Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Evening Edition

Oof! Went out to dinner with a group from Church to a Turkish place. Had some dish involving spicy lamb, yoghurt, pita and pilaf. (I know this description covers about 85% of Eastern Mediterranian cooking, but I simply cannot remember the actual name of the dish.) Boy, was it good. But now, I am absolutely stuffed and in no condition to go to bed. On the other hand, I currently have the cognitive power of Mr. L.F. Gumby, now appearing in the Thames near Wapping Steps. So please bear with me.

In the meantime, I usually try to take this late period to look at comments, check emails, do the rounds of my favorite sites. Tonight, the home computer seems to be acting up. It has a particular trick of deciding that once it can't find one address, it can't find any address. Plus, I can open haloscan only about 50% of the time. So if I don't respond to something, this is usually the reason. The thing is in one of its moods.

However, sitemeter is working tonight. And it tells me that we've had a terrific day today. What can I say except to once again express my delighted gratitude that anyone bothers to read these screeds. Thank you very, very much!

Yip! Yip! Yip!

Today's After 3:00 PM Half Price Specials

By now, all three of you are thinking to yourselves "Tom, where are they?" Well, sometimes these things just happen. Sorry 'bout that.

However, if you are looking for lots of linky tidbits, go on over to the special April Fools' edition of Carnival of the Vanities, hosted this week by Eric Berlin. Lots of silliness, lots of fun, lots of new faces.

Mad Al

No, not Gore, Franken. James Joyner picks up on Franken's op-ed piece in the LA Times.

As I have been saying for some time, the only folks this opus is going to attract are current NPR listeners. And judging by James' comments, Franken & Co are going out of their way to avoid as many of those as possible!

I'd like to start an Air-America Death Pool. I give these guys 6 months. Any other predictions?


I'm practically speechless. Lynn of Reflections in d minor triple-linked me today. (Here, here and here.) My very first linky trifecta!

Lynn smacks me around a bit for my flip remarks about Dvorak. Just for the record, I really do like his work too. I think something about his Eastern European origins shielded him from the overly-stale sophistication of, say, French composition of the period. His music (and I really only know a few symphonies and overtures) is fresh and lively, and at the same time, well grounded in tradition.

As for Vivaldi, well confess Lynn - you don't like all of his umpteen zillion concerti, do you? After all, many of them were just academic exercises which he used to fiddle around with different instrument arrangements.

BUT, when Vivaldi was good, he was very good. My personal favorites are from his L'Estro Armonico and La Stravaganza. Here is the recording I have, featuring one of my all time favorite groups, The English Concert under Trevor Pinnock.

Also, just to set the record straight, the bit about the EU and the Kyoto treaty Lynn quotes is actually out of the article that I quoted, not my own stuff. But her conclusion was the same as mine.


Maginot Candidate Watch

It's Daisy-Gate! Glenn has the round-up. What's the matter with all you people? Don't you know it's a reference to the Mystery Machine?

The mystery is why anyone would want this bozo to be president.

Heh, if I do say so myself.

Where the Forehead Meets the Desktop

Client insists on a sudden conference call this afternoon and then sends me the wrong !@#*&#((*& dial-in information. Grrrrrrr.......

UPDATE: All fixed. Kinda wish it wasn't. Zzzzzzz.

Hey, There He Is!

Welcome back to my fellow L-B'er Steve-O!

As for yours truly, just got back from a client lunch. Had venison in a swank Spanish place at 19th and Eye. Delish. Alas, however, more meeting stuff and an unscheduled conference call coming up, so blogging will probably be rather light until later.

Meanwhile, think Al Franken Radio is the most boring thing on the airwaves? Try Al Gore TV! Just thinking about it makes...me....zzzzzzzzzzz

Back to the surface, but not breathing yet...

The big project I've been working on for the United Way in our area goes in today; my eyeballs are about ready to pop out of my head from staring at Excel spreadsheets non-stop the past two weeks. In the end, we came up with data in 260 categories for four counties and two cities, as well as the state of Virginia and when relevant the US. All in all, it turned out to be pretty cool, but an enormous pain in the ass. I'm done with pro bono for quite awhile.

Anyhoo, I've done one blog related thing over the past few days, which is doing the spade work to get our arses off of blogger and into MT on our own domain.

We'll keep you posted, and thanks for the patience. Blogging has turned out to be more fun than I thought it would be.

We Call It Rope-a-Dope

But Michael Novak is calling it a mousetrap play.

Either way, I think Condi is gonna score big.

Today's Choice Cut

The messenger boy got through on his bike with this one. Go read Hitch on Clarke-Bait and Iraq. (That is, if you're through laughing about Bawbwa.) HT to Eric at Classical Values.

Ladies and Gentlemen

I give you the talented, the sparkling, the answer to all of your questions about the world around us......MEGA-BAWBWA!!!!

Share and Enjoy!


Today's Choice Cuts

Normally Sir, yes. Today the van broke down.

Back later.


Permalink Update

I emailed into Blogger support yesterday trying to get help with our permalinks. I pointed out to them that I had checked through the "How Do I Create Permanent Links To My Posts" section of their Knowledge Base and also that I had confirmed the permalink tags that come with Blogger's default templates were there intact.

This is the response I got:

If you have already included the line of code for permalinks included in the help article, you may need to republish your entire site in order for your changes to take effect.

Please see our Blogger Knowledge Base article for details:


But I haven't done anything that would require republishing. The code was there from the get-go. Was I supposed to do something with it? I am asking Blogger that question too, but would appreciate any help you guys could provide.

