Thursday, September 29, 2005

Southern California in flames.... again

I wasn't blogging then, but I was almost as close to the devastating fires almost exactly two years ago. The Simi Valley fire back in 2003 came within 5 miles of the fetching Mrs. Wookie's and my apartment. We were driving up the 23 freeway and were turned back at a point as we watched the fire sparking flames on both sides of the freeway.

While we no longer live in the apartment, I still work only minutes from Simi Valley, Box Canyon, Topanga Canyon, Calabasas, and Agoura. In fact those areas form an erie crescent around the office. Needless to say, I've kept a close eye on the smoke for the past two days.

To start while I was coming back down the 210 freeway after the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim's preseason game last night (on a lighter note, damn I'm glad hockey is back), all of LA was back lit in bright red. It was quite a view where the 210 peaks between Pasadena and Glendale.

This morning once I got to work there were several pillars of smoke emanating from all around. In fact if you've seen any of the coverage of these fires, and you've seen water-dropping helicopters refilling for another run, that reservoir they're taking water from is a quarter mile from my desk. All day I was watching helicopters travel back and forth. And more importantly I was watching flames sparking up here and there all over the little valley that the reservoir backs into.

We watched many of the images on the television happening right in front of us. Hopefully my lame attempt at a graphic helps give you an idea where this is and where previous fire lines have been. The red arc around the Chatsworth reservoir is where I was (that's my office, the black dot at the "N" in Northridge. The fire actually continues further west from my line, north and east to Simi Valley, and then a jagged "L"shaped line from Simi back to the bottom of the fire line that I could see. Above it is the area burned 2 years ago. While not the same acreage yet, there are many more houses endangered by this fire.

God bless the fire fighters I saw scurrying around the ridges of the canyons as well as the pilots of the water-dropping aircraft. God speed and good aim.

John Roberts gets the best job in the world

He can never be fired and gets to wear a robe to work. How cush is that!

Ok, ok. Second best job behind Hugh Hefner's

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- John G. Roberts Jr. was sworn in Thursday as the 17th chief justice of the United States after winning Senate approval with a solid majority.

Roberts, 50, was given the oath of office by the senior associate justice, John Paul Stevens, at a ceremony in the White House's East Room.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Senate Judiciary approves Roberts

The first step is taken...

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)-[off the wire, no link]-The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday voted 13-5 to send U.S. Chief Justice nominee John Roberts Jr. to the full Senate for a final vote.

The expected approval came with support from three Democratic committee members - Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis.; and Russ Feingold, D-Wis. The remaining Democrats said their opposition was ground in concern about how Roberts might rule on individual and civil rights matters that come before the Supreme Court. Democrats also cited Roberts' unwillingness to answer questions they posed to him on numerous legal issues during confirmation hearings.

With the committee vote, Roberts is one step closer to becoming the 17th chief justice of the United States. Roberts will get the chance to oversee a generational change at the nation's highest court. At the age of 50, he could oversee the court for several decades.

"When he is confirmed, this will be the Roberts court, and we know the Supreme Court will change dramatically," said Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who voted against Roberts. "Many of our core rights and core freedoms hang on the balance of one vote."

The full Senate will debate Roberts next week, with a vote by Sept. 29. Roberts is likely to be sworn in by the time the court convenes on Oct. 3 for its new term.

The Supreme Court, after 11 years of stability, is undergoing significant change with two openings at once. Roberts is slated to replace William Rehnquist, who died over Labor Day weekend at 80 after 19 years as chief justice. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, 75, said she will retire when her successor - not yet named by President Bush - is confirmed. Additional change is likely. The court's oldest member, Justice John Paul Stevens, is 85, and all but one of the remaining justices currently sitting are over 65.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said he hopes Roberts can bring more consensus to the high court, known in recent years for numerous 5-4 decisions on contentious social issues. "One of the factors which I like about the prospect of a chief justiceship for Judge Roberts is his potential to bring the court together," Specter said.

