Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Swedes win the Gold

Sweden finished out the Torino Olympics with a close win over rival Finland for the Gold medal.

Even though I'm roughly half-Swedish, I was cheering for the Finns. They were my pick to win the Gold, although I would rather have seen Team USA win it all (have to be realistic, you know). I didn't expect the Swedes to go that far since they started out so slow but they got stronger as the tournament wore on. Overall, it was great hockey, the best I've seen since the 2004 World Cup.

That's because there is incredible parity between the top teams in international hockey. As I noted earlier, any one of the top seven teams could have won it all. All three medalists from the 2002 Olympics (Canada, USA, Russia) failed to win even the bronze this time. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, four countries have won a gold medal in Olympic hockey, and six of the top seven have won at least silver. Counting other international tournaments over the past 15 years, every one of the top seven hockey teams have won at least one gold medal (Slovakia at the 2002 IIHF championships, USA at the 1996 World Cup).

Contrast that with another major international tournament, the soccer World Cup. While there are dozens of teams who participate, since 1978 there's only been a few select teams that have won it: Brazil and Argentina from South America; Germany and Italy from Europe (with host nation France getting lucky in 1998). You could make a prediction of a Brazil-Germany final in this year's World Cup and you wouldn't be very far off. While some nations are making great progress (notably the US), in the final analysis the World Cup isn't a very competitive tournament.

The level of competition at this Olympics makes me look forward to 2010. Hopefully, the NHL will continue to allow it's players to participate after that. The presence of NHL players has transformed Olympic hockey from a boring sideshow to the main event.

El-ahrairah's favorite President

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

So where does your favorite President stand?

As I was perusing the part of the Internet that Air Force Network Nazis haven’t yet blocked (don’t worry, they will soon enough), I noticed this Yahoo! News item. Since the world “scholars” appeared in the heading, that is a keyword for pointy-headed academics who sit around all day and try to change the outcome of history according to their own inherent bias. For example, when I was in school, Christopher Columbus was a great man who discovered America. Nowadays, he is an oppresive white European male whose “discovery” led to the rape of the Western Hemisphere and the subugation of all native peoples who were living in kumbayah harmony before “white man” showed up and started exercising his jingoistic imperial aggression over them. But I digress.

Anyway, these scholars decided to rate the worse Presidential Errors on a scale of 1 to 10. Number #1 was President Buchanan who did little to prevent the southern states from seceeding from the Union before the Civil War. Number #2 was President Andrew Johnson who became president after the assassination of President Lincoln and did nothing beyond abolishing slavery to improve the fate of freed slaves after the Civil War. Number #3 was yet another Johnson, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who escalated the Vietnam War without a plan for victory (sound familiar?). Number #4 was Woodrow Wilson’s refusal to compromise on the Treaty of Versailles after World War I, thereby setting up World War II. Number #5 was “Tricky Dick” Nixon and his involvement in Watergate. Number #6 was James Madison’s failure to keep us out of the War of 1812. Number #7 was Thomas Jefferson’s Embargo Act of 1807. Number #8 was John F. Kennedy and the his involvement in the Bay of Pigs invasion. Number #9 was President Ronald Reagan and the Iran-Contra scandal and finally, Number #10 was President “I feel your pain” Clinton and the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Does anyone notice anything missing from this list? Anything at all? Anyone? Bueller? If you said “Where is President Jimmah Cahtah and his Iran Hostage fiasco?”, you win a kewpie doll. Anyone who lived thru that fiasco would have no problem in putting him up there in the top five biggest Presidential blunders. Obviously the people who put this list together are still entralled with Jimmah Cahtah since they put Reagan’s Iran-Contra “scandal” on the list (Personally, I don’t see what the problem was. It was just Congress getting themselves in a snit because Reagan found a way around their meddling). I guess you have to be a real, hardcore pointy-head to understand both #6 and #7 (I always thought that the War of 1812 was a great American victory. Stupid me.) and why they were mistakes bigger than President Cartah’s rolling over to a bunch of low-rent terrorists from a third-world nation. We are still paying for Jimmah Cartah’s wanting to play nice and negotiate with terrorists instead of making downtown Tehran a ”glass parking lot”. In fact we are still paying for Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs fiasco (Castro still in power) and Johnson’s Vietnam War fiasco (A whole flower-power generation of 60’s dead-enders who are in government now). Isn’t it interesting that the last four Democratic presidents (Kennedy, Johnson, Carter and Clinton) have all been clearly inept?