Remember, when it comes to the tech side of this stuff, I feel like the guy frantically trying to decide whether to cut the red wire or the blue wire while the clock winds down to 2 seconds.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Danger, Will Robinson!

If you don't care about classical music, for Heaven's sake - skip the post immediately below! We don't want to lose anyone who wanders in here to a MEGO moment, just because I indulged in some bloggy bloviating tonight! Scroll down a bit and you'll find all sorts of, well, stuff. Y'know... stuff.

That's us Llamas - always looking out for YOU!

Gratuitous Musical Post

For once, I did not squander the evening watching repeats of movies on television. Instead, I listened to music in my Fortress of Solitude. It's a funny thing - I often "play" certain pieces over in my mind. I have found that sometimes when I go for long periods without actually listening to the piece, it takes a while to readjust. It's almost as if the external physical presence of the sound gets in the way of the internal thought about the sound. Or as Mrs. Entity of Monty Python says, "So anyway, Beethoven was really rather glad when he went deaf."

Anyhoo, this evening I was listening to Haydn. "Papa" does not get anywhere near as much respect these days as he ought. I strongly suspect that this is because Haydn does not fit the modern model of what a composer should be - He started out from humble beginnings, worked like hell, caught some lucky breaks, paid close attention to what his audiences wanted, rose to fame and fortune, became insanely popular in his own time and lived to a ripe old age. Furthermore, all accounts concur that he was of a cheerful, kind-hearted temperament. This hardly comports with the model of the ar-Tiste as a tortured, lonely sole, unappreciated in his own time and wracked by internal divilment over his Art.

Nonetheless, I love Haydn. His keyboard works are of a nature that anyone with a given amount of talent can play and enjoy, even if they have a limited amount of time available for practice. His orchestral works are accessible to any audience with a reasonable amount of musical sense. At the same time, both keyboard and orchestral works can satisfy the tastes of even the most sophisticated listeners. Then there is the old story about his religious music. Haydn came in for a certain amount of criticism from the Church because his Masses were considered too "light-hearted." Haydn was supposed to have responded that he couldn't help it, because every time he thought of God, he was overwhelmed with a joy that translated into his music. In my opinion, this was just about half-way tongue in cheek. Just gives you an idea of the man's personality.

As for performances, I grew up listening to George Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Letter perfect, of course, but still a modern orchestra. I also had many recordings by Neville Marinner and the Academy of St. Martin's-In-The-Field that were safe, but rather pedestrian. These days, as I was blogging rather enthusiastically earlier, there are many more options. Adam Fischer and the Austro-Hungarian Orchestra are okay, although they have a slightly mushy sound. Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert are great for some of the earlier symphonies as are Peter Salomon and his group whose name I can't quite recall.

This evening, I listened to two pieces - the "Clock" Symphony, No. 101, and La Reine - Symphony No. 85.

The "Clock" was first performed in London in 1794 and is named as it is because of the pizzicato tick-tock effect in the second movement. (Beethoven's second piano sonata - Opus 2, No. 2 - which is dedicated to Haydn, also uses this effect. I am unaware of any keyboard works of Haydn's that do the same thing and often wonder if Beethoven adopted this technique as a tribute to this symphony.) I have a recording by Richard Hickox and Collegium Musicum 90, a first-rate period instrument group. Allow me to quote from the liner notes:

One of the most striking features of the twelve symphonies that Haydn composed for London between 1791 and 1795 is the strong sense of rapport between composer and the intended audience. Haydn was a celebrity and the daily newspapers are full of vivid descriptions of the concerts in which he took part. The composer never pandered to this popularity but nurtured it so that the tastes and enthusiasms of his audience were gradually developed. For Haydn, popularity went hand in hand with artistic integrity. (Emphasis mine. Try foisting that attitude on a modern day ar-Tiste. Or Britney Spears, for that matter.)


Symphony No. 101 received its first performance on 3 March, 1794, at the fourth of the twelve concerts that constituted "Mr. Salomon's Concert, Hanover Square." It was again the slow movement that captured the attention of Haydn's public, its ticking rhythms giving rise to the nickname 'Clock'. On this occasion the writer who wrote an account of the concert for the newspaper The Morning Chronicle isolated the technique what went with this gimmick: " The management of the accompaniment of the Andante, though perfectly simple, was masterly." There is hardly a bar in which the tick-tock rhythms are not present but their context embraces the naive, the decorative, the sublime (in the true eighteenth-century sense), the colorful and the flamboyant.

The other choice for the evening, Symphony No. 85, La Reine ("the Queen"), first performed in Paris in 1788, is on a CD I have by Bruno Weil and Tafelmusik, another crack period instrument group. This symphony was one of Haydn's "Paris" symphonies, written a bit earlier than his London works, but also insanely popular. No. 85 is called La Reine because it was reported to be a great favorite of Marie Antoinette. Allow me to again quote from the liner notes:

An extraordinary tale is connected with Marie Antoinette, imprisoned in The Temple with her husband and children:

"Another of those who came to the Temple was Lepitre, a young professor who became a member of the provincial Commune on December 2nd, 1792. With him on duty one morning was Toulan, a man who did all he could to make life more bearable for the royal family. There was a harpsichord by the door of Madame Elizabeth's room, which he tried to play, only to find it was badly out of tune. Marie Antoinette came up to him. ' I should be glad to use that instrument, so I can continue my daughter's lessons, but it is impossible in its present condition, and I have not succeeded in getting it tuned.' Lepitre and Toulan sent out a message, and the harpsichord was tuned the same evening.

As we were looking through the small collection of music that day, upon the instrument we found a piece called La Reine de France [Haydn's Symphony No. 85]. "Times have changed, " said Her Majesty, and we could not restrain our tears.

