Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Man on Fire

Liked it. Reminding me some of Traffic and a little of Proof of Life, I was impressed by Man on Fire and the character of Creasy played by Denzel Washington. However, I like Denzel so sometimes characters like Creasy in this movie are difficult for him in my book because of the ingrained confidence I have in his personality. With a voice and a smile like Denzel's, sometimes it is hard for him to truly seem down and out.

This movie is certainly not for the faint of heart as the violence portrayed is pretty harsh. However the role played by the little girl, Dakota Fanning as "Pita," did give the movie a light side at times. The cinematography was interesting and combined with the setting in Mexico gave the movie some of the feel that Traffic conveys. Interestingly, the image that both give of Mexico is that a corrupt society from top to bottom. I've never been to Mexico, but I imagine that these are the very worst of a country that must have some good sides.

Poll revisited

Apparently everyone's favorite liberal 527 didn't read my blog on poll results. See their ad in today's NYT. The most ludicrous part of this ad is the claim that someone being an evangelical Christian countermands one's ability to publish poll results.

Friday, September 24, 2004


Poll. n.

Definition #1 (Beginning of time to August 2004): a survey of the public or of a sample of public opinion to acquire information. If done properly, results supposedly accurate to plus or minus 3%.

Definition #2 (September 2004 to ________): a completely illogical collection of numbers that might reflect some opinions but cannot be trusted to represent the population as a whole since polling data is obviously just a predictor and has little if any factual content.

When it was Kerry 47% and Bush 46% these polls were apparently healthy.
Now that it is Bush 55% and Kerry 42% these polls have more holes that swiss cheese.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


Insurgents are, by definition, those who are rising in revolt against the established authority. "Insurgents" connotes oppression and a governing authority that is unjust. "Insurgents" implies that those who are rebelling are nationals of the country in which they are staging an uprising and thus have a right to stand up for themselves. As we have all seen, "insurgents" has been the most popular term in the media for those who fight against the coalition troops in Iraq or perform terrorist acts there. (See also, "rebels" for the Muslim radicals in Russia.)

Soon the term is going to be applied in the United States. Soon the media will designate terrorist acts simply as Americans acting as insurgents against a government with which they disagree. Homeland Security can hunt down terrorists, but what about insurgents? Surely insurgents have the right to make their beliefs and opinions known. And if we aren't listening, then they'll have to blow something up. This is included in freedom of speech isn't it?

The lines are gray in an unprecedented war against an enemy that doesn't wear a uniform or fight under a national government. The protrayal of those who take lives and those who take hostages and behead them as people who are just trying to throw off an oppressive military labeled "occupiers" instead of "liberators" makes the issue even less defined. The notion that America somehow deserves everything bad that occurs is horribly distorted propaganda from a U.S. media as well as a world that is uncomfortable with one superpower and even further unable to comprehend the altruistic intentions of the U.S. and its allies.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Red Tape Democracy

Red Tape. n. The collection or sequence of forms and procedures required to gain bureaucratic approval for something, especially when oppressively complex and time-consuming.

Democracy. n. Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.

While this article in the Christian Science Monitor laments the path that Russia may be taking in its dealing with terrorism, the measures that Putin's Russia seems prepared to implement may be the answer. Another article shows how quickly the Russians have turned to a country that knows how to deal with terrorism, Israel.

For many Russians, there has to be a sense of security in the way things used to be. While freedoms were exactly heralded with the Soviet Union, there was a consistency that has been eroded in an age where Islamic terrorists believe they can manipulate the Russian government with brutal acts.

If only America could act with such swiftness. "But our freedoms" has been the cry since 9/11 with such a volume that our attempts to catch up to where we need to be on the war against terror have proved difficult. No racial profiling in airports. Due process for everyone, by all means. Treat war prisoners like royalty, please. Terrorists have rights too, you know.

One of the most interesting 'non-topics' in the mainstream media the past year has been the success of Israel's dividing wall. The few stories that I have heard or seen about the wall have all been about the injustice of building it and the UN demanding that it be torn down. Few want to admit the truth:

The truth is that despite the ugliness of Israel's wall, it has reduced
Palestinian extremist suicide bombings.

