Friday, November 30, 2007

Not all reactions can be intelligent

Now that everyone is safe in Rochester, NH, let's look around to see what kind of silliness the situation created. First, let's look at the people who are supposed to keep us informed. Kos diarist GenWhy caught this one early in the crisis. This is Mike Memoli on MSNBC.
As people- they are concerned about terrorism nationally; but they never think it’s going to happen in their back yard. But here- not that this is terrorism, of course; this is a domestic situation. But people don’t expect this kind of- you know- crime, or any sort of situation here.

It's not terrorism unless it's a swarthy foreigner.

MSNBC appears to keep it's best intellectual talent on the day shift. Media Matters caught Patty Culhane with this extended waste of oxygen.
And that's going to be an interesting political dilemma for Senator Clinton. Because, as you know, the policy of this country is that they do not negotiate with terrorists. And so the question is going to be, does she pick up the phone, does she engage in dialogue with this person, or does she let the police and the FBI handle it?

Obviously, just speaking with someone doesn't necessarily mean that they're negotiating, but if this person wants to speak directly to Senator Clinton, that puts her in a very tough political position that people will be judging her on. Does she pick up the phone, does she make that call to try and help her campaign staffers?

Americans want the kind of leaders who would have ignored the police and the FBI, gone in there, and personally wrestled the hostage-taker to the ground while making wisecracks.

I've already mentioned the trolls over at ABC. They have now been joined by concern trolls.
I was leaning toward Sen. Clinton. But this incident raises disturbing questions. if this candidate cannot provide security for her own campaign workers, how can we expect her to provide security for America? Based on this incident, perhaps Clinton should consider withdrawing her candidacy for President.
Posted by:

Who thinks larryrowbelt was really planning on voting for Hillary? Who believes in the Easter Bunny? Hmmm. Same crowd.

Gavin at Sadly, No! checked on the Freepers so we wouldn't have to. Their reaction is pretty much what you would expect.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if some rabid Clinton supporter pushed some whack job to do this”

I think you’re right. My friends and are at work are saying that if it’s a plant, they most likely threatened him to release photos or some such, and promised him he’d be okay. In real life, I think this guy will have to end up having his brains blown out. You watch. He won’t be allowed to live. Mark my words. They couldn’t leave him alive to talk. He will be dead soon.

1,123 posted on 11/30/2007 1:05:11 PM PST by sulu

Add your favorites to the comments. Maybe we can have a contest for the most deranged reaction.

Hostage Situation at Clinton HQ (Updated)

A man believed to be carrying a bomb has taken over the headquarters of the Clinton campaign in Rochester, New Hampshire. Police have surrounded the office. No word yet on who he is or what he wants. Clinton has canceled appearances in Washington to monitor the situation. It's too early to speculate about any political meaning, not that that will stop some people.

Update: WNBC-TV is reporting that the man wants to speak with Clinton, which implies that this is political and not a random attention seeking nut.

Update 2: Police are in contact with the hostage taker, who they describe as "a well-known local resident with a history of emotional problems who told his son to 'watch the news today.'"

Meanwhile, the trolls are demonstrating their sensitivity over at ABC:
No doubt Hillary will call this a part of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" and try to use it to scare up support for herself. That's how she did things when she was First Lady. The only thing that matters to a Clinton is his or her own personal needs and wants. They don't concern themselves with the downstream consequences of their decisions.
Posted by:

wake up hillary's behind the hole thing.
Posted by:
william f. e

Well this is going to definitely give her more notorierity. Now no one can say they haven't heard of her. LOL
Posted by:

Update 3: It's over. Leeland Eisenberg surrendered to police in Rochester, N.H. after a six hour standoff. His son told the police that his father had been drinking and that the "bomb" was just road flares and duct tape. Still no word what Eisenberg wanted to say, but he has a history of bizzare behavior including stalking and paranoid ranting. Personally, I think he was kidnapped by Satanists and brainwashed.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Don't count Edwards out yet

According to a new Rasmussen poll, it's possible that Edwards might win the Iowa caucuses. It's all due to a quirk in how caucuses work as opposed to primaries. In a caucus multiple votes are held to apportion the delegates. After the first vote, they eliminate the lowest vote getters and vote again until everyone is above a certain threshold (usually 15 percent). While Clinton, Obama, and Edwards are essentially tied for first, Edwards is the overwhelming favorite for second choice. That means Clinton, Obama, and Edwards all pass the first round with about the same number of delegates and Edwards scoops up all of the leftover Biden, Dodd, and Richardson delegates in the second round. I think the Clinton people figured this out a few days ago; they were saying that second place in Iowa was just fine with them. The press frenzy over Edwards winning first place in Iowa would be worth millions in free publicity for him going into the next few primaries.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