[John Hearsey, Marie Antoinette, 1974: 190]"

If that doesn't make you a bit teary, well, then you really shouldn't be reading this blog. But my defense of The Queen is for another day. The real point of this post is that you should be listening to Haydn. Go. Do it.

Red Ghost

Sheila O'Malley posts something I saw a little while back, but could not open at the time for some reason: A photojournal by a Kievian motorcycle girl named Lena who has spent several years now cruising around what is left of Chernobyl, taking pictures.

Every single pixel of these snaps screams "Soviet" at me. There isn't a single frame that does not bear silent testimony to the wretched cruelty, incompetence, corruption and perversity of this disastrous experiment in 20th Century totalitarianism. God help those hundreds of thousands of people who suffered as a direct result of Chernobyl, together with the millions upon millions who suffered from the Soviets overall. And God damn those who caused the suffering.

Sorry. Didn't mean to bloviate. But the next time you hear some snarky moonbat singing the praises of Communism, just remember what you see when you link to Lena's site. Then punch the bastard.

Blogging Note

We have received a new round of irate fan mail telling us to fix the @(*#$&*@ permalinks. Blogger has been notified. We'll let you know what happens.


Llama Yips!

YIP! YIP! YIP! to Willow for blogrolling us!

I know that everyone who reads us also checks in for (Ed. - No, you cannot use the expression "Frequent Whomping") um, Lively Prose and Scathing Wit over at Willow's place. Right? Right?

UPDATE: Okay, now I'm seriously blushing. Shucks, indeed.

Brave Sir Robin

Miguel Angel Morantinos, the incoming Socialist foreign minister in Spain, has a piece in today's Wall Street Journal. (Sorry, I read the dead tree version, so I have no linkage on this.) Most of it is Euro-Weenie clap-trap, but one paragraph caught my eye in particular:

As for Iraq, Spain will cease to have "occupation forces" there on June 30, whether it is because the U.N., at the request of a legitimate Iraqi government, assumes authority and constitutes a new international force; or simply because our troops will withdraw. The decision will be coordinated with the other countries present in Iraq, and will have the support of the Spanish parliament. This was our firm electoral promise, a contract with our citizens that no terrorist can make us breach. (Emphasis added.)

Boy, that'll show 'em! We're running away and there's not a damn thing you can do about it!

"Close The Casket Lid - I'm Decomposing!"*

A collection of musical jokes brought to you courtesy of John at TexasBestGrok. Some of these are quite good.

From the evident bitterness towards players of various instruments, I'm reminded of Bertie Wooster's description of a violin solo he was forced to attend (I quote from imperfect memory): "I don't remember much. It was loud in some spots and less loud in other spots and, like all other violin solos I've ever heard, seemed to go on longer than it actually did."

I also remember this one: The Irish invented the bagpipes in the 11th Century and gave them to the Scots. The Scots still haven't caught on to the joke.

(*The punch line to a joke I first heard as a kid. The music lover goes to Beethoven's grave, digs up the coffin and looks inside. There he finds Beethoven furiously erasing sheet after sheet of music scores. Beethoven looks up and says - )

Europe Discovers the Price Tag!

It's one thing to sit around the salons gassing (as it were) about Global Warming. It's something else entirely, to ask people to pay to do something about it, as the EU seems to be discovering.

Favorite graph(s):

But Europe's auto and electric industries recently warned of a slowdown in growth if they are forced to invest in clean energy technologies. The warnings come as the EU has acknowledged that it's falling further behind in its plan to match the US in productivity, employment, and growth.

Those kinds of warnings about slow growth are what compelled the US Senate, and President Bush, to reject Kyoto. If Europe now backpedals, the global effort to influence climate change will be driven mainly by the market, as car buyers and the auto industry choose to become less polluting. And Europe will lose its claim to global leadership in pushing Kyoto.

It could just be that government inducements, such as tax credits, may be preferable over tough regulation on greenhouse gases.

No sh**, Jacques.

Unfortunately, the piece can't resist continuing with some reflexive hand-wringing:

But then, would that pace of change be fast enough to slow down climate change? The science is not clear yet on whether the temperature trend could be reversed even if the whole world went full bore to reaching Kyoto's targets.

In fact, the science is not clear yet on whether human beings have anything at all to do with climate change. Given that, it's nice to see that the EU is actually having second thoughts about the genuine harm that would result from trashing their economies in an effort to stave off a theoretical threat.

Eye Condi

(Sorry, can't resist.)

So it looks as if Condi is going to testify after all. I suppose that, politically, this has become necessary, although I worry about the precedent. Evidently, the White House does too, which is why they are negotiating so intensely with the 9/11 Commission over the out-of-bounds markers.

So you think the Left is happy that Condi has been flushed out of her WH Spider Hole? Guess again! Michelle at A Small Victory has been sampling moonbat reaction. Heh, indeed.

My gut feeling: Condi Rice is extremely intelligent, extremely poised and extremely good looking. From what I've seen, she also has a very strong case to refute the wilder accusations that Clarke-Bait has been hurling around. She might just turn into the Oliver North of this whole dog-and-pony show. That would be a disaster for the Left. (If you're too young to remember the Iran-Contra Hearings, I just don't want to know about it.)

We'll see.

UPDATE: Viking Pundit has reaction from around the blogsphere. I swear on my children's heads that I did not see Bill Hobbs' comments before I threw in my two cents above.

FURTHER UPDATE: The Commissar is ready to go into Purge-Mode.

Wanker Of The Week Award

Goes to this guy.

That is all.

Go Back To Bed, Dammit!

A story about kids and parents not getting enough sleep. Stop the presses!