Democrats voting against Roberts, however, said they are worried what role Roberts might have in upholding legal precedent on individual and civil rights such as the right to an abortion. "I must regretfully vote no as I have in the past when I have doubts about the nominee on these fundamental rights," Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., said.

The only woman on the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she also would oppose Roberts because "he did not cross my bar" in calming her concerns about the future of legal precedent on women's issues that she considers important.

Republicans were critical of senators who have decided to vote against him. "I don't see how anyone can justify a vote against Judge Roberts unless they nitpick," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., urged Democrats to look ahead to the day when a Democratic president again gets to pick a Supreme Court nominee. "Liberals and conservatives come and go, but the rule of law is bigger than all our philosophies," Graham said.

The Democratic split on Roberts also will play out next week when the full Senate debates his nomination. The decision of Leahy, the panel's top Democrat, to support Roberts contrasts against the decision of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who said he will oppose him.

Roberts is strongly backed by Senate Republicans, who control 55 votes in the 100-member body, and will receive several additional votes from Democrats. It isn't yet clear, however, how much support Democrats will provide.

President Bush still has to name a second nominee to replace the retiring O'Connor. That nomination isn't expected until the Senate confirms Roberts. Bush met with several lawmakers at the White House Wednesday, but didn't indicate who he is considering for the job. Senators did make several suggestions for nominees during the meeting.

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--09-22-05 1257EDT

Most think it won't be a big battle in the Senate, and that the Democrats are saving there ammo for O'Connor's replacement. Listening to soundbites from the hearings courtesy of Hugh, I have to agree most (*cough* Leahy *cough*) seem to be posturing themselves to say, hey we approved the last guy but we feel this one's just way out of the mainstream (as if they've ever even seen the mainstream).

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Tips for dealing with a hurricane

Being that I live in Southern California and have not dealt with anything remotely resembling real weather (rain, snow, sleet, etc...) I have no idea what to do in the case of a strong breeze let alone a hurricane. To be quite honest most Southern Californians were really oohing and aahing at a laser/lightning show last night (talk about a redneck moment... sitting on the porch, drinking beer, watching lightning as if that were as entertaining as those cool bluelight bug zappers).

And since I have no experience with hurricanes, I went looking for a guide... a hurricanes for dummies, if you will, just in case Rita skips right across Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona and heads straight for Southern California.

Thanks to IMAO for providing such a service:

"What's with all the hurricanes?" you're probably asking, "And why isn't the U.S. government stopping them?" Well, hurricanes are a global problem, and thus the U.N. should take care of them. We could do it for them, but then the U.N. will never learn responsibility.

As for what causes hurricanes, some say global warming. The only way to prove this, though, is to heat some sort of globe in a lab and see what happens. This would require a globe heating device - something you'll only find in bad science fiction. Thus, we just have to accept that hurricanes happen and we don't know why (though it probably has to do with there being so many gays in Miami).

Since we can't stop hurricanes, all we can do is prepare for them. I had previously written a Know Thy Enemy: Hurricanes, but now I want to focus exclusively on what you can do to prepare for and survive a hurricane. Thus, I wrote a neato guide.


* HURRICANE OR NOT: The first step to hurricane preparedness is to know whether you are actually dealing with a hurricane and not just a rainy day. You could rely on the MSM, but they are notoriously liberal biased. Instead, check for yourself by standing outside. Remember, a hurricane has lots of rain and high speed winds. If there is only lots of rain, simply put on a raincoat (should be banana yellow for highest efficacy). If there is only lots of high speed wind, then it's a tornado and you're done for because this guide doesn't cover that. When you have lots of rain and the high speed winds, congratulations, you are in a hurricane.

* FLEEING: Also known as the Persian Maneuver, you can flee particularly strong hurricanes. This will only encourage hurricanes, though, so it's best to stand and fight.

* WINDOWS: Strong windows are essential for your house to withstand a hurricane. On most houses, windows are much more likely to break than the walls (unless you live a glass house; if so, eschew stone throwing). The best way to test your windows is the Sledgehammer Window Test where you hit your windows with a sledgehammer... as a test. If the windows break, replace with stronger windows. If no break, hooray! For this test, it may be a good idea to wear safety goggles... or have your kids do it.