When Google Ads go bad

Most of the companies that sell ads on blogs place the ads by using an algorithm that picks key words out of the blog posts and matches them to key words for the ads. In politics, this can lead to unintentionally bad matches. A post saying Ann Coulter is an evil idiot will be matched to a site that wants to sell you Ann Coulter's books. Even worse matches happen when some shopping sites use an algorithm that simply inserts your key words into a phrase and offers to sell you something related to your noun or adjective, like racist ringtones.

These ads were generated by Ads by Google on a post by Amanda about the shame of Seattle, The Discovery Institute, naming culture warrior, and occasional slavery apologist, Michael Medved as a senior fellow.

On consideration, I kind of like the idea of racist ringtones. They could perform a valuable public service. Whenever I heard someone's pocket vibrate and start shouting "The Negroes are coming! Hide the white women!" I would know to get as far as possible from that person, and so would everyone else.

Insurgents threaten oil tankers

A device designed to sink ships was found outside Philadelphia, near an oil terminal on the Delaware River. Terrorists? Yes and no. The device was put there by Ben Franklin and the Continental Army to stop the British navy in 1775. If the word had been in common use in those days, the royal government probably would have called Ben Franklin a terrorist. The device, called a cheval-de-frise, is essentially a log sized spear with an iron tip set in the river bottom to puncture unwary ships. Rebel ships would have known the path through the defenses. Most of the chevals were removed in 1784, but this one was missed and has quietly sat in the mud, like a forgotten landmine, endangering river traffic ever since. Sunoco Logistics, who manages the oil terminal, located the cheval with sonar during a routine survey. They have donated it to a local museum.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Houston police ahead in arms race

The Houston Police Department has been caught conducting secret tests of an unmanned aircraft similar to the surveillance drones used by the military and border patrol. Farmers and ranchers west of the city noticed mysterious black vans and unannounced roadblocks and called the local news. Station KPRC sent their traffic helicopter out and got some pictures of the drone in flight. When the police contacted the station and told them the airspace was closed, KPRC called their bluff and checked with the Federal Aviation Administration, who told them that there were no restrictions on that area.

The drones give the Houston Police better intelligence gathering capabilities than most European countries enjoy. They are being rather coy about what they actually plan to use the drones to do mentioning only "mobility" or traffic issues and unspecified "tactical" uses. Being more stable and having better cameras than current helicopters, the drones could be used for surveillance that fuzzes (no pun intended) the boundaries of permitted warrentless searches. That's an issue that will be fought out in court. Meanwhile, the question most Houstonians should ask is: at $30,000 to $1 million each, do these drones really add to the city's crime fighting capabilities or is the city wasting money on showy toys that could better be spent putting more officers on the streets?

Although the FAA has not yet approved the airworthiness of the drones or their use in urban airspace, the city plans to begin enforcement with them next summer.

Cookin' a turkey

Today Americans celebrate a historical harvest feast on a wildly improbable date and tell historically flattering foundational tales that hide a whole host of crimes. It's also a day famously characterized by gluttony and waste. But, really, so what? Thanksgiving is not about the history for most Americans and, despite the name, it's not a religious holiday for most of us. Thanksgiving is a holiday when we are supposed to get together with our loved ones (presumably that means family for most of us) and have a civilized sit-down meal. Most of us need to do more of that, so we shouldn't feel guilty today.

Clever wife and I are staying home by ourselves today. I'm not sure, but I think this is only the second Thanksgiving that we've spent with just us and the cats. I thought about cooking something non-traditional like salmon, but the fact is, we both really like the basic turkey dinner. When I got to the store the other day and saw that they had small turkeys, the decision was a no-brainer. So I'm roasting a turkey, making wild rice and mushroom stuffing, mashed potatoes, broccoli with cheese sauce, and chocolate pecan pie. We will cover everything except the pie with a generous layer of gravy and wash the meal down with cider and strong coffee laced with whole cream. The dinner alone should have more calories than we take in during three regular days, and that's not counting breakfast and snacking. Today our motto is "eat, drink. and be happy for tomorrow we diet."