One figure that caught my eye: About 69 percent of the children in the households surveyed were said to experience sleep problems a few nights a week. Common problems included difficulty falling asleep, sleepwalking, snoring, resisting going to bed and breathing difficulties.

69 percent? That seems awfully high to me. And is snoring really a "sleep problem"? I suppose it depends on the severity.

I am thankful to say that our kids have always been very sound sleepers and they are invariably out within about 10 minutes of being put to bed. I attribute this in part to the fact that we are real Bedtime Nazis. 8:00 PM. In bed. No excuses. Period. It probably also has something to do with the fact that they run flat out on all cylinders all day.

The hard part is the running battle we have with the older two about when they can come in and snuggle in the morning. Saturday mornings especially can get ugly sometimes.

As for parental sleep time, 8 or 9 hours? Yeah, right. Closer to 6 for me.


Mor-ton assesses the impact of the Clarke Missile on Fortress Bush and concludes that, if not exactly a dud, it certainly wasn't enough to breach the walls.

In the end, I'm not even sure if it's going to chip the mortar very much.

HT to Viking Pundit.

More Sad Death News

Very sorry to see that Alistair Cooke died. I remember him primarily as the host of Masterpiece Theatre, back in the days when it was worth watching. At the same time, I can't quite shake from my brain the Monty Python bit (from one of the albums) in which Eric Idle plays Cooke getting attacked by a duck.

As usual, Laurence Simon has a tasteful, understated tribute as he updates the tally on his Dead Pool.

Today's Choice Cuts

A chilly, dreary day in Your Nation's Capitol, with rain moving in later and forecast to stick around for a couple of days. But that's okay, because the Yankees lost their season opener this morning - and to the Devil Rays at that! Ha, ha! Die Yankee Scum!

Ah. Well, now that that's out of the way, here is what the Llama Butchers are reading this morning.


Looks like despite the flap over the 9/11 hearings and incessant pounding by the Dems, the latest polls are showing a Bush Boost. To its credit, CNN for once isn't burying the story, but has it right out on the top of its home page. That should make Eric the Viking happier. Glenn also relays an interesting longer term graph. We need to get Steve-O in here with another one of his Election Futures Reports.

Meanwhile, Bill Whalen over at the Weekly Standard has a different set of election stats that I strongly suspect are going to make the Hoover Institution wonder exactly why it is paying him such an enormous stipend.

Oh, and speaking of the Campaign, check out the new Kerry Gas Tax Increase Calculator. According to this, a Kerry election would cost me better than $200 per year in extra gas taxes. No thanks.


Speaking of the 9/11 flap, George Will sticks the proverbial fork in Clarke and suggests it's time to forget this silly little man. Rich Lowry, however, wants to administer a few more kicks to the ribs.


Donald Luskin has a new edition of the Krugman Truth Squad up in which he reports some possible good news about changes in the NY Times' policies regarding corrections to editorials. It has to be said that none of this would have happened but for the rising power of the Blogsphere. (Here is more on the story from The National Debate. Well done, indeed. Keep up the good work!


Forgot to mention this yesterday, but after getting fed up with Andrew's hand-wringing, National Review's Katherine J. Lopez finally called him on it and asked that he go ahead and declare his support for Kerry. (We need to check and see if she entered Dr. Horsefeather's pool on the Defection Date - this kind of interference might get her disqualified.) Well, K-Lo managed to provoke an uncharacteristic outburst of pomposity on Andrew's part.

All I can say is lighten up, Francis.


And to end on an up note, it looks like the Good Guys have scored a big success in London. It also seems that some baddies were nailed in the Phillipines.

Good day, y'all.

Snark Alert

I found myself watching Broken Arrow again on FX last night. After all, it's one of those movies that Guys Have To Watch when they come on. (Like, say, Patton or High Plains Drifter, or Die Hard 3.)

I find that it is absurdly enjoyable to watch Christian Slater toughing it out with John Travolta while bearing in mind that Slater got beat up by his wife recently. Heh, as they say.

And speaking of Hollywood distortions, the Butcher's Wife was none too pleased when I recently suggested that her devotion to Andrew McCarthy effectively made her a Fan Club of One. (Don't tell her, but I plan on getting her a copy of Mannequin for her birthday. And damn if Kim Cattrall isn't in that one, too! Suddenly this woman has managed to time warp herself back into all sorts of goofy 80's flicks that I used to enjoy - Porky's, Police Academy. Personally, I think she's a nasty piece of work.)

Where was I? Oh, yes. Well anyway, The BW is now claiming that the WaPo recently refered to McCarthy as an 80's heart-throb, or words to that effect, and therefore vindicates her taste. All I can say is, gee, if Pravda on the Potomac says it's true, it must be.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Family Values

Here are some stats on what people in the United States consider to be the ideal family size. It seems the magic number has shrunk somewhat in the past thirty years. HT to Dean, who is quite crabby about this shift in attitude and blames it on the faux-scientific hysteria of the zero-population growth crowd.

He's not just making this up, either. I once had a moonbat tell me that if having three kids was the reason I bought an SUV, then maybe I shouldn't have had three kids. At the time, I just stared in disbelief. Like which one would he have suggested I send back?

People who think that the personal is political can be so tarsome.

Clarke-Bait Update

Bill at INDC Journal picks up on Gregg Easterbrook's assessment of the 9/11 Hearings. (I guess this is how Gregg keeps himself in Spagettios while Tuesday Morning Quarterback is on hiatus.)