There is a rumor about opening windows to equalize air pressure in your house in the case of strong winds. This is bunkum. Keep your windows shut, especially if you're my neighbors and like to play loud music.

* FLOODING: With hurricanes, there is the risk of flood. Most regular insurance policies do not cover flooding. If you have flood insurance, then you're an idiot because all you need to stop flooding is sandbags. Water is unable to penetrate sand; that's why we put sand on all our coastlines to keep the oceans at bay. The reason we have sandbags is because sand is tough to carry if not in a bag. If you properly stack sandbags around your house, then you have no flood worries (you may want to put razor wire at the top of your sandbag stacks to show the flood waters you are serious).

When figuring out how high to stack your sandbags, it's best to take in account where your house is in regards to sea level. If your house is on top of a mountain in Colorado, then you don't need to stack very many sandbags if you hear a hurricane is approaching North America.

* FOOD AND WATER: When preparing to bunker down for a hurricane, make sure you have plenty of food and potable water. How is potable water different from drinking water? I'm not sure, but, in hurricane situations, everyone uses the word "potable" so you better make sure the water you buy is labeled such.

When taking inventory of your supplies, make sure to ask your self important questions:

"If I have a sudden craving for quesadillas, am I prepared?"

"While I might have enough water for drinking and cleaning my socks, if a water balloon fight breaks out, do I have enough water (and balloons) to return fire?"

"If the water balloon fight turns into a war and then a quagmire, how long can I keep armed with water balloons until my water supply is exhausted?"

"If the only food left is Spam, am I prepared to eat it, or is that the time to resort to cannibalism?"

* FIREARMS: As always, make sure to have guns. After a hurricane, there may be looters who try to take your stuff. They will stop if you shoot them. If you see someone with stuff you think may not be his, he's a looter. Shoot him before he tries to loot you.

The problem with hurricanes is that you will be operating in wet conditions. Will your shotgun work when wet? It's best now to test this by doing target practice while standing in a running shower. You could also look up the make and model of your gun on the internet, but information on the 'net is highly unreliable and should not be trusted in a life or death situation.

* PETS: If you have small pets, they could be blown away in the hurricane. It's best to tact them down so you don't lose them or if you just find it annoying when they run around. I have this heavy wrought iron thing (I'm not sure what it is) that I like to put on top of my cat Sydney to pin her down so she'll stop running around and jumping on the furniture.

QUICK PET TIP: Instead of feeding your dog and then eating him as a last resort, it's best to eat him right away and then eat the dog food yourself. You'll have more food that way. Remember: You're dog would eat you if it came to it, and, if he's a pit bull, he probably already has plans.

* MISCELLANEOUS: Make sure to have matches. They make fire, and you might want that. You may want some flashlights, but, if you're staying in your own house, there is nothing new or interesting to see. Also, have some rope. Rope is always useful. Oh, and a graphing calculator. If I'm not completely sure what I'm up against, I like to have a graphing calculator.

North Korea lies again...

... but this time reveal their lie much, much quicker.

SEOUL/BEIJING (Reuters) - North Korea jeopardized a six-country deal on giving up its nuclear arms just one day after it was struck by vowing on Tuesday to keep the weapons until Washington provides civilian atomic reactors, but some participants said this did not mean the pact was dead.

The United States said the North's views, set out in a long statement, did not match the agreement signed in Beijing on Monday in which Pyongyang agreed to scrap its nuclear programs in return for aid and recognition of its right to a civilian nuclear program.

The six countries -- China, the United States, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, Japan -- agreed to discuss providing a light-water reactor "at an appropriate time."

But the North took a different stance on Tuesday.

"The U.S. should not even dream of the issue of the DPRK's dismantlement of its nuclear deterrent before providing LWRs," it said in a statement published by the KCNA news agency. "This is our just and consistent stand as solid as a deeply rooted rock."

Hugh was talking with Claudia Rosette yesterday who said don't celebrate quite yet, North Korea and their leader PingPong have done this to us before. Man what a difference a day makes.

