Saturday, March 12, 2005

Oshkosh II: Convocation of the Pseudoduxii XXXVI

I'm just back from the Oshkosh Decoy Show, which was held at the Hilton Garden Inn, a better venue than in the past. The hotel rooms were bigger, fresher, and more attractive, and the show proper, which was today, was in a single large and sunny room, far better than the warren of dark rooms which had been used in the past. Roger Ludwig, who organizes it every year, deserves a big thank you. It was well done.

As was the case at the Minnesota Decoy Show, some regulars were seen to stay up past their bedtimes, convivializing over a tad too much wine before retiring for a few hours sleep, only to arise and repeat the process.

On Thursday nite a notorious Neo-Luddite, whose saddening story has been mentioned before in these pages, was seen tripping up a well-known member of the East Coast Liberal Media Elite by tying said napping scrivener's shoe laces together- this after guzzling fine vinun americanum provided by that very same selfless scribe.

The following nite the same scurrilous fellow threatened to spend the evening bonding with his son like a responsible pater familias instead of supplying sweet viands to his comrades, sitting at the knees of his fellows while soaking up the Wisdom of the Ages. Finally, tho, as Morpheus threatened to totter off to bed, he appeared, in hand a jug of what proved to be a rather fine Pacific plonk from the coastal region of the Eureka! state.

Visions arose unbidden of bikinied Surfer Dudesses beckoning fetchingly in the tropic breeze whilst trampling out grapes 'neath gently swaying palms. The congregation of oenophiles gathered round; the ambrosial produce of Chateau Stoned Bunny was roundly praised, it's nuances savored as only such sophisticates can. The most subtle e'en discerned as it tumbled into silver goblets that it was indeed definitely red.

One dapper bi-coastal gentleman proved that he had missed his calling when he gave an impromptu reading of a fellow decoy scholar's immortal prose. The rapt audience sat in silence, stunned by the rich modulations falling upon their eager ears. Rarely have dilettanti di pseudoduxii had such a deathless combination of text and timbre in so superb a setting.

Long into the night, as driven snow beat silently at snug windows, new myths and heroes arose, to begin their slow evolution, to be sung of 'round campfires throughout the long centuries, to take their rightful places with those of old: Beowulf, Gilgamesh, Odysseus, and Mackey.

The Lord of Spring Valley and his Lady Fair didst regale their boon companions with tale upon tale of days ancient and far, some ne'er to be repeated lest even listeners be chained to great rocks for legal eagles to rend their livers though ages everlasting. Admonishments given and accepted, wisdom imparted, or not, thru the frozen nite the revelers discoursed.

Finally, lest Phaeton in his chariot espy rosy-fingered Aurora, Goddess of the Dawn, the legions dispersed, and wended their separate ways to their chosen serais.

On Frigga's Day, Lord Paine the Communicator brought forth treasures seized in fair battle: from the long-passed Lords of Koshkonong he did have treasures winnowed from mountainous chaff. Few had equal success, near all fell short.

On Saturn's Day the legions congregated in the Great Hall of the Pseudoduxii. Again portentous agreements were made, lingering glances were cast, treasures changed hands, and at long last the Lords and Ladies of the Pseudoduxii went their ways, sadly not to come together again for some long time.

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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Something doesn't jibe...

...between, on one hand, the Italian government's and Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena's description of the shooting which killed one of her rescuers at a checkpoint, and on the other hand, the hard evidence. Hard evidence being the car as a shown in AP photos.

In a detailed reconstruction of the incident presented to Parliament, Fini said the troops focused a searchlight on the car and immediately began firing for 10 or 20 seconds.Click here: Italian View of Iraq Shooting at Odds With U.S.: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
A Humvee appeared, and suddenly the car carrying her came under fire. "It rained bullets. We didn't have any way of knowing where they were coming from. They fired for a few minutes. Click here: SPIEGEL's Daily Take: Italian Hostage Sgrena: "It Rained Bullets" - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Ignoring the discrepancy in time- seconds vs a few minutes- anyone under fire would likely feel like a few seconds are minutes- think of multiple soldiers firing automatic weapons at a car, then look at the AP photos: Click here: Yahoo! News - World Photos - AP and Click here: Yahoo! News - World Photos - AP

If US soldiers fired at that thing for 10 seconds they should all get desk jobs, because they can't hit anything they shoot at. Looks like one hole in the windshield (under the windshield wiper), one in the left front tire, and maybe the driver's wndow shot out- or maybe it's unrolled. Hard to tell.