I agree with Gregg and Bill about the futility of hindsight-based finger-pointing. Also, even if we did have hard information about the impending threat prior to the attack, consider this scenario: It's late spring/early summer of 2001. The crisis d'jour is Bush's decision to freeze some last-minute Clinton tightening of environmental regulations. (You remember how Bush wanted to put arsenic in our drinking water?) Political enemies - still fresh with fury over the Supreme Court decision and raw over Dubya's recent swearing in, are looking for any way possible to delegitimize his presidency.

Can you imagine what would have happened if we all woke up one morning to learn that Dubya was having hundreds of Arabs rounded up in the United States and had started pounding the hell out of Afganistan in an effort to wipe out Al Qaeda? Can you even contemplate the combination of rage, hysteria and laughter that would have erupted even had he stood up to the podium and announced that the reason for these measures was that we had credible evidence of what was coming?

Cor lumme! They'd have hooted! They'd have booed! They'd have called him a liar, a moron and a fascist and moved immediately for his impeachment. They'd have chased him up a tree and set fire to it!

The truth is that prior to 9/11 the United States simply did not have the political will to go on the offensive against Al Qaeda, no matter how much intelligence was available. And that's pretty much what is coming out in the hearings.

High-Tech Ambulance Chasing

Yeesh. I am very, very glad that I don't do this kind of work. Not that one doesn't hustle for clients in a regulatory practice, but there's a difference between pitching a corporation to represent them before a government agency and this sort of thing.

Today's After 3:00 PM Half Price Specials

Here's your tasty little dish of Llama Niblets (Ed. - wha? Don't ask) for this afternoon:


Actually, it's Good Morning, Mesopotamia, but I don't want to get tagged for copyright infringement. Rich Galen has his latest report from Iraq. As I think I mentioned, a colleague of mine has just gone over. Last we heard he had arrived safely and all was well. My colleague is a card-carrying moonbat. I hope he takes a good look at the folks in Rich's photos and remembers who's covering his scrawny little backside while he's gaining fame and fortune turning the place into a genuine Civilized Country.


Meanwhile, check out Pejman's post on Iraq's answer to Tokyo Rose. Did this chick work for Baghdad Bob?


The World's Scariest Website is positively giddy it its belief that we have nailed both Osama and Zawahiri. Well, it sure beats their regular predictions.

HT to Allah.


You probably heard about Terry McCauliffe's doormat, featuring a picture of Dubya and the legend "Give Bush the Boot." Well, the Commissar noticed as certain charming precedent. Does this put McCauliffe in violation of UN Resolutions? Can we start the bombing? Huh? Can we?


In a complete gear-shift, everyone go congratulate Dana of Note-It Posts, who is trying to figure out how to make the transition from man-to-man to zone defense.

And speaking of Domestic Bliss, Laurence at Amish Tech Support has some harsh words for purveyors of the Dysfunction Racket. I concur. Looking at my own family, I'm tempted to quote the Psychiatrist from Fawlty Towers who says of Basil, "There's enough material there for an entire conference." But this is not a clinical condition necessitating drugs, therapy and social-services meddling, it's just who we are. We like it.

Oh, and while we're at ATS, Carnival of the Cats? To quote Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein, "You're putting me on!"


Farm Accident Digest has the raw material for the next Sci-Fi Horror Flick. I'm already looking forward to the sequel, where they mate with Vampire Bats and start flying around attacking people. Think I'm being unrealistic? It's happened before!


James has been assimilated. Resistance is futile. We are the Blorg.

Now We Know

Take the Hey Hey, Which Monkee Are You? Quiz.

HT to Eric at
Classical Values, who is also a member of the PT Club.

Gratuitous Domestic Blogging (TM) - Lunchtime Version

My six year old is turning into a voracious reader. Saturday afternoon, we were driving down to the hardware store when she suddenly focused on the back of the Fairfax County Virginia sticker on my windshield. (In contravention of all Safety-Nazi rules, she often rides in the front seat of my jeep for short trips.)

"Daddy, what does "Taxes due by Oct. 5, 2004" mean?"

I explained to her what the personal property tax was and then went on to a larger discourse about the purpose of taxes in general: "Taxes are money we pay to the government so the government can do its job."

"Oh. Does the government take all our money?"

"Not yet, Sweety. Not yet."

Sad News

Ustee is dead. One of my all time favorite "characters" who also happened to be a brilliant actor.

Not sure if the judges would agree, but I always thought of Spartacus as one of the truly bad films of all time. John Dall, who plays Glabrus (Crassus' mentee) turns in one of the worst performances in the history of cinema. And I never cease to laugh when Tony Curtis gets to the line about teaching "da Classics." As for the rest of it, well, it's mostly 60's Big Budget Hokum.

BUT. There are some great bits. The deployment of Crassus' legions for the big battle at the end is one of the high spots of epic film. And, what I really meant to say when I started this, Peter Ustinov is superb as Lentulus. If you ever find yourself watching this movie again, just ignore all the Kirk Douglas side of it and focus on Ustinov, Laurence Olivier (Crassus) and Charles Laughton (Gracchus). Two scenes stand out in particular - one, where Crassus and Lentulus are in Crassus' tent discussing where and how to find Spartacus. The other is a dinner scene where Lentulus and Gracchus discuss the attractiveness of fat men. Both scenes leave me in stitches.

Ustee had that Olivier-like quality of playing himself and his character at the same time. Whether it was Prince John, Hercule Poirot or Charlie Chan, you could believe the character and appreciate the craft of the actor simultaniously. Not many can do that. And in this age of celebrity for its own sake, it's an art that is not encouraged much.

Sad news, indeed.


Okay, one more. James Joyner relays a piece about the puzzling yet enduring popularity of Scooby-Doo. Certainly a tough one for the Mystery Machine.