The article continues and makes the point that it could be a bluff, a negotiating ploy to get what they want. Either way I don't see how we can trust them at their word unless we get our officials (or Team America) to sit there and verify every little thing they do with their nuclear reactors.

House hunting

As you may recall the fetching Mrs. Wookie and I recently moved out of our glorious apartment and in with the in-laws. I can hear the collective shudder from men across SoCal but they're actually very reasonable Democrats and I get along fine...

Oh you meant living with the in-laws. Oh that's fine too, and the fetching Mrs. Wookie and I are extremely grateful to them for housing us and our pooch. (And a quick thanks to my parents who've been housing me while I finish up with my work transfer from LA to Riverside county. I can't say enough about being 27 and living at home again. I love that anytime anyone asks my mom "How's John?" she says he's living at home again and she gets this real disappointed "Oh." in response).

But that may soon be ending as the fetching Mrs. Wookie and I are putting in an offer on a swell pad that's 3 bed & 2.5 bath.

Let's hope the current owner likes $20K less than what she's asking for. If she does it'll be just like those commercials... "I'm in debt up to my eyeballs [especially with California's bloated home prices]. Somebody help me."

Shepherd Smith makes a classic booboo

This was too funny. Shepherd Smith has a little somethin-somethin on his mind other than JLo's latest album.

Talk about a tongue twister.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Al-Qaeda declares war on fellow Muslims now

I guess they figured since they had already killed a bunch of Muslims who'd rather be free, happy, and part of a capitalistic and democratic society, that they may as well get it over with and just declare war on all Shiites.

CAIRO (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-Al-Qaida's leader in Iraq purportedly declared an all-out war on Shiite Muslims, Iraqi troops and the country's government in an audio tape released on Internet on Wednesday.

The speaker on the tape, introduced as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, also said his militant forces would attack any Iraqi it believes has cooperated with an ongoing U.S.-led offensive in the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar.

"If proven that any of (Iraq's) national guards, police or army are agents of the Crusaders, they will be killed and his house will be demolished or burnt - after evacuating all women and children - as a punishment," the voice said in the new tape that surfaced on an Internet site known for carrying extremist Islamist content.

The speaker announced "all-out war against Shiites everywhere. Beware, there will be no mercy."

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--09-14-05 1419EDT

And shortly afterward they posted a new video saying just in case you forgot we've previously delcared war on the USA, George Bush, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, Britain, Japan, Spain, Italy, Poland, Australia, all the islands in the Carribean (for the devil's liquor they call Rum and bikinis), Cindy Sheehan, Major League Baseball players who use steriods, Victoria's Secret (Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks specifically), the Fox News Channel, and puppies (because they're just too damn cute).

They just wanted to make sure they were covering all their bases.

Palestinians need to step up

C'mon Palestine, shock me. I don't think you'll even come close to making it worth Israel moving out of Gaza. Prove me wrong.

UNITED NATIONS (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-President George W. Bush said Wednesday the Palestinians should follow through on Israel's withdrawal from Gaza by establishing a peaceful government in the area as a starting point toward coexistence with the Jewish state.

"The world must hear that now," Bush told Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the start of one of only two meetings the president held between U.N. sessions marking the world organization's 60th birthday. The other was with staunch U.S. ally U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Sharon's decision to withdraw all Jewish settlers and Israeli troops from Gaza seems to have eased pressure on him, and prompted countries such as Pakistan to consider diplomatic ties.

For Israel, it is a rare respite in a setting where Israel routinely is criticized as unyielding.

And Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas appears to be responding. A top aide said Wednesday he would demand that all armed groups in Gaza represented in the new parliament disband immediately after Palestinian elections in January.

"I am inspired by your courageous decision to give peace a chance," Bush told Sharon. "I know it was hard to do."

Turning to the Palestinians' role, Bush said, "One thing is essential and the world must hear that now is the time for Palestinians to come together and establish a government that will be peaceful with Israel."

"Gaza is a good chance to start," Bush said. "I know the Israeli government wants to see that to happen as well."