El-ahrairah's obligatory Cindy Sheehan post

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

She burned up her 15 minutes in America, how ‘bout Europe?

Everyone’s favorite war protestor, ”Saint Cindy” Sheehan, has decided that since she used up her alloted 15-minutes of fame many months ago in America, she’ll go to Europe and see how long it lasts over there. She is planning on leading a Camp Casey protest at Ramstein Air Base, stopping by Paris to spew anti-Bush propaganda, appearing before the European Parliament in Strasbourg and finishing up in Berlin for “various activities”. I’m not surprised that she is going to Europe. Nobody wants to listen to her anymore in America, so why not go to Europe where the the climate is much more receptive to anti-American/anti-Bush rhetoric. If we are lucky, she’ll decide to stay there.

Friday, February 24, 2006

El-ahrairah's Analysis of Current Middle Eastern Events

(Since ol' El is actually in Iraq right now I asked him to provide his opinions on the recent UAE controversy and the IMMINENT IRAQI CIVIL WAR!!. -- CH)

OK, since I have actually been to Dubai and the UAE, I guess that makes me the resident expert on things like this. Wow, I’m an expert. Anyway, the AF has blocked all the good blogs that I used to read, so I was getting most of my info from the MSM (Yahoo! News) and Mark Steyn/The Strategy Pages (a balanced viewpoint). I saw that the Congress and the MSM were having kittens over the UAE ports deal, so I really hadn’t formed an opinion until I was able to get a differing viewpoint. The Strategy Pages had a good post about this today which kind of puts the whole thing into perspective for me.

As was pointed out in the Strategy Page, the UAE is a long-standing ally of the US. Eventhough it is a muslim country, it has promotes religious tolerance. While I was there at Christmas, we saw numerous Sunni and Shite mosques and also Christian churches. As was explained to us, everyone is free to worship as they wish, as long as they do not try to convert others. This seems a very pragmatic approach to the whole religious question to me, which makes a lot of sense for a country that size.

The UAE has also helped the US with it’s war on terror. To denigate it’s contributions is a very large slap in the face. At times, you may or may not agree with it’s policies on current events, but you must always remember that other countries that the US has close ties with (Canada, Great Britain, Australia, etc.) do not always see eye-to-eye with the US.

The article also pointed out that nothing will change in regards to security at the ports. In fact, if you think about it, no terrorist in his right mind would try anything thru any of these ports now seeing the uproar that this generated. You can be sure that the Coast Guard and other security forces would be extra vigilant at these ports. I would be more worried about the ports that are not as big or as well protected.

So, as far as I’m concerned, this is yet another non-issue. I like how, eventhough everyone was screaming about how we could not allow this that the President said that the sale will stand as is. That seemed to tell the children in Congress to sit down and shut up and quit criticizing things that they do not know anything about.

As for the IMMINIENT IRAQI CIVIL WAR, as far as I know, although this was a Shite mosque, it was used by both Sunnis and Shites, so blowing it up didn’t make too much sense. I have seen pictures of the mosque and they really did do some major damage. Photos from the side do not show the whole damage that was done. You have to see photos from the top to see just how badly they blew it up. The bombs that they used must have been very, very large. How will this affect me? I’ll let you know when something starts to affect me. Right now, there is nothing happening different that yesterday or the day before or the day before that. That doesn’t mean that something won’t happen tomorrow, but since the Iraqi government called out the army and imposed a daytime curfew, there hasn’t been too much more going on. It’s kind of hard to imagine that the country is in the verge of ALL-OUT CIVIL WAR!!!!!!!

Oh well, maybe next month.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

El-ahrairah's Belly-Dancing Photo-blogging

(Posted from an e-mail at his request. We'll see what his wife says. -- CH)

And now for something that has nothing to do with Iraq, a belly dancer from my vacation in Dubai. I thought I would throw that in there to get more traffic since everyone knows that sex sells.

If you are wondering why she doesn’t look Arab, it’s because she’ a Russkie (or a Ukie). Apparently, Arabian men like watching belly dancers, but they won’t allow their wives and daughters to learn how. So, all belly dancers in the UAE are not Arab.