My theory: Casey Kasem, who did Shaggy's voice, long ago signed a pact with the devil. This would also explain the success of Super Friends and Mister Magoo, to say nothing of his umpteen weekend radio countdown shows.

There is no other plausible explanation.

BTW, if you ever get a chance to see the Johnny Bravo episode where he meets Scoob and the Gang, do it. Hi-larious.

"Sorry, Shorty"* Watch

Okay, just a quick one. Steyn has a great one about Clarke-Bait today. Go read.

*Richard Clarke is now in the position of Shorty from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Scroll down to last Friday for further details if the reference is unclear.


Monday morning here at the Butcher Shop and I'm still in the process of putting my head back together. We hosted a big party for the 20's/30's crowd from our Church last evening. We're Episcopalians, which means we spent the whole time trading insider stock tips and arguing about how the Decalogue was really just a list of suggestions. Oh, and of course, drinking. Lots of that.

Most of the people there had small kids, which we herded into the basement and out into the yard, shepharded by a trio of babysitters. I have often floated the idea of having a baby-swapping party: Everyone tosses their child's pacifier into a big bowl when they arrive. When the evening ends, there is a blind drawing and you take home the kid who's binky you have pulled. I think this idea is beginning to catch on.

Anyhoo, between actually throwing the party and spending most of the weekend preparing for it and then having to clean up after it, I'm pretty burned out this morning. And behind on my reading. Which means the Choice Cuts (TM) will have to wait till lunchtime.

But I can't leave you empty-handed, so I will just throw this out: Saturday night, I finally saw "Lost in Translation." As I had read elsewhere, the movie itself was pretty slight. But the remarkable thing was this - I could not take my eyes off of Bill Murray's face. His range of expression is as wide as it is subtle. Amazing.

Good day, y'all.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Best new website I've come across in ages

An old student who is now in law school in Chicago asked in an email how life post-tenure was going, whether I was having too much fun or minding my own bidness.

I wanted to quote Godfather 1 to her, but needed precision: two seconds on google turned up this website, complete with WAV files attached.

So now, I'm attaching this to emails whenever I need to make myself clear.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Bad Movie Inquiry

This is mostly for Liz and the gang, but anyone else is welcome to chip in:

I'm trying to remember the name of a movie I once saw long ago. Dunno if it was a big screen flick, but I'm inclined to believe it was.

The basic plot, from what I could gather, was set during the Cold War. There was some kind of nuclear explosion in the United States which was thought to have killed the President and most of his cabinet. This left the Secretary of, I think, Agriculture thinking he was the senior government rep alive, so he assumed the Presidency. (All this time, he was cruising around on an Air Force One-like jet.) Gradually, he works himself up into thinking that he has to launch a nuclear strike on the Russians. In the process, he starts to get delusional with power. Meantime, it becomes increasingly clear that the real President is not dead, and also that what had been thought to be a first strike by Russia was really some kind of accident or rogue event.

Somehow or other, there is another government jet chasing the Ag Sec's. It can't catch his, because they are the same type and both running at max speed. But as the Sec gets more and more bananas, the pilots realize he is going to start a war and divert the Sec's plane sufficiently out of its path to allow the other one to catch it up and ram it. The movie ends with the real prez talking to his Russian counterpart on the hotline, and everyone else calming down.

This sound familiar to anyone? I forget everyone who was in it, but I have an idea that the Prez was played by some Big Dog of an actor. Olivier comes to mind, but that couldn't be right.

Let me know. Thanks.


The gels were fooling about with play-dough this afternoon, and my six year old had made a couple of people figures that she kept marrying to each other. At one point, I overheard her say, "They have to do what I want because I am their God!"

What have we created?

The Perfect Philosophical Question for a Rainy Saturday Afternoon

What's more fun than shooting at Nazis? Blackfive has the answer.

HINT: It involves beer.

Personally, I've been playing a lot of Mob Rule lately, which is like an evil SimCity.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Richard Clarke Goes To The Movies

I had a sudden flash this evening. Just hear me out.

Thinking about the latest twist, it suddenly occured to me that Clarke-Bait must be feeling rather like Shorty from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, as, with the noose around his neck, the horse was whipped out from under him and Clint Eastwood failed to shoot him down. I simply cannot believe that anyone would be so....stooopid.. as to set himself up like that unless he believed that a Guardian Angel was going to save him from his fate. With the announced efforts to disclose Clarke's previous House testimony for a friendly game of compare and contrast with what he's saying now, it looks like it may be too late for this. "Sorry, Shorty."

Of course, the allusion only goes so far. The Repubs are hardly Tuco. And I would not care to equate whoever the Dem mastermind is behind all of this with Clints' Blondie. But insofar as Clarke is the dupe, er, hung out to dry when things go wrong....well, it works.

Llama Yips!

We just wanted to take the opportunity to thank all y'all (as we used to say in Texas) for your continued and growing support of our little opus. We are coming off the best week we've had yet in terms of hits. If I read the sitemeter data correctly, we've got a core constituency of about a dozen to fifteen loyal readers who like to come down the shop three or four times a day. On top of that the amount of "walk in" traffic is growing steadily as well, as folks pick up links and blogroll references from other sites. Plus, some of the Big Boys are beginning to acknowledge our existence. Okay, so we ain't Glenn or Stephen, but this is the way small businesses get their legs. We are truly gratified by your patronage.

So what can we say, other than to quote the King: Uh, Thangyuh. Thangyuh verrah mush.


Beer Me

How well do you know your beer bottles? Try this test. I only got three of the damm things, which shows how much beer I actually drink.

Time for a glass of wine.

HT to Lawren Mills.