In any case, we are unlikely to ever know what really happened, because there is a lot of tail covering going on, likely by Sgrena, the Italian government, and very possibly the US. Still, hard evidence does speak. Also- she made it clear before she was captured that she is staunchly anti-American: she claimed to another reporter that she was immune from kidnapping for that very reason.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Oshkosh Decoy Show...

...starts on Thursday with walkabout at the Hilton Garden Inn, in, perhaps not too surprisingly, Oshkosh, WI. A friend is coming from Delaware tomorrow to spend the nite here before we drive up on Thursday AM.

We shall likely stop briefly at the West Bend Art Museum to check out the Owen Gromme mechanical Canada goose field decoy which Gromme's daughter Anne Marie donated last year. It is without doubt the most complex mechanical decoy known to exist. Gromme made it c.1950 by carving a reproduction of the flight skeleton in wood and welded and forged iron, real goose wing feathers, and covered it with a papier mache shell body and head.

When a string is pulled the body tilts from horizontal to c.40 degrees, the head pivots at the neck joint so that it stays upright, and the wings unfold and flap in an anatomically accurate manner. When the string is released the body resumes the horizontal and the wings fold up. Pretty wild.

Milwaukee objects conservator Cricket Harbeck cleaned it up and made some minor repairs last year and Milwaukee Public Museum mount maker Emilio Bras made a metal mount to support the wings so one could be unfolded, with the side of the body removed so ppl can see the mechanism.

Not sure what all will turn up at the decoy show- some years nothing very interesting walks in, and some years it does. I'll be satisfied if this durn flu which has now been beleaguering me for 13 days finally is over when I wake up tomorrow.

Which reminds me: It's time to set up the coffee maker and go to bed.

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eBay litachur

Hardly fair to post these.
From the same Florida gentleman:
eBay lets all kinds make a living, and that's pretty neat.

Maybe they read the same recipe blog

I guess this is evolution in action. Jeepers.

Click here: Another man cuts off penis, eats it (08-03-2005)

Thanks- I guess- to OpinionJournal's Best of the Web:Click here: OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today Nothing like the Wall Street Journal to keep one abreast of the news.

Next time you have a really bad headache...

...check the knife drawer.
"I thought they might give me an aspirin. Instead they pulled a 5inch knife blade out of my head," he said.
Click here: Knife in skull proves a headache (07-03-2005)

Monday, March 07, 2005

Earth & the Moon

Here's a cool space pic of the day from awhile back.Click here: APOD: September 4, 1998 - Nozomi: Earth and Moon

Sounds like Diversity the Harvard faculty would admire

Website of Ocean Haven,a lodge on the Oregon coast, says "We welcome diversity". The very same page also says "No Smokers...No Pets...No Visitors...No Hummers, No RVs, No Bush Voters (due to his environmental (sic) destructive policies.) "

Click here: Oregon Coast Nature Friendly Cabin and Lodging : Ocean Haven

Thanks to OpinionJournal's Best of the Web:

Well, if we can't eat cows because they are...

...lesbian nymphomaniacs who like an intellectual challenge (Click here: Times Online - Sunday Times ), and now it seems plants like nothing so much as to plan for the future and be companionable and solve math problems, just what are we going to eat?
Some scientists say (plants) carefully consider their environment, speculate on the future, conquer territory and enemies, and are often capable of forethought - revelations that could affect everyone from gardeners to philosophers.
They sound sorta like Republicans. Well, except for the environment part.
The debate is rapidly moving past the theoretical. In space, "smart plants" can provide not only food, oxygen, and clean air, but also valuable companionship for lonely space travelers, say some - a boon for astronauts if America is to go to Mars.
Well, then, they better be careful about taking Venus flytraps.

Not only can plants communicate with each other and with insects by coded gas exhalations...
Let's not go there.
...scientists say now, they can perform Euclidean geometry calculations through cellular computations...
Great. Maybe Larry Summers can hire them for Harvard.

...and, like a peeved boss, remember the tiniest transgression for months.
Just wait 'til dandelions get nukes. As Ward Churchill likes to remind us, it's the chickens coming home to roost among all the backyard Eichmanns.

To a growing number of biologists, the fact that plants are now known to challenge and exert power over other species is proof of a basic intellect.
Sorta like Dubya?

Patrik Jonsson has the story in the Christian Science Monitor: Click here: New research opens a window on the minds of plants

Giuliana Sgrena and US "targeting"

Here's an interesting round up of info and commentary on the killing of an Italian security officer and wounding of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena by U.S. forces.

