Thursday, April 28, 2005

Wringing out the news

This morning on my (much longer than normal) morning commute to the slug lot, I figured I'd check out the liberal take on the news of the day. As usual, NPR did not disappoint. First was a story about how many folks start smoking in college. Um, duh? Thanks to the former marijuana munching marxist matriculatees who have never escaped from the university (tenure, anyone?), the ideal of the 'college experience' as a time of rebellion and experimentation is alive and well. But I digress. The twist to this 'health story' was that, get this, people are different and some have a harder time quitting than others! Even stranger, men and women start smoking for different reasons, and physiologically react differently to nicotine, meaning that they have different addiction patterns. Any time 'experts discover' that there are differences between men and women, I marvel that anyone is considered an expert who is just now discovering what most of us 'discovered' right around puberty.

The next interesting squeeze came from the news at the top of the hour. After three months of 'stalemate' the new Iraqi government was announced, though many of the top positions remain unfilled. That right there made me wonder, since it has technically been less than three months since the elections were held, and then there was the time needed to count the votes, the time needed to begin to form coalitions… I seem to remember the from my history books that this country took a bit longer than three months, or even three years, to really form. But, while I was still figuratively scratching my head over that one, the next statement really made me wonder who is doing the writing for NPR these days. "The announcement marks the first elected government since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by US forces two years ago." I know that there was an 'election' in Iraq where Saddam got about 99% of the vote, but I was not aware that anyone this side of the Ba'athist party considered it legit. Except, apparently, NPR.

Then there was the 'anniversary' piece about how this date marks the 30 year anniversary of the 'end of the Vietnam war' and 'one year ago today, television viewers got their first look at photos of the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal. Questions still remain about who was responsible for the abuse." Note the obligatory connection between Vietnam and Iraq, though it is really a stretch here. "Television viewers"? The abuse happened months earlier, the investigation had been announced publicly months earlier, but the anniversary was about 'television viewers'. Then there is the issue of passive voice. "Questions still remain…" Of course, that could truthfully be said about any event or fact. "Questions still remain about the roundness of the earth…" by the flat earth society. Sloppy, sloppy. Though, in their defense, NPR never uses this journalistic sleight of hand when dealing with evolution, which is, of course, a well established fact. Or a 'woman's right to choose', which is only 'attacked' by 'religious conservatives'.

The final interesting bit was about a bird once thought extinct: the ivory-billed woodpecker. Now, I have nothing against Woody, but to spend five minutes on grown men saying that they would 'fall to their knees and weep' if they were to catch but a glimpse of this elusive critter makes me wonder why this 'audio postcard' merited the prime 7:05 to 7:10 slot on the morning news. But I didn't have much time to ponder, since by then I was at Tackett's Mill, and off for a long, slow ride to the Pentagon, allowing me to read another 2 chapters of Lynne Olson's excellent book, A Question of Honor.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Cherry Blossoms  Posted by Hello
For when you really need some comfort... Posted by Hello
Yard Sale Posted by Hello
2 "Q"t Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Mommy has a question for you

Kids. JB is 28 months, and getting more interesting day by day.

Take today, for instance. Over dinner, a delicious meal of salmon, salad and broccoli, we were discussing selling the house and all other things important. JB must have gotten bored with the conversation, so he asked to be excused. I had tossed an empty salad dressing bottle at the trash but missed, so I told JB to get it and put it in. As he was doing so, Tamsey asked him something, which is now lost to history. The reason for this tragedy is that as she asked him, he was busy with the chore his dad had laid upon his youthful back and he failed to respond. As soon as the offending salad dressing bottle was safely disposed of, I said, “JB, your mother has a question for you.” His response was to march over to Tamsey and say, “Question, please?” Tamsey asked, but, undeterred by this attempted deflection, JB proceeded to ask for a question again, this time with and exaggerated “Pleeease!”

I couldn’t resist. I got a piece of kosher candy from the top of the fridge (we had it left over from the seder) and handed it to him. He dutifully said “Thank you” and tore off on whatever toddler mission he had discovered. The best part was that he was back a few minutes later, straining at the top of his small tippy toes, trying to climb the fridge saying, “Question, please!” Yeah, I was in trouble for, as Tamsey says, “confusing the poor kid”, but it was worth it! Boy, was it worth it. I suppose someday he’ll figure it out, but for now it is my little payback for the constant barrage of questions he fires at me, from the time I get home in the evening. Like right now, for instance, he is standing here asking if “Goria get in pack-ack? I want to ride in pack-ack” I guess it is time to get my hiking boots on and take the cutest kids in the world for an evening hike. It is the least I can do after convincing him that “Mommy has a question” is a statement loaded with dreams of sugar

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

What did AIG do?