Turning to Arab governments who have pledged massive assistance to the Palestinians but have been slow to follow through, Bush said, "Arab neighbors need to help the Palestinians develop an economy. Now is the time for people to step up."

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--09-14-05 1350EDT

I'm 99.9% sure that giving up Gaza won't solve a damn thing. True, Israel deserves credit for giving away the farm to try to buy peace, but I don't think it will be enough. They'll keep wanting more. And it's not like they can give up being Jewish because that's what it's going to take for Hamas to give this up.

Poll numbers confirm it. Americans don't like the French

Duh. Though it's nice to get some confirmation on what was merely speculation and personal bias before.

ROCHESTER, N.Y., Sept. 14 /PRNewswire/ -[off the wire, no link]- Every year at this time Harris Interactive(R) asks a nationwide cross section of U.S. adults how they feel about a list of countries with a scale varying from "close ally" at one end to "unfriendly and is an enemy" at the other. In this year's survey, Great Britain, Canada and Australia continue to lead the list as the countries perceived to be our closest allies, followed by Israel and Japan.

These are the results of a nationwide Harris Poll of 1,217 adults surveyed by telephone by Harris Interactive between August 9 and 16, 2005.

Great Britain still holds a very special place among U.S. adults as almost three-quarters (74%) think of them as a close ally. Canada (48%), Australia (44%) and Israel (41%) receive high marks but they are quite distant from those received by Great Britain[...]

Other interesting findings include:

Germany and France, countries that for many years had been among the United States' closest allies have now slipped in the eyes of U.S. adults. France, the country which was most outspoken in its opposition to the Iraq war, slipped from eighth place in 2002 to 17th place last year and has improved slightly to 16th place this year. Fully 41 percent of U.S. adults think of France as less than friendly.

Germany, which was almost as strong in its criticism of the United States and the war in Iraq, fell from sixth in 2002 but has returned to a more respectable 10th place this year though a quarter (24%) of U.S. adults still think of it as less than friendly[...]

9/14/2005 10:32:15 AM
Rank NowNationClose AllyFriendly, Not Close AllyNot Friendly, Not EnemyUnfriendly, Enemy
1Great Britain741831
8South Korea25312014
20South Africa1142246

Not a bad list. I personally move the French down a little further maybe, but not bad. They didn't throw them any really interesting ones other than Pakistan though. Iraq? Iran? Afghanistan? Syria? Saudi Arabia?

Where do you think the national consensus on those?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Chrenkoff signs off

It is sad to see such a fabulous blogger signing off. His "Good News" updates from the GWOT are essential reading for anyone who wants to see whats happening behind the MSM's everyday report on the number of car bombs and casualties.

Make sure you check out his latest Good News from Iraq before he goes.

Good luck, sir. It's been our privilege reading you.

New Orleans Pets 1, Humans 0

Watch this CNN clip and tell me this isn't a colossal waste of resources.

And here's the story to go with it.

SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- The first major airlift of dogs from the hurricane-battered Gulf Coast left Louisiana on Sunday, carrying about 80 pets to new temporary homes in California.

The Continental Airlines flight from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was chartered for about $50,000 by Texas oil tycoon Boone Pickens and his wife, Madeleine, in a movement dubbed "Operation Pet Lift."

Some dogs were placed in cages in the cargo section while others rode in the passenger cabin, where they barked and wagged their tails.

"They'd been in cages far too long. We felt like they needed to be free so they sat on our laps, and we played with them the whole way," said Christine Penrod, Madeleine Pickens' sister, who accompanied the animals on the flight.

About half the dogs were headed for San Diego, with the rest bound for San Francisco. Sunday's move was organized by, based in Austin, Texas.

"The goal was to help rescue 200 dogs," Pickens' spokesman Jay Rosser said. "They're overjoyed that they were able to rescue 80, but clearly disappointed and dismayed at the bureaucracy, which prevented them from taking the full 200."

First thing first, thank God this wasn't paid for by FEMA or any other government agency for that matter. A private donation is slightly easier to stomach, but not by much. $50K to charter the flight for 80 some animals; that's about $625 of fuel, airline space, and valuable time for animals.