However, she’s not the one that I got to dance with. This is the one. Hey Cap’n, what would your sainted wife say?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Long Knives Come Out

The US men's hockey team is done, losing to Finland 4-3.

From the article, it looks as if the second-guessing has already begun. The lack of practice time together, the arrangements for the Olympics, the team makeup, etc. have all been blamed for the poor showing. Similar criticisms are being made about the women's bronze medal finish.

Personally, I don't think Team USA played that badly. I watched every game but the last one and in every match the US skated well, played good defense, and had decent goaltending. They got plenty of scoring chances and I believe they outshot their opponents in every game they played. They certainly weren't blown out or dominated by anyone.

But they just didn't have any goal scorers, and it showed. It was frustrating to watch shot after shot go wide of an open net, or be blocked in front by the opposing defense. This may have been partly due to the lack of practice time together. Or it may have been that some US players just picked the wrong time to have a scoring slump *cough* Keith Tcachuk *cough*. Whatever the reason, hockey in the Olympics is a faster, higher-scoring game than in the NHL, and if Team USA ever wants to consistently win at the international level they need to get some snipers.

However, the backstabbing at Team USA headquarters will be nothing compared to the bloodbath at Team Canada's office. The Canadians, who have dominated international hockey since the 2002 Olympics, were shut out in three of the games they played. They were shut out by Russia in the quarterfinals, a result that would have been unthinkable just two weeks ago.

I don't really dislike the Canadians, but they deserved it. The arrogance around them was so thick you could cut it with a knife. I think most of them expected that this tournament would be a cakewalk, like the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, and they could just show up and everyone would step out of the way. The Canadian women won, but in the stratified world of women's hockey that is a given. It's too bad the women couldn't also get their comeuppance so they would approach the 2010 Olympics with some humility.

Hopefully, USA Hockey will start planning carefully and get their ducks in a row for the next Olympics. It means getting some fresh talent, learning from their mistakes, and being better organized the next time around. It would do my old heart good to see Team USA -- both women and men -- beat Team Canada in Vancouver for the Gold Medal.

Payback for the E Center Debacle and their Magic Loonie.

El-ahrairah's Iraqi Weather Report

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

Here’s a photo of what the place looks like when it rains. And they call this a desert.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

El-ahrairah's Iraqi Diary, Page Four

(Posted from an e-mail at his request. Spelling and grammatical errors are his, not mine. -- CH)

Here is yet another installment of The Great El-ahrairah’s Excellent Iraqi Adventure. Since the last time, the rain comes and goes and so do the mortar attacks, but that’s about all. When the sun comes out, it can get rather balmy during the daytime and make you think that spring is just around the corner.

Here’s an update on the French “Ship O’ Death”. Since my last post, the Clemenceau has passed thru the SuezCanal. However, it cannot enter Indian territorial waters before 13 February. Greenpeace has been challenged by someone to “put their money where their mouth is” and actually prove their “doom and gloom” claims about cancer and workers in the Indian shipyard and in their defense, Greenpeace now says that they don’t what to close the shipyard, just clean it up. Indian shipyards fear that the controversy over the Clemenceau will hurt their business due to a tightening of environmental regulations. And finally, the French have now offered to take back any toxic waste that remains after the ship is dismantled. Like I said in my earlier post, just sink the ship and be done with it. If France is worried about environmental fallout, etc., they can sink it at Moruroa atoll. If you will remember, Moruroa atoll is where France performed a large number of nuclear tests so the area is already contaminated by nuclear fallout and a few more tons of asbestos isn’t going to make any difference one way or the other. The added bonus of sinking the Clemenceau there would be that Greenpeace wouldn’t be too keen about showing up to protest since the French wouldn’t think twice about “accidentally” sinking the Rainbow Warrior again.

Before I close out this installment of my Iraqi Diary, I’ll give my prediction for Super Bowl XL (extra large?): Steelers by two touchdowns over the Seahawks. I’ll have to stay up all night to watch the game since it starts at 2:00 AM here, but at least we’ll have free pizza (I’m buying. I lost a bet). So, GO STEELERS!!!

(Okay, yeah I know I should have posted this earlier. He did pick the winning team, though. -- CH)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Coming this week: El-ahrairahpalooza!