Give something to your local foodbank, don't waste the leftovers, and enjoy yourself today.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Nice den for a wolf

Last January I wrote about the possible discovery of the Lupercale, the cave and cult site in ancient Rome where Romulus and Remus were said to have been raised by a wolf. Today, stunning pictures of the mosaics on the grotto ceiling were released by the Italian Ministry of Culture.

So far, no one has entered the sanctuary; all of examinations have been conducted with endoscopes and laser scanners. Much of the grotto is filled with earth and rubble and the original entrance has not yet been located. Irene Iacopi, the archaeologist in charge of the Palatine Hill where the grotto is located, says the team hopes to locate the entrance in new explorations next spring. But even if they do find it, they might not be able to excavate the entrance if it is covered by other valuable ruins. The hill is the oldest part of Rome and hosts, among other things, Rome's first huts from the eighth century BC, a medieval fortress, Renaissance villas, and the Emperor Augustus' palace. These picture might be the closest any of us will get to seeing the site for many years to come.

Punished for their service

If true, this is one of the most disgusting things I've heard in a long time.
The U.S. Military is demanding that thousands of wounded service personnel give back signing bonuses because they are unable to serve out their commitments.

To get people to sign up, the military gives enlistment bonuses up to $30,000 in some cases.

Now men and women who have lost arms, legs, eyesight, hearing and can no longer serve are being ordered to pay some of that money back.

The Pentagon's shabby treatment of the wounded started soon after the war began when it was reported that injured soldiers were having their pay docked to pay for their hospital meals. Since then it has been one thing after another till this. Each time they say "oops, it was a mistake" and then commit the same type of "mistake" again and again. This kind of systemic callousness is the sort of thing that goes to the top and can only be cured by change at the top.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Giuliani Beating McCain in Arizona

According to a new poll, Rudy Giuliani has a slight edge over John McCain in McCain's home state, Arizona. The Behavior Research Center's poll (PDF) shows Giuliani with 20% among Republicans and McCain with 18%. That's all very headline worthy and a very bad narrative for McCain, but the the more interesting message from my perspective is that "None of the above" is handily kicking both of their behinds with 32%. The Republican base just are not fired up about this election.

Meanwhile, Clinton is the clear favorite in the Democratic primary with 44%. Ironically, Clinton-hatred is the one thing that might overcome Republican apathy. All of the Republicans are already running against her with the message "I'm the only one who chan stop the Clintons!" The worst thing we could do to the Republican noise machine would be to nominate Dodd and throw them into confusion.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Rove joins liberal MSM

If you have been worried about Karl Rove's unemployment benefits running out, worry no more. Karl just got a job as one of the liberal media elitists. Newsweek magazine announced yesterday that they have hired Turd Blossom to write opinion pieces on the 2008 election. This balances out their announcement earlier this week that they had hired Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas. There are a lot of writers on both the right and left who are better writers and more insightful than Karl or Kos, but there is no one on either side who is as guaranteed to make the opposition's heads explode on as regular a basis. You can bet each column will send knees jerking across the political spectrum and people racing to the keyboard to blog and send angry letters to the editor.

Whether or not Newsweek did a good job in picking their election opinion writers depends on what they think their job is as a magazine. If is to draw eyeballs to their sponsors' advertisements, they did a great job. If it is to inform the public, they did a mediocre job at best.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Book Report

If you haven't visited in the last week or so you might have missed a new feature here at archy. Take a look over on the left sidebar. Near the top is a little meter labeled "Mammoth Tales progress." This is my attempt to force myself to work on my mammoth book by making a public commitment to produce 12,000 words this month. If I fail, I humiliate myself in front of dozens of people and will never be able to show my face in Blogtopia (and, yes, Skippy coined that term) again. At the end of the first week, I have produced 2078 words, which is a little short of where I should be. Never fear. For me at least, the main difference between fiction and non-fiction writing is the pace. In fiction writing it's possible to develop a disciplined steady pace and write a for a given period each day or produce a quota in words or pages. In non-fiction, working doesn't always mean writing. Research time can easily outnumber writing time by an order of magnitude. Last week I really only wrote on one day and spent the rest researching. This week I expect to write a bit more. Hopefully it will all work out to mean 12,000 words by the end of the month. We'll see.

Meanwhile, I got a pretty cool contract writing job that will pay some bills for the next few weeks. It looks like the kids will be getting new catnip toys this Christmas, after all.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I been tagged!