Of course there are a lot of reasons that the Russians would not turn to the United States for help in the war on terror, but among the reasons is that the United States has done little internally. While Russian may emulate America's Bush Doctrine of seeking out and destroying terrorists wherever they hide, it is Israel that Russia is turning to for help and advice on internal security. So should America.

35 ft waves. If you're a weather junkie like myself, check out the National Data Buoy Center but be forewarned that they have posted that they may go off-line at some point in the storm. Basically, you can see weather reports from the buoys positioned all over the world (and especially in the northern Gulf of Mexico.)
The large, rotating, tropical event has become due North, but its predicted movement has slowed down as it pertains to central Alabama/Birmingham.

This from Accuweather:

Heavy rainfall of 10-15 inches is expected over parts of southeast Louisiana,
eastern Mississippi and southern and central Alabama tonight by Friday morning.
Heavy rainfall is also expected over northern Alabama, eastern Tennessee and
northern Georgia tomorrow night into the weekend. Current computer projections
suggest the remnant low of Ivan might stall over southeast Tennessee this
weekend. That could lead to catastrophic rainfall over parts of the southern
Appalachian mountains extending into the western Carolinas.

Ivan - 7am CDT Wednesday

The sun is up but there are dark clouds on the horizon that are swirling in from the east/southeast. According to this the projected path seems to have shifted slightly more West than last night. As of 7am, the storm was still moving NNW, which is bad, bad news for New Orleans but the experts are still predicting "the turn" at any time.

As for Birmingham, traffice on I-65 was reportedly very heavy last night, motel rooms were being grabbed, there are no generators at the big stores, and the city is planning to issue an evacuation for low-lying areas later Wednesday afternoon if needed. Interestingly, all the city's high school football games were axed last night (Tuesday). What if Ivan doesn't come?

As for Birmingham, Jim Cantore last night was talking about the evacuation and mentioned that he would go further North than Birmingham. The local meteorologists are calling for potentially hurricane-force winds here in the low category-1 type if the eye tracks this way.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Ivan and Birmingham

Here is what Birmingham can expect if the storm tracks this way.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Ivan the Terrible

I personally find this chart more interesting than the cone-shaped prediction that the meteorologists love to flash up on the screen as they spit out a disclaimer about where and when the hurrican might really strike. Are these numbers from the boys in Vegas? What's the over/under for Mobile, AL?

Since one hurricane back in 19__ happened to go on some random path, how in the world does that information help us now? The way I see it, Ivan has an equal chance of hitting Brownsville, TX, Panama City, FL, or Cleveland, OH.

Saturday, September 11, 2004


This slideshow is a tough reminder. (With broadband it took over 5 min to download.)

He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.
"Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

-Psalm 46:9-11

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Alabama Government to Take Action: Terrorism? No. Poverty? No. The obvious conspiracy by the NCAA which is out to get the University of Alabama? Why, yes.


Sim = Simulated

I vote that we chop off all longer words in favor of the shorter versions.

Glenn Reynolds' column on The Sims probes whether or not the game teaches us something about life.

If it does, then maybe I'm prepared to be a city planner as per my time spent with Sim City!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


Republic. n. 2a. A political order in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who are entitled to vote for officers and representatives responsible to them.

There are many debates out there about the meaning of 'republic' versus the meaning of 'democracy' and which our nation has become today. Some cite the change in electing senators in 1911 to a transition for the USA from a historically-defined republic to a democracy. The problem in evaluating these terms throughout our history is that they tend to be altered by each generation to fit its own paradigm.

The definitions offered at the RNC were equally interesting. First Arnold Schwarzenegger's speech opened the gates to make the Republican Party widely inclusive and welcoming. Then Zell Miller's speech and all of his interviews have repeatedly defined what the Democratic Party used to be but is no longer. While few would claim that their party names would directly tie them to historical understandings of 'Republic' and 'Democracy,' there are deeply interesting differences between the emphases that show links to today's bipartisan politics. Republicans are not necessarily those for a republic and against a democracy and vice-versa for the Dems.