Speaking of the President

John Hawkins tells GOP'ers to loosen up - Our Man is going to do just fine. (HT to Viking Pundit.)

On the other hand, this puts me in mind of a post the NE Repub put up the other day relaying Dick Morris's opinion that the Maginot Candidate is going to tank hard. I always feel the need to wash my hands after reading Morris, and I sure wouldn't buy a used car from him. But this is, after all, what he does.

You're So.....Hurtful!

Ouch. It looks as if Clarke-Bait is about to get his fingers caught in the vise of conflicting Congressional testimony. Glenn has a post. The New England Republican has more.

Now I just got through listening to the moonbat in the office next to me rant about how all of this is somehow nothing more than some eviiiiil Republican plot to crush a tiny bug that has dared to thwart the Sith Lord of the White House. Explain to me, please, how determining whether someone who is accusing the President of the worst possible incompetence or corruption has changed his testimony concerning his knowledge of relevant events, and using records of his own words to make such a determination, constitutes a "plot."

Bueller? Bueller? Anybody?

Daddy Posting

Amongst this weeks Carnival entries is one from J. Fielek of Man Meets Baby, who just found out he (well, his wife) is having a girl. He offers some thoughts about how he hopes to raise his pending daughter.

Well, I have three little girls myself. And it occurred to me that someone had sent me, a looooong while back, a nifty, relevant, email on the subject. I have no earthly idea where this came from originally, but I pass it on for the benefit of Mr. Fielek, myself, and anyone else in our position:

Ten Rules For Dating My Daughter(s)

Rule One: If you pull into my driveway and honk, you'd better be delivering a package, because you are sure not picking anything up.

Rule Two: You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her, so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off my daughter's body, I will remove them for you.

Rule Three: I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips. Please don't take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open-minded about this issue, so I propose a compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear showing and your pants ten sizes too big, and I will not object. However, to ensure that your clothes do not, in fact, come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my electric nail gun and fasten your trousers securely in place to your waist.

Rule Four: I'm sure you've been told that in today's world, sex without utilizing a "barrier method" can kill you. Allow me to elaborate: when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.

Rule Five: In order for us to get to know each other, we should talk about sports, politics and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is "early."

Rule Six: I have no doubt that you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to date other girls. Frankly, I would much rather that you did. However, if you absolutely must go out with my little girl, you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make you cry.

Rule Seven: As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time for the movie, you should not be dating. My daughter is putting on her make-up, a process that can take longer than painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Instead of just standing there, you may demonstrate to me why I should tolerate your existence by such acts as, say, changing the oil in my car.

Rule Eight: The following places are not appropriate for a date with my daughter: places where there are beds, sofas or anything softer than a wooden stool. Places where there are no parents, policemen or nuns within sight. Places where there is darkness. Places where there is dancing, holding hands or happiness. Places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to induce my daughter to wear shorts, tank tops, midriff T-shirts, or anything other than overalls, a sweater and a goose-down parka zipped up to her throat. Movies with a strong romantic or sexual theme are to be avoided; movies which feature chainsaws wielded on unsuspecting teenage girls by males of your age group and general appearance are okay. Hockey games are okay. Old folks' homes are better.

Rule Nine: Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a potbellied, balding, middle-aged, dimwitted has-been, but on issues relating to my daughter I am the all-knowing, merciless and vengeful God of your universe. If I ask you where you are going and what you will be doing, you have one very brief chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel and five acres behind the house. Do not dare to trifle with me.

Rule Ten: Be afraid. Be very, very afraid. It takes very little for me to mistake the sound of your car in the driveway for a chopper coming in over a rice paddy outside of Da Nang. When my Agent Orange starts acting up, the voices in my head frequently tell me to clean the guns as I wait for you to bring my daughter home. The moment you pull into the driveway, you should exit your car with both hands held high over your head. Speak the perimeter password, announce that you have brought my daughter safely home, then return to your car and leave immediately once she has exited the vehicle. Do not attempt to come inside or even follow her to the door. The camouflaged face in the window is mine, as is the ruby red beam of laser-light targeted directly at the center of your chest.

Works for me.

Arrgg! Prepare for boarding!

I've been somewhat AWOL the past couple of days as I'm trying to put the finishing touches on a project I've been doing for our local United Way for, oh, the past year. What we are doing is taking their Index of Caring Model, which assesses a whole variety of social issues and compiles the data so to compare individual states, and gather the data to get an honest and [relatively] accurate sense of how our area falls on the continuum. Easier said then done, of course. One thing that showed up rather quickly is the lingering effect of school segregation, when you measure things such as percentages of the population without a high school degree.

Anyhoo, hopefully this will be done in the next 24 or so, and relative snarkiness can continue...

Extra Bonus Happy Friday Linky Time

This week's Carnival of the Vanities is up (and has been) over at Pete Holiday's site. Go on over and poke around. Meet some new people. Just don't nod, that's all.

Insert "Oy Vey" Joke Here

Ian Andrew Dodge relays the perks of owning a kosher computer.

So, heh already.

Allah Is In The House

Check out these great pics.

The Cranky Cassandra

Wow. Check out what Flo King has to say about gay marriage. The punch line is that she said it in 1996.

A Bloggy Broadside From The Captain

I went for the Clarke-Bait Update. I stayed for Better Health Through Nose-Picking and a rare glimpse of brass-balled Anglicanism.

HT to the New England Republican for laying off the course.

Carnival of the Blorg - Week 5

Yes, it's time once again to assimilate fresh new blogs that I have not seen before, but that catch my fancy for one reason or another as likely to be beneficial to the Collective. Remember, don't just flip past them - click on over and have a look yourself.