So, last night I was flipping through radio stations, trying for a little news on the way home from the parking lot. 10 minutes isn't a lot of time, so I get snippets from several stations and then pick the interesting one. Last night it was 'Marketplace' on NPR. Despite the insidious left-wing bent, sometimes I pick up useful stuff from them. Heck, I read Al-Jazeera and the New York Times daily, too. Anyway, it was an interesting segment on how the great liberal financier and guru Buffet was exonerated during the hearings, but that that eeevil Greenberg was going down. In fact, Greenberg was probably going to take the fifth, further evidence of his malfeasance. Hmmm…I thought that wasn't quite the way that was supposed to work. But before I had time to ponder that, the conversation changed to the nuts and bolts of what AIG did.

Basically, as the expert explained it, AIG created an entity which they then paid some current receipts to in a re-insurance scheme, borrowing the money back in order to make it look like they had higher reserves than they actually did. Thus they were able to 'plow more money' into dividends and profits, making the company look more financially sound than it was.

Ah, the criminals! Only Congress is allowed to engage in that kind of activity, and they call it 'Social Security', not 'insurance'.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Springtime in DC

Once again, a fine day is nearly done, and I have not written in my blog. But I have a good reason! The cherry blossoms are in bloom, so yesterday and today I went for nice long runs though downtown DC to enjoy the smells and sights of spring. Of course, my legs are begging for a break, with 12 miles in two days being a bit more than they are used to. It always takes a couple of years for me to find the best in an area, which means that just as I am learning to enjoy a place, I move. Oh well.

In another sign of spring, I am desperately trying to get the mud patches in the back yard to become patches of lawn. I wonder how much Astroturf costs…? And then I wouldn't have to mow it!

Yesterday was warm. How warm? Well, some of my mead became active again and launched a cork across the room. The strong, sweet yeast smell that greeted me when I went downstairs to check on the wireless router told me of the disaster. So I bottled the Concord mead, and put the other (plain) mead back in the carboy for a fine finishing. Which brings me to the topic of the router. Who would have thought that the router and cable modem have the same size plug but different voltage requirements? Not I…and now I know what happens when you plug a 12V cable modem power cord into a 5V wireless router: you enjoy the wonderful acrid aroma of toasted electronics and a trip to Wal-Mart for a cut rate router to use until the 802.11n standard is out. Unfortunately, I am still router-less because the Wal-Mart one was missing its power cord, and was the last one on the shelf. What is it with power cords?

We are working toward selling the house, which means that we have rented a storage shed and bought about $500 worth of containers from, you guessed it, Wal-Mart. With the yard sale this Saturday, I hope the house will feel empty and ready to 'red-up' and sell. Hmmm….Looks like I have to get back to work, so the trip report will have to wait. Oh, but there is one more thing:

Usually the WSJ has pretty sensible writers, even if they do lean left (except for the editorial page, which is right). However, on the front page of section D yesterday there was this quote

The rules effectively mean that border crossings to or from Canada and Mexico would now be treated just like travel to or from other countries.
You know, call me silly, but I learned in school that, despite physical proximity, Canada and Mexico actually are "other countries". Oh well, learn something new every day.

Lastly, I have some good news to report! With only a few months left here at the Pentagon, I got a LOCKER AT THE POAC (aka, the gym). This may not seem like a big deal to you. After all, it is about 12 inches high by 8 inches wide, and almost holds a pair of shoes. But I have been on the waiting list for about 2 years, so I am going to enjoy it to the utmost. I am scheming to fill it with all the luxuries of a sweaty locker room: flip-flops, deodorant, hair brush and extra socks. Life is good!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Irony of the Day

So, I went to the post office to get stamps for my hunting license applications. I had to chuckle when I went to put the stamp on my deer license. The lady at the counter had handed me a quad of Disney commemorative stamps, and, you guessed it, Bambi ended up on my deer tag request.

Vacation was great, and when I get caught up with work, I'll write more about shooting turtles, spaying cats, pulling trucks out of the mud and other things that might mean I am a redneck.