The upshot seems to be : We still don't know exactly what happened or why, but the idea that she was targeted by US forces is ludicrous if for no better reason than this: If they wanted her dead, she would be dead.

Also, by her own word the car she was in was not going slowly, it was careening out of control, at least at times. Even if the 25-30mph the driver admits to is accurate, that is hardly a smart way to approach a checkpoint in a war zone full of car-bombers.

Click here: The Moderate Voice - Wounded Italian Journalist: Victim Of Conspiracy Or Polemecist?

That Alabama vibrator law is back in the paper

The Moscow Times, as a matter of fact.
But let's be fair. In their compassionate conservatism, the Bama Bushists did provide some exceptions to their iron grip on the state's genitals. For example, the law generously allows the sale of sexual devices "for a bona fide ... legislative, judicial or law enforcement purpose." Here the mind reels (and the stomach turns): What on God's earth could possibly constitute, say, a bona fide "legislative" use of the "vibrators, dildos, anal beads" and other stimulators covered by the law?

On second thought, don't ask. Instead, let's just rejoice in the knowledge that, thanks to the Supreme Court, Alabama politicians, judges and sheriffs can diddle themselves to their heart's content with all manner of manipulators, while your ordinary desperate housewife will have to do without them.
Click here: CONTEXT - This Week in Arts and Ideas from The Moscow Times

The difference between private property and government property is unclear to some people.

Chris Jones, the art critic for the Chicago Tribune, laments artists' lack of self confidence in the face of increased public criticism. He makes a good point near the end, but mostly his column amounts to a lament that some artists & performers are increasingly out of touch with audiences who are themselves increasingly impatient with vulgarity masquerading as humor, and performers who demand that we accept their puerile politics as Wisdom handed down from the Gods.
America's cultural professionals have lost their confidence...Good art -- and lively entertainment -- sets agendas. Defensive art typically is unwatchable. Exhibit A: the Academy Awards last week.

Cowed host Chris Rock offered nothing so much as a portrait of raw fear...Even Sean Penn substituted a new kind of impotent, childish surliness where anger once blazed.
Sean Penn, the authority who so famously went to Baghdad days before the invasion and declared that we had no business invading- because Saddam told him so? We are supposed to accept this idiot's ravings because he is an Artist? We are supposed to feel our world is endangered because Sean Penn, who is both a good actor and for practical purposes an apologist for Saddam Hussein, might be feeling a trifle chastened? I don't think so.
Rock was mainly unfunny because he was in purely reactive mode. He'd been attacked the entire previous week on the Internet for what his critics deemed his inevitable profanity, his inevitable homophobia, his inevitable political bias.
OK, I didn't watch, so I won't comment on what Rock did or didn't do. I will ask a question tho: Doesn't this sound like Jones thinks Rock can't be funny if he isn't profane, homophobic, and politically simplistic? This isn't much of a defense.
....To see how things once were -- and not so long ago, at that -- you needed only to watch the Academy's archival clips of former host Johnny Carson, tripping merrily and brilliantly over the script and ad-libbing with aplomb about the indecency of his ex-wives.

The main difference between Carson and Rock? Confidence. Carson always set his own agenda.
Confidence? Sure, but that isn't the real difference. Carson had class. Carson didn't need to be profane. Carson didn't need to be vulgar. And his audience understood he was an equal opportunity skewerer. Carson stayed on top for decades because he understood his audience and changed his performance to appeal to them as they changed. Ppl like Rock- and Jones- believe that the audience has an obligation to applaud.
This is not a matter of partisan politics, it's a matter of free cultural expression.
Sorry, Mr. Jones. You're wrong. When performers express their partisan politics from the stage, it is explicitly partisan politics. Some of the audience agrees with those political views, some disagree vehemently. And many think that the Academy Awards ceremony is not the proper place for partisan politics. Mr. Jones seems appalled that those latter ppl express their views. He wants them to shut up, declaring the result of their criticism "dangerous."

If the Academy allows them to, they have the privilege- not the right- to use the Academy Awards as a platform for announcing their political views. If the Academy allows them, they have the privilege, not the right, to use the Awards ceremony to be vulgar and profane. What they do not have is a right to be free from criticism.
Last week, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) said he would push to apply broadcast decency standards to cable and satellite...On the face of it, Stevens' argument has some logic. At a time when most of us get broadcast media via cable or satellite, the average family makes little distinction on the remote.
As a matter of fact Stevens' argument does not have any logic at all. The federal government regulates what is said on broadcast television and radio precisely because the government owns the airwaves. I happen to think that the government shouldn't own them- they should be sold off to the hightest bidders, privatized- but the case is that right now the feds own them. Owners call the shots. Period. Stevens doesn't like that tho.