Now I don't want to see stupid comments about how I hate animals. I have a dog; I love my dog, but as Dennis Prager always says if both my dog's life and a strangers were both in danger and I could only rescue one, I'd rescue the stranger (although if it were a swimming situation I'd rescue both because I'm a damn good swimmer).

My question with this is where's PETA? You'd think they'd be all over this sort of thing. Well a quick check of they're website has this gem about their fundraiser to raise funds for media awareness:

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, items from Pamela Anderson, John McEnroe, Stella McCartney, and others were sold in a silent auction to benefit PETA's Animal Emergency Fund, which supports PETA's aggressive work with local media outlets to advise residents not to abandon their animals during natural disasters and to provide them with vital information to keep their companion animals safe during storms. Among the items auctioned off for the Fund were a walk-on part on Anderson's TV show, Stacked, autographed tennis rackets from McEnroe and Martina Navratilova, and cruelty-free items from McCartney's fashion collection.

...and an open letter to Dubya to "Urge President Bush to Ensure That Animals Are Included in Future Disaster Response Plans:"

President Bush,

Thousands of animals perished after Katrina because animal protection agents were made to sit idle, awaiting permission from authorities to enter flooded areas. Although FEMA guidelines on animal handling had been carefully crafted in cooperation with PETA and other animal organizations, our government threw them out the window, going so far as to order citizens to abandon their animals under threat of arrest and even violence.

We must learn from this failure and work to ensure that such horrors never recur. In these United States, we can do better for our citizens and their animals.

Please make it a priority of your investigation into this situation to ensure that animal protection and rescue are part of the plan in future disasters.


[Some wacko who thinks BBQ chicken is the latest Holocaust]

"Our government threw them out the window."

I actually laughed out loud at that line. I'm picturing Police, Fire Fighters, and Coast Gaurds running through the house looking for that little old lady who has 20 cats throwing them out the windows one by one. (I don't know why this video comes to mind...)

Oh the horror! Oh the humaity... no the animality!!

But back to the main point, the people deserve the money here. Unfortunately we have to prioritize and put the animals way down the list. Life's not fiar. That's just the way it is.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Russians trying to be better allies by helping Iran build their nuclear reactor

Does anyone still wonder why they didn't want us to take the GWOT to Iraq? UN Oil-for-Food kickbacks, too close to Iran...

MOSCOW (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-The head of Iran's nuclear program told Russian officials Monday that the new Iranian government wants to step up cooperation with Russia.

"The relations with Russia are of key importance to our state," Gholamreza Aghazadeh said at the start of his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Russia, which is building a nuclear reactor in Iran, has objected to the U.S. push to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions over its controversial nuclear program, saying that the U.N. nuclear watchdog could continue dealing with the issue.

Following Monday's talks between Lavrov and Aghazadeh, the Russian Foreign Ministry reaffirmed that the latest report by U.N. nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei "creates a good basis for the continuation of the professional and apolitical work by the International Atomic Energy Agency so that all remaining issues relating to Iran's nuclear program are resolved."

The U.K., Germany and France, negotiating on behalf of the European Union, have warned they may join in seeking to refer Iran to the Council if Tehran doesn't stop uranium conversion before a meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Sept. 19.

Last month, Iran restarted uranium conversion, an early stage of the nuclear fuel cycle that precedes enrichment. Highly enriched uranium can be used to make weapons. At lower levels, it is used in power generation.

Iran says its nuclear ambitions are aimed only at electricity generation.

Russia's $800 million contract to build the Bushehr nuclear reactor has caused U.S. concerns that the reactor could help Tehran develop nuclear weapons. But U.S. officials praised Moscow for demanding a deal - signed in February - that obliges Iran to return spent nuclear fuel from Bushehr to make sure it is not used in weapons programs.

Russian and Iranian officials reaffirmed Monday that the Bushehr plant would be launched by the end of 2006.