The Ridger tagged me for the meme of four. It's an old meme, but a good one. Here we go:

4 jobs I have had:

1. Salesclerk in a bookstore
2. Bouncer at a disco
3. Technical Writer
4. Private Librarian

4 movies I love to watch over and over:

1.The Wizard of Oz
2. Blade Runner
3. Casablanca
4. Galaxy Quest

4 places I have lived:

1. Spenard, Alaska
2. Idaho Falls, Idaho
3. Seattle, Washington
4. Spokane, Washington

4 TV shows I enjoy watching:

1. Law and Order reruns
2. CSI (but only the Vegas version)
3. The Daily Show
4. old cartoons

4 places I have been on vacation:

1. Jasper, Banff, Yoho, and Kootenay Parks, Canada
2. Denali (Mt. McKinley National Park), Alaska
3. Riga, Latvia
4. The Oregon coast

4 websites I visit daily:

1. Scienceblogs
2. Bark Bark Woof Woof
3. AmericaBlog
4. Orcinus

4 favorite foods:

1. Chocolate
2. Strong coffee with fresh cream
3. Hot Italian sausage
4. French fries with the skin still on them

4 places I would rather be:

1. San Juan Islands
2. Whistler, British Columbia
3. Powell's Bookstore in Portland
4. Exploring somewhere I've never been

Saturday, November 10, 2007

What a surprise

The multi-national coalition of far right nationalists in the European Parliament has broken up because the members don't like each other.
The European parliament's far-right bloc faces collapse after Romanian MEPs said they would quit over an Italian colleague's "xenophobic" remarks.

Italian MEP Alessandra Mussolini, the grand-daughter of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, reportedly described Romanians as "habitual law-breakers".


The Romanian MEPs' move would take the far-right bloc's membership below the minimum required for a grouping in the parliament.

The Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty (ITS) grouping was created in January, after the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU boosted the number of far-right MEPs in the European parliament.

Who would ever have suspected that this wasn't going to work?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Wait until Bill hears about this

Bill O'Reilly and the Europe hating Christmas warriors over at Fox News are going to blow a gasket when they hear about this.
A German advent calendar for children has become a hot seller since word got out it has a picture of a notorious serial killer on it.

The cartoon calendar shows Fritz Haarmann, who murdered 24 young men and boys in the 1920s, lurking under a tree with a hatchet next to the door for December 1. Below him, Santa Claus hands out presents to children in a festive-looking Hanover.

The calendar, which raises funds for a charity for children with cancer, is based on the theme of local Hanoverian celebrities and also features the philosopher Gottfried Leibniz and the band The Scorpions. Although this is the second year that calendar has featured Haarmann, it is the first time it has enjoyed this kind of notoriety. The sales are primarily due to the national newspaper Bild which published an article questioning whether the killer's inclusion was in good taste. The charity has been getting orders from all over Germany and Austria and expects the print run to sell out soon. f the Fox News gang joins in and condemns it, they might have an international best seller on their hands.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Bush is number one!

For well over a year now, Bush's approval/disapproval ratings have flirted with Nixon's pre-resignation numbers--the worst numbers for any post WWII president. But each time it has looked like he was about to set a new record, he has pulled back from the brink (though never very far back). That's no longer the case. According to the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, Bush has boldly stepped across the Nixon line.
Meanwhile, Bush reached an unwelcome record. By 64%-31%, Americans disapprove of the job he is doing. For the first time in the history of the Gallup Poll, 50% say they "strongly disapprove" of the president. Richard Nixon had reached the previous high, 48%, just before an impeachment inquiry was launched in 1974.

Curiously, while Bush has beaten Nixon's disapproval record, he is still safely above Nixon's approval low. That means more people in the "no opinion/undecided" category during Nixon's last days while everyone has an opinion about Bush. There's still plenty of time for Bush to beat Nixon's other record.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Time to get to work

Since we are going into the holiday bad traffic period for blogging, I think I'll try to spend some time with my mammoth book.

Frau Doktor Stemwedel tells us that November is International acaDemic Writing Month (InaDWriMo). This is the non-fiction counterpart to the much better publicized National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). NaNoWriMo has the goal of actually writing an entire novel in one month. InaDWriMo is a little more forgiving. The goal is simply to make a public commitment and live up to it. So here it is: I'm going to work on my woolly mammoth book. Previously, I had set a goal of a crude draft (that's the stage before a rough draft) by the end of the year. I'm way behind on that goal. So here is my commitment: I'll add 12,000 words to the manuscript this month.

