thought. We’ll see how they hold up during the monsoon season. My room is located in the same area where I was before, so it’s just like going back home.

The unit that I’m attached to decided to have their own New Year’s Eve party (the squadron’s was some lame Mardi Gras party) so we sat around eating Pizza Hut pizza ("La Pizza!"), playing Uno and watching TV. For many of the military, spending New Year’s Eve without alcohol was probably a new experience. For me, this is what we normally do on New Year’s Eve.
Anyway, I’m here until April. The dead-enders in Iraq, AKA terrorists (not to be confused with the dead-enders in America, AKA Defeato-crats) tried to take me out this morning with another mortar attack, but they missed. They just wanted to make sure that all us infidels don’t forget that this is a war zone, not Club Med of Mesopotamia. So, remember, whatever your political persuasion, at least the Great El-ahrairah knows more about what’s going on in Iraq than Senators John "War Hero" Kerry, Edward "Der Schwimmer" Kennedy or Harry "Bad Example" Reid.