Russia already has trained about 700 Iranian nuclear engineers, and several dozen Iranian experts are yet to complete training at the Novovoronezh nuclear power plant in southwestern Russia, Alexander Ivanchenko, who heads the training center at the plant, said, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.

While Russia has defended its nuclear cooperation with Iran, it has also urged Tehran to stop uranium conversion and cooperate with the international community to assuage concerns about its nuclear program.

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--09-12-05 1011EDT

I like that last paragraph. Let me translate: "No, no. Don't build it youself. Let us do it for you. As long as you cross you heart, hope to die, stick a needle in your eye, never ever, use it to make nuclear weapons. Mkay?"

And are we really that dumb to think that because Iran signed a piece of paper saying that all spent nuclear fuel will be returned to Russia that they'll actually do it? That whole "you signed something that said you'd never make nuclear weapons" worked real well with North Korea, didn't it.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

9-11-05... continued

Thanks to Sheila Variations for the following:

I post this every year.

Billy Collins, former poet laureate, wrote "The Names" in the wake of September 11 and read it during a special joint session of Congress in New York on September 6, 2002.

This is what poet laureates are for.

The Names

Yesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.
A soft rain stole in, unhelped by any breeze,
And when I saw the silver glaze on the windows,
I started with A, with Ackerman, as it happened,
Then Baxter and Calabro,
Davis and Eberling, names falling into place
As droplets fell through the dark.
Names printed on the ceiling of the night.
Names slipping around a watery bend.
Twenty-six willows on the banks of a stream.
In the morning, I walked out barefoot
Among thousands of flowers
Heavy with dew like the eyes of tears,
And each had a name --
Fiori inscribed on a yellow petal
Then Gonzalez and Han, Ishikawa and Jenkins.
Names written in the air
And stitched into the cloth of the day.
A name under a photograph taped to a mailbox.
Monogram on a torn shirt,
I see you spelled out on storefront windows
And on the bright unfurled awnings of this city.
I say the syllables as I turn a corner --
Kelly and Lee,
Medina, Nardella, and O'Connor.
When I peer into the woods,
I see a thick tangle where letters are hidden
As in a puzzle concocted for children.
Parker and Quigley in the twigs of an ash,
Rizzo, Schubert, Torres, and Upton,
Secrets in the boughs of an ancient maple.
Names written in the pale sky.
Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.
Names silent in stone
Or cried out behind a door.
Names blown over the earth and out to sea.
In the evening -- weakening light, the last swallows.
A boy on a lake lifts his oars.
A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,
And the names are outlined on the rose clouds --
Vanacore and Wallace,
(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)
Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.
Names etched on the head of a pin.
One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.
A blue name needled into the skin.
Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,
The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.
Alphabet of names in a green field.
Names in the small tracks of birds.
Names lifted from a hat
Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.
Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.
So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart.

9-11-05... We remember

Esprit de Corpse

How have things changed since 9-11?

We sang God Bless America in Mass today. I can't remember ever doing that, even on the Fourth of July...

One of the most emotionally solemn days of my life was visiting a big hole in the ground formerly known as the World Trade Center in May of 2003. Solidarity is holding those iron bars, peering into that pit, and trying to hold back tears with a dozen other people I've never seen before...

Seeing fellow Americans, four years later, still proudly displaying the flag, whether it's at home, at work, or a simple bumpersticker on their car...

God Bless America.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Just another Conservative's night in a Liberal state

OK so I was at this bar by myself....

No, really I was supposed to meet some coworkers there, but they never showed. Apparently my imaginary secretary got the dates screwed up again. She's so fired.

Anyway... I was at this bar in Woodland Hills by myslef and I figured, no sense in letting a perfectly good English Pub go to waste, so I sat at the bar and had a beer. I chatted with a couple people, even had the local drunk come in, sit down next to me, try to hold a conversation with me (when I had to repeat what I do for a living 5 times I figured maybe he had already been hitting the bottle a bit), just to get his butt kicked out by the cute little bartender.

So I'm sitting watching the baseball game when a nice talkative guy sits down. He makes small talk, says something about the waitress being way out of his league, I laugh, and we chat.