Jones is suggesting that those who rent or lease (in this case broadcasters) should have the same rights as owners, simply because those who sub-let (listeners/viewers) use the property in much the same was as owners do. Try telling that to Hertz and Avis, or a landlord. Should a renter be allowed to have the car painted, free from Hertz' control? Should a renter be able to take a sledge hammer to the bathroom fixtures? Perhaps more to the point, should Hertz be able to tell not only their own customers how they may use their rental cars, but also tell the private owners of automobiles how to use their own cars? What color to paint them? Where they may drive them? Who may ride in them?

The feds don't regulate cable content because they don't own the cables. That is why Ted Stevens is totally out of line: he thinks that the feds should control the political and cultural use of private property. Stevens is wrong. The shame is that Chris Jones don't even understand the underlying issue, which is control of property: who has the right to do so, vs who has the power. Stevens wants the later, and I think that is anti-American.

If you'll read Jones' column, he makes it clear that he doesn't understand the difference between regulation of one's own property (in this case the government regulating government-owned broadcast spectra) and regulating property which is private and owned by others. He thinks they are the same. Witness this:
And then what's the difference between Netflix and the movie theater itself? It's only a matter of geography, surely, not morality.
Neither geography nor morality have anything to do with it. There is no difference: Both are private property, both are used soley by ppl who are paying for the privilege of doing so. The difference isn't between two varieties of private property. The difference is between private property and government property. Again, I wish the broadcast spectra were private, but they aren't and until they are the government has every right to regulate content. What they should not be allowed to do is seize control of private property for political purposes, and that is exactly what Stevens wants to do.
"There has to be some standards of decency," Stevens said this week, before adding "but no one wants censorship."
Rubbish. That is exactly what he wants, and the public should stand up and call Stevens what he is: A power-grabber and a Liar. If he wants to make the case for censorship, fine. But don't allow this lie to pass as truth. If Ted Stevens doesn't understand the difference between private and public property he doesn't belong in the Republican Party, much less the US Senate. At least Jones understands censorship:
It may well be desirable censorship from some people's point of view, but politicians such as Stevens should at least call it by its proper name.
Ending government regulation of broadcast content is one of the better reasons for privatizing them. Ted Stevens seems to think he has a right to treat other ppl's cable just like federal property. He's a bad guy. Unfortunately Chris Jones is making the wrong arguments against him.

Click here: Chicago Tribune Playing defense

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Lebanese Hotties vs Syrian Psychos.

I prefer the former, for a couple reasons. Anyone who has been to Lebanon tho will hardly be surprised by these pics. Photos over at Instapundit:Click here: -

Also, the poll he links to is encouraging, tho I have no idea how accurate it is.

Here's an interesting idea

Via the New York Post:
"I demand that they be put in the zoo along with the other scavengers, because that is where they belong," said Bassam Yassin, who lost his brother to a terror attack in Mosul.
Sunnis as well as Shiites are getting angry with the suicide bombers and their cohort. Some Shiites did what they had to, tho: They defended their community instead of relying on US troops:
Yesterday, hostility to the insurgency boiled over into bloodshed in Wihda, 25 miles south of Baghdad. Townsmen attacked militants thought to be planning a raid on the town and killed seven of them, police Capt. Hamadi al-Zubeidy reported.

Anger against insurgents is being fed, in part, by a government television campaign. Last week, U.S.-financed Al-Iraqiya TV aired reports showing terrorists calmly talking about how they had beheaded dozens of people, kidnapped others for ransom, and raped women and girls before killing them.

Click here:

7% Solution?

An AP article by Anick Jesdanun on ppl fired for blogging includes this tidbit:
Currently, some 27 percent of online U.S. adults read blogs, and 7 percent pen them, according to The Pew Internet and American Life Project.
Annalee Newitz, a policy analyst at the civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation, said employees often "don't realize the First Amendment doesn't protect their job."

The First Amendment only restricts government control of speech. So private employers are free to fire at will in most states, as long as it's not discriminatory or in retaliation for whistle-blowing or union organizing, labor experts say.