I just put a word meter over on the side to keep track of my progress or add to my public humiliation, whichever might be the situation. In any case, I'm not shutting down the blog. I promise at least one good post each week and a couple of cheap shots, as well as a progress report on the book.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Casting question

This seems a bit out of place:
In the TV movie, “Atlantis SquarePantis,” (8-8:45 p.m.), SpongeBob finds the missing half of an ancient medallion believed to be a relic from the lost city of Atlantis and brings it to the Bikini Bottom Museum where the other half is on display. The two sides are reunited, and suddenly a magical van appears that beckons to take SpongeBob, Patrick, Sandy, Squidward and Mr. Krabs to the legendary city of Atlantis. Each passenger, along with Plankton who has secretly stowed away in the van’s glove compartment, is eager to experience the many riches the city is rumored to contain. When the van finally arrives, they are greeted by Atlantis’ king himself, Lord Royal Highness (voiced by David Bowie), who spares no time in taking the visitors on a tour.

Now, much as I love David Bowie, it seems to me that if you were going to cast a sixties pop star as the king of Atlantis, wouldn't Donovan be the obvious choice?

Two walls

This is a sort of "good news - bad news" story about walls. First the bad news:
A 6.5-metre section of Rome's ancient Aurelian Wall collapsed near the capital's central train station after days of heavy rain, a conservation official said Friday.

The wall, part of a 16th century restoration, crumbled into a pile of bricks Thursday evening after water infiltrated the section, said Paola Virgili, an official in charge of the wall's restoration. No one was reported hurt.

The Aurelian Wall — named after the third century emperor who built it to defend the city against the first barbarian onslaughts — surrounds Rome with more than 17 kilometres of fortifications, towers and gates.

Experts had previously determined that the entire wall section in the area, a 370-metre stretch in the north of the capital, was in danger of collapsing and they had planned to start restoring it Monday.

"It came down before we could even cordon it off," Ms. Virgili said.

At one time I could name most of the Roman emperors up to Constantine. My first thought was that the walls must be named for Marcus Aurelius, even though the century seemed wrong. Actually, the century is right and I'm wrong. The emperor in question is Lucius Domitius Aurelianus (270-75), better known simply as Aurelian. Aurelian began one of the recoveries after a period of civil war and disunion that so often plagued the Roman Empire. The Aurelian Walls are the walls of the city of Rome at it it's greatest as depicted on the maps in many ancient history books. From the story, it appears the city of Rome plans to restore the wall, which is nice, but it would have been nicer if the rain would have held off a few days and they had been allowed to save the walls.

Here's a happier wall story:
A lovely little piece of subway history on the uptown platform of the No. 1 line at 59th Street-Columbus Circle — so old it actually antedates the trains — was concealed from generations of riders by a false wall.

With the false wall being removed as part of the station renovation, history has come to light again: a blue-and-white Art Nouveau plaque, with a flowery border (worthy of willow ware) encircling the words, "The Tiles in This Exhibit are the product of the American Encaustic Tiling Co. Limited / Zanesville Ohio / New-York N.Y."

What exhibit?

It turns out that the 59th Street station was a kind of proving ground for the architects Heins & LaFarge in 1901, three years before the Interborough Rapid Transit Company trains began running through it.

"The architects used its walls as an art gallery, experimenting with decorative ideas in various colors of tiles and other materials," Philip Ashforth Coppola wrote in Silver Connections: A Fresh Perspective on the New York Area Subway Systems (Four Oceans Press, 1984). "When the real decorating of Columbus Circle began, all these preliminary experiments were covered over and forgotten." That is, until this fall.

The transit authorities plan to remove the plaque along with some of the surrounding tiles and move them to the New York Transit Museum. In the mean time, the plaque is there on the wall where it has been for the past 106 years. Only now, any subway rider can view it.

Any city, even a relatively new one, has hidden history and lost treasures. Next time you go downtown in your town, look up above the signs and crowds and take a moment to really see the buildings. You never know what kind of architectural treasures might be hidden in plain sight.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Fun searches

I just checked some of my statistics. The search terms showed the usual number of College Republicans coming here looking for nude photos of Ann Coulter. But today I found a new one: "malkin brain-injury." I don't believe I've ever posted on that topic, but I have thought it. Archy was the number three return for that one.