Two sentences in to the conversation he has to let slip that he's a Democrat. Fine. I've had two beers, I just wanted a peaceful evening, I wasn't about to ruin his or my buzz.

So he let's a few more comments slip... you know... war for oil, Dubya's a moron... nothing of any substance. I am really trying not to let fly on this guy. Then he pulls a Kanye West moment of brilliance and says something to the effect of the New Orleans blacks are current day slaves.

At this point I really had to just turn to him and say, "What?"

He says, "Yeah, slaves."


"I didn't see any shackles on them."

"Oh, they live in shacks though."

"I said shackles... nevermind. So let me get this straight... the modern day slave gets paid via welfare by the government to have illegitimate children, is more likely to be overweight do to their easy access to cheap, high calorie foods, and despite being impoverished in the wealthiest nation on earth they still own at least one TV and live better than most of the poor in third world nation. And on top of that we allow them to arm themselves so they can shoot at the rescue helicopters that are trying to save people in need? These are slaves?"

"Yeah! So you've been to the South? You've seen the racism?"


"Republicans want to keep minorities in their underprivileged, working class positions. That's whay we got slaves in the first place... because they were black. We need to help them get on their feet. Republicans want to take those programs away."

"OK first... small history lesson. Ever heard of indentured servants? They were Irish. They were considrered by many at the time subhuman. And newsflash... They're not black. Hispanics... many die trying to reach the US to work. They're not black. And they can avail themselves of every opportunity in this country. My wife is part Hispanic. She grew up with no money. She started working when she was 15. She put herself through college with scholarships, grants, and loans... money available to everyone. Now at 27 makes more than her father twice her age. She had no help from anyone, not her parents. No one. All by herself."

"Is she black?"


"Is she black?"


"Is she black?"

"Dude, no!"


This from a Jewish white guy. Did anyone else follow that conversation?

Man a lot changes when you haven't posted anything for a week or so...

It's incredible. The Gulf Coast gets obliterated, New Orleans is still underwater, Kanye West let's fly with his brilliant opinion that Dubya hates black people (Michelle Malkin has the goods), and then Chief Justice Renquist dies.

So before I go waxing on about how hard moving sucks (and man does it suck), I hope everyone has donated to the Red Cross, Feed the Children, Soldier's Angels or something to to help the victims of hurricane Katrina. I mean Sri Lanka sent money, so that we can't afford it excuse won't fly.

So now begins the tirade...

I haven't posted in a while because, one, work has been absolutely crazy, and two, the fetching Mrs. Wookie and I are in the process of moving. We're moving out into the inland empire near her family. For those familiar with the area it used o be the "909" but has recently upgraded to the "951." Now it started off well enough; we were proactive got a good headstart packing up the barware, plates, linens and stuff, but then we petered out a bit. By the time midnight rolled around on Thursday and then most of the time on Saturday and Sunday we were just throwing crap in boxes, slapping on some tape, and tossing it in the back of my truck. We stopped labelling everything as well, so those boxes will be like Christmas presents when we open them.

So Thursday rolls around. We rented the big U-Haul and wanted to get a move on for the long weekend to beat traffic and what not. I tried to enlist anybody I could to help with the move and ended up getting two, my cousin Larry and our neighbor Wes helped load and on the other end brother-in-law Doug helped unload. And those guys were godsends. I'd still be moving crap if they hadn't come by. And even with them I still needed two more trips with my truck and the fetching Mrs. Wookie's minivan. That was 1,000 miles driven for those of you keeping score at home.

On top of all the moving there's cleaning the apartment, and we had the bright idea when we moved in or painting a few walls, so we had to repaint to the generic "apartment off-white." It was a great idea at the time, and we really enjoyed the red wall in the bedroom, but repainting it was a bummer. Those Home Depot color matching guys are awesome.

So I'm tired, sore, a little cranky and we're living with the In-laws for the time being while we look to BUY A HOUSE, actually own property, a piece of land. Dear God... It'll be beautiful.

So watch out for sporadic blogging as work allows and as I'll be competing for computer time with family.