A few companies actually do encourage personal, unofficial blogs and have policies defining do's and don'ts for employees who post online. They recognize that there can be value in engaging customers through thoughtful blogs.

"There's always a risk, but you always have that risk anytime you put an employee on the phone," Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li said.
clik: Click here: JS Online: News:

Good news, bad news

Mathias Dopfner,chairman and CEO of Axel Springer AG, publisher of Die Welt and Bild Zeitung, has an opinion column in the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal:
Germany currently finds itself experiencing a resurgence of its old anti-Americanism. Or better put, its anti-Americanisms, since there has always been both a left-wing, anti-capitalist and a right-wing nationalist, culturally conservative variety. A new anti-Americanism has been added in the younger generation: the idea being to live American, but talk anti-American. Surveys show that some 50% of the population is in the grip of this phenomenon. Nine out of 10 Germans dislike Mr. Bush. Vladimir Putin is more trusted in this country than the American president....This is the bad news. The good news: the German case is different from France. France is lost, from a trans-Atlantic point of view. Germany is still uncertain--that is, it can be won. For the Germany that has emerged from the postwar shadow has no real foreign policy concept.
Putin is more trusted than Bush? Not news, but appalling. Putin seems to be doing all he can to turn Russia into a dictatorship. Still, the world has done without a free or democratic Russia for most of the 20th century, and as Dopfner notes, we at least have something in common:
President Putin insisted, in a conversation with me 3 1/2 weeks ago, that there was by no means any wish to take a position against America. Europe, Russia and America had far too many common interests, and most of all a common enemy: Islamic fundamentalism.
When Dopfner speaks of "left-wing, anti-capitalists" he is not talking about what American conservatives like to call left-wing i.e. Democrats or even liberal Democrats; he is talking about ppl who are self-identified communists and socialists, ppl who want to end private ownership of all property. And right-wing nationalists are unlikely to be a German version of Reagan Republicans: they are far closer to 1930s German fascists, not market capitalists at all. Neither of these groups are populated with anyone Americans ought sympathise with. It is simply the case that European politics are more extreme in both directions than Americans have any experience with. Communists, socialists, and fascists have seats in European parliaments. They have power, especially the left-wingers. That the fascists may be gaining power in some countries in response to the very real problems Europeans face with Islamist fundamentalists (and the normal problems of assimilating non-Islamist Muslim immigrants) is not all good news.

Click here: OpinionJournal - Extra

Taken leave of their senses, or...

...know exactly what they are doing?

Reuters carries a story by Robin Pomeroy which might be interpreted as saying that the Italian journalist who was recently rescued from kidnappers in Iraq was tortured out of her senses. If so, she isn't alone. The paranoid right is bad enuf; the paranoid left seems well ensconced in the Italian government:
ROME (Reuters) - Italian hostage Giuliana Sgrena, shot and wounded after being freed in Iraq, said Sunday U.S. forces may have deliberately targeted her because Washington opposed Italy's policy of dealing with kidnappers.

She offered no evidence for her claim...(T)he journalist...worked for a communist daily...The U.S. military says the car was speeding toward a checkpoint and ignored warning shots, an explanation denied by government ministers and the driver of the car.

Speaking from her hospital bed where she is being treated, Sgrena told Sky Italia TV it was possible the soldiers had targeted her because Washington opposes Italy's dealings with kidnappers that may include ransom payments.

"The United States doesn't approve of this (ransom) policy and so they try to stop it in any way possible."

According to Italy's leading daily Corriere della Sera, the driver, an unidentified Italian agent, said: "We were driving slowly, about 40-50 km/h (25-30 mph)."

...Although Italy has denied paying kidnappers in past hostage releases, Agriculture Minister Gianni Alemanno told the Corriere that "very probably" a large ransom had been paid in this case.

Italian newspapers have speculated that anything up to 8 million euros ($10 million) may have been paid...

Italy's minister for parliamentary relations, Carlo Giovanardi, has also said he did not believe the U.S. version of events.
So, is the Italian government encouraging continued kidnappings by paying huge ransoms?

The far left has been Saddam Hussein's most unwavering group of supporters: is Giuliana Sgrena consciously working against democratic/capitalist reform in the Middle East? Of course she is: she's a communist. Opposing capitalism is what communists do. And when was the last time communists worked for open and free elections after they had power?

As far as the US troops targeting her: She'd like to be so important.

Perhaps she should tell her story to Eason Jordan. Click here: My Way News

Thanks to: Click here: DRUDGE REPORT 2005®