As George Washington left office, his charge to the country included two words of advice:
1. Avoid political parties
2. Avoid foreign affairs

While these hardly seem possible today, our country has gotten lost in the politics of partisanship to the extent that democracy is at stake. When the talking heads of a political party establish the platform that they would choose to run on and then expect the party's constituency to follow them, the process has fallen on its head, mortally wounded.

Take the 1904 election for example: the key issues were the gold standard, the rights of laborers, the independence of the Philippines, and the problem of monopolies. The two candidates, Roosevelt and Parker, basically agreed on the issues. The voters elected Roosevelt based largely on his personality (though in an age without the communications technology we have today, the average person would have had little knowledge of either's personal traits.)

In 2004 the predominant approach seems to be one of running on a platform that is clearly contrasted with the platform of the incumbent party and one that would also appeal to voters. The platform has to be original and marketable. The platform does not need to make sense or be true to the party's past, but must merely be drastic enough to promote a change from the current administration. If the incumbent party is in favor of putting green carpet in the White House, you must denounce green carpet and the color green itself while insisting that the only proper color for the White House carpet is red. Then sell your voters on the idea. Never, ever, under any circumstances, ask the public.

And they wonder why voter turn-out has been poor.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Labor Day

In 1882, Peter J. McGuire, a leader of the labor union the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners (joiner being "a craftsman who constructs things by joining pieces of wood" or "a worker in wood who does more ornamental work than a carpenter") proposed a day to honor laborers. Laborers were considered a new class that worked in the factories and plants created by the Industrial Revolution. Labor Day became a national holiday on which workers in the 1890s and early 20th century used to call attention to their grievances. There were often parades, political speeches, fireworks, and a picnic.
Today, Labor Day, celebrated on the first Monday in September (as of 1894, by law), simply honors anyone who works. The date has no traditional or historic significance but was picked because it filled a gap in the schedule of legal holidays. Canada also celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday in September; many other countries observe this on May 1.
The word labor comes from Latin laborem, "distress, toil trouble; drudgery, labor," and first referred to work that was compulsory or painful. The meaning changed with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. The first labor unions or trade unions came with the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain in the 18th century.

- from Dictionary.com

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Jiffy Market

Jiffy Market. n. 1. Instant analysis of the stock market as to the reason(s) for ups and downs. Reasons include but are not limited to: Battles raging, oil prices, Alan Greenspan, the dollar versus the Euro or the Yen, weather phenomena, the price of eggs in China.
2. A quick-service store selling gas, groceries, and beverages where I used to buy baseball cards or just bubble gum as a kid.

How is it that the Dow and the Nasdaq can be explained at their close in a 10-second segment on CNN/FOX/MSNBC which includes exactly four reasons that the market either saw increases or decreases today? Stock trading must be pretty simple.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


Resolve. n. Fixity of purpose.

Does Russia now negotiate with terrorists, now that this is a new level of evil in our world with the specific lives of children at stake?


Every bone in Putin's body right now must be trying to come up with a way out of this scenario, but negotiating with terrorists will not be a winning decision in the long run, even if it saves all or some of the lives at stake at this school in Russia. Taking the road that Spain and the Philippines have taken will not bring future success. France has tried to appease, and now terrorists are holding French journalists with demands (if they're still alive.)

Is America ready for this? Will our resolve hold steady when it's a perfect little elementary school outside of Boston? Will we want to negotiate? Absolutely - every person would want to make the situation come out as positive as possible. But the decision has to already be in place - the decision to cave to no demand, no negotiation, no way. If the war on terrorism is going to be won, it is going to be won by a world with the kind of resolve that says "ABSOLUTELY NOT!"

If these terrorists blow up this school or shoot these children(and we're all praying that they don't), there are going to be people who criticize Russia for not doing more to "fix" the situation. Just like those who have tried to find fault with America for 9/11. Who is to blame? The terrorists.