Because I have been so busy/lazy over the past couple of weeks, I didn't check one of my e-mail accounts. When I logged in yesterday, there were a whole bunch of posts and even some pictures that El-ahrairah had sent to me for posting. So every day for the rest of the week, this blog will be all El-ahrairah, all the time.

Photo Ice-fishing blogging: Strawberry Reservoir

Went fishing today up at Strawberry Reservoir, about 50 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. Not a bad day overall, but it was very cold to begin with, and warmed up only enough to not be uncomfortable.

As proof, here's the thermometer on my day pack. As you can see, it's registering just a bit above zero. And the only reason it's above zero is because the sun is shining on it.

Here's a well-bundled Captain Holly, holding a 17-inch cutthroat trout in his very cold hands. I caught only three all day but they were all between 16 and 20 inches long. Very beautiful fish.

The sun came out and warmed things up, but a few snow squalls created whiteout conditions where we were. It was so bad that one of my fishing buddies jokingly asked if I had a compass in case we couldn't tell where the car was parked.


Sunday, February 19, 2006


The US Men's hockey team lost another close, tight-checking game today to Sweden, 2-1.

Combine that with yesterday's loss to Slovakia by the same score and you get a frustrating Olympic tournament so far for the Americans. They're not playing badly; on the contrary, they're skating well, playing good defense and getting great scoring chances. But the puck's just not going into the net for them.

Still, thanks to that good defense they probably will make the medal round. Because Latvia has been trounced by Slovakia and now Russia and has allowed plenty of goals, the US will get the nod because of a better goal differential (unless the Russians score like 10 goals on them Tuesday). Once in the medal round, anything's possible. If they can continue to play good defense and score goals, then they might go somewhere.

The men's team isn't doing as badly as the women's team. The men weren't favored to do anything; the US women were supposed to play for the gold medal against Canada tomorrow. Now they might be lucky to get the bronze. I think they started reading their press clippings and figured that Sweden would be a pushover. Pride goeth before a fall and all that.

And on the subject of arrogant and overconfident hockey teams, I note that mighty Canada lost again today. Excuse me while I indulge in a bit of schaudenfreude at the expense of our northern neighbors, but they deserve this. They came to Torino expecting everyone to just give the gold medal to them and when the other teams gave them a taste of their own medicine instead all they could do is whine.

(Oh, and Canada, if you think everyone hates you and is out to get you, welcome to America's world. We get this kind of abuse 24/7. Incidentally, alot of it comes from you, or at least it did when the Liberals ran the country. Maybe the Tories will be better.)

So, my predictions must be modified. Based on how they're currently playing I doubt anyone can stop the Finns and the Slovaks. The Russians are kicking butt; the US will be their next victim. Unless Canada suddenly stops whining and starts playing hockey the Finns will beat the Slovaks for the gold and the US will trounce the Russians for the bronze (hey, I can dream, can't I?).

We'll see how things go next week. I'm going ice fishing tomorrow.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Important Blogging Annoucement

There are going to be some changes to The Warren. Captain Holly is leaving blogging.

Well, sort of. As anyone who has read The Warren lately can tell, I haven't been blogging much lately. It's largely due to my having many other commitments; when I do have spare time, there's so many other things I'd rather do. Blogging has become a kind of burden, not a fun hobby; something I feel obligated to do, rather than something I want to do.

For example, I wanted to post my predictions of the Olympic hockey tournament several days ago but I was too busy to get around to it. I often see and read things I'd like to blog about but when I finally get around to doing it, they're no longer relevant.

And it's not just with this blog. I have several fora and weblogs I follow and comment on regularly; lately I haven't been able to keep up with half of them. My "daily reads" are down to just a handful of blogs and news sites. I'm slowly evolving away from being a "thinker" to more of a "linker".

So, in keeping with this general evolution, The Warren will become more of a personal interest than a political commentary blog, at least as far as I am concerned. I'll do more photoblogging of things like fishing and hiking and hunting, and less pontificating and ranting. And I plan to post as much gun p0rn as I can get away with. But other than an occasional rant here or there, I'm no longer going to be a regular-blogging political pundit.

I've just got so many other things I'd rather do.

This is much better

The US men's hockey team played up to their potential today, beating Kazakhstan 4-1. It wasn't pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but it was much better than yesterday.

And speaking of a highly-rated team being beaten by a lesser one with a hot NHL goalie, Switzerland beat the powerful Czech team in the biggest upset of the Olympics so far. Another suprise today was the Russians wiping the ice with the favored Swedes.

While it would have been better to beat Latvia, the US is still in a good position after their first two games. All they need to do is win one of their last three and they've reached the medal round; a tie will do if Latvia doesn't beat anyone other than Kazakhstan. Considering how weak both Russia and Sweden have looked at times so far, it would appear that Slovakia is the team to beat in Pool B. I still think the US can win at least two of their next three games; one win is a pretty safe bet, especially if they continue to improve.

We'll see after this weekend.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

At least we didn't lose

In the opening game of the Olympic men's hockey competition, the favored US team could only manage a 3-3 tie with Lativa.

Men's hockey is far more competitive than women's hockey. In the women's competition, the winner of the US-Canada game will win the gold, and every one else will play for bronze. In the men's, although Canada is the favorite any one of the top 7 teams (Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden, Slovakia, and the US) could get hot and win it all, and every one of them has a realistic chance at winning at least the bronze.

The US team has barely had time to practice together and it showed. They came out hot at first but slowed down in the second period. The Latvian goalie (a former NHLer) kept them in the game, and they took advantage of the US listlessness. The Latvians played much better than their seeding, and could pull of some more upsets in this tournament.

The US has a favorable early schedule. Although Latvia was supposed to be an easy victory, at least they didn't lose. With another easy game against Kazakhstan tomorrow, they should earn a win and a tie before being able to rest for a day in advance of the first real test against Slovakia on Saturday.

I always have high hopes for US hockey, but historically they don't do very well in Olympic games outside the US. If they can play the way they did in the first period of today's game for a full 60 minutes, then there's no reason they couldn't win a medal, possibly even a gold. But if they play like they did in the second period, they'll be lucky to finish in the top 6.

I predict they'll have a record of 3-1-1 and finish 2nd in their pool. They should beat Kazakhstan tomorrow easily. Slovakia will be harder, but the US has always played well against them and this year should be no exception. The US has also had Russia's number lately, so with the Russians not playing that well so far the US should be able to beat them, too. The real test will be against Sweden, and I simply can't see them beating a Swede team that is playing well.

In the medal round, it will be a tough game against Finland, the team that should finish 3rd in pool A. After that, though, comes Canada in the semifinals. Although I'd love to see the US beat them, I'm not sure they'll be able to. They'll have to beat a good Czech team for the bronze, which I believe is entirely possible.

So there you have it. Captain Holly predicts Gold for US women, Bronze for the men. We'll see how close I got it in a couple of weeks.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Rule #1: Always identify your target

As much as I like the Vice-President, he's mostly to blame in this incident.

You always make sure of your target before you shoot.

Things that make you go "Hmmmm"

I was reading the news today, and this passage from a story about the string of church fires in rural Alabama caused me to pause and irresponsibly speculate about the motives of the arsonists:

A federal investigator said witness reports and behavioral profilers led authorities to believe that two white men were responsible for the fires. Witnesses said they saw two men in a sport utility vehicle near a number of the fires.

"They're not youths or teens. It's probably someone in their 20s or 30s. We believe they're pretty much inseparable. They're something like bosom buddies," said Eric Kehn, a spokesman for the federal Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agency. (emphasis added)

Two-to-one says they're gay activists. Even money says the MainStreamMedia will ignore that fact when they're caught.

Better than even money says that Andrew Sullivan will find a way to blame President Bush.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Techincal difficulties

El-ahrairah says the Air Force is blocking access to The Warren. I've noticed it's been down lately; I wonder if they're related.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Spontaneous Blogging Break Continuing

I'm still taking some time off. Not because I don't have anything to say, but because there's just so much to do here.

I doubt anyone out there really minds too much. Which, incidentally, is why we don't run blogads or make a serious effort to get linked by other sites. This website is just a hobby for us; although it's nice to have people read us we'd still blog even if nobody bothered to drop by. I personally like having an obligation-free blog. I can leave and come back whenever it suits me.

So until then, or until El-ahrairah gets motivated enough to write anything, we'll still be on hiatus.