Today's host is Lynn of Reflections in d minor, who has one hell of an eclectic blogroll. (Thanks for adding us, btw, YIP! YIP!) I heartily recommend going and looking at all of it. In the meantime, these are my quick personal picks. I'd love to see the looks on some of these folks' faces when their Google or Technorati searches lead them to this place! Mwa-ha-ha-haaaaa! (Ed. - If you're going with this stupid Blorg thing, you're out of character. Shut up.)


A number of goodly musical blogs. Want to check out the rough and lawless world of unaccompanied singing? Check out the A Capella News, a round up of everything from Thomas Tallis and Anonymous 4 to Homer Simpson and his friends singing "Mr. Sandman."

I was bloviating the other day about issues surrounding modern composition and performance. In response, Rocket Jones directed my attention to an outfit called Symphony X that concerns itself with ways to bring Classical music to a wider audience. Well, small world, here they are. (The site seems to be on the fritz a bit, but you can poke around to different posts via comments.)

And here are some great source sites that I'm sure Dad will want to bookmark: The Mozart Project, Bach Central Station, Beethoven, and, if you're feeling a little fringy - Vivaldi & Dvorak (who I like, but am surprised someone else likes enough to make the centerpiece of a website).


And I mean that in the best way. Go over and check out Captain Yips. I particularly like his references to the Bishes and "Friends of Gene." My own Rector is a card-carrying member of that particular club.

Meanwhile, the Pious Agnostic, apparently a huge fan of Lileks, has lots of good things to say. Scroll down a bit to see a photo of an anti-American, er, I mean, anti-war protestor that gave me an almost irresistible urge to incur bodily harm.

The Peeve Farm seems to be growing a bumper crop of dope-slaps this season.

I went for The Cheese Stands Alone because of the name. But I stayed for this little gem which, I'm sure, will make the Butcher's Wife smile.

And carrying the banner for the Right, check out Dissecting Leftism, which comes to us from Down Under. I don't think he concerns himself overmuch with giving his subjects anesthesia.

Meanwhile, Inappropriate Response is following the continuing saga of Kennewick Man, a cautionary tale about the flashpoint between science and identity politics.


Several nifty sites devoted to the Classics. Check out Rogue Classicism for all kinds of cultural references from both now and then. Sorry about the martyrdom, Castalus! Hope it gets better!

Meanwhile, fresh to R in dM, here is BlogLatin. I loved Latin in school and always regret not going for a Classics major in college. Ah well. Look on my face. My name is Might Have Been.

And speaking of modern classics, I stumbled across the New Criterion website skulking in the blogroll. That one goes on ours as well. It'll really class up the joint.


As an English major who long ago lost his gruntle and likes to indulge in correcting people's grammar, I am particularly pleased to highlight for you The Discouraging Word.

Meanwhile, also have a look at Language Hat, which seems devoted to a broad array of linguistic issues. I was particularly interested by the McGurk Effect. Try working that one into your next cocktail party conversation.


I went to Whiskey River expecting something involving poker chips and steers, one-eyed scouts and mysterious Railroad Men, Miss Kitty and Indian raids, Saturday night fights and claim-jumping. I was wrong. I was so wrong.

On the other hand, Badgett's Coffee eJournal delivers the goods. I have seen the Promised Land, Beavis. And it is Good.

Assimilation complete. Resistance is futile. We are the Blorg.

Ish In Da Hole!

Bad luck seems to be haunting Tiger Woods at the moment. In a way, this is a good thing. Keeps him honest and humble. I think this is especially important for someone who rose so fast and who has so much pure talent. A successful golfing career is a long-haul proposition. To borrow a quote from another sport, "Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. And sometimes it rains."

Many golfers storm on to the scene as God's Gift to the Links, only to flame out. Some of them don't handle it well. (See Daly, John.) Although I was initially apprehensive, given the hype surrounding his own arrival, I think Tiger will do fine now. He's a Golfer, not a prima donna. He "plays the game," as it were. These little bad patches, although frustrating at the time, will help him focus and keep him cool.

Mark my words, Tiger is going to be winning green jackets when I'm in my wheelchair setting the attack-badgers on the grandkids.

You Are All Unique! - I'm not - SHHH!

I've seen this a few places, but wanted to remind everyone that, indeed, Life of Brian is coming back to the Big Screen. Unfortunately, it seems as if the film's distributors are trying to set up a faux "controversy" between Python and Mel Gibson's Passion in order to flog ticket sales. From this article, it looks as if the Beeb is going along with the hype.

Dean, from whom I borrowed the story, thinks this is all a lot of rubbish. So do I. The film mocks human absurdity, not Christian doctrine. Indeed, the single, brief appearance of Christ in the film is, in my mind, really rather complimentary - a single figure of calm sanity in an otherwise mad, mad, mad, mad world.

Since I'm on the topic, my favorite scenes in the flick are the Latin lesson - where Cleese's centurion catches Brian painting grammatically-incorrect graffiti, and the stoning scene where everyone attacks each other for saying "Jehovah." The look of sad disbelief on the Roman guard's faces speaks volumes - and is really a pretty historically accurate summary of Rome's frustration in dealing with Judea.

Personally, I rather prefer Holy Grail to Life of Brian - I think the dialogue is snappier and there are fewer longuers. But it's a close call.

Maginot Candidate Watch

Eric the Viking has an excellent post this morning that catches out the haughty, French-looking Massachusetts Liberal, who by the way served in Vietnam, in his shifting definition of a "vote."

Heh, indeed.

Today's Choice Cuts

Friday comes once again to the Butcher's Shop. Just so you know, it's supposed to hit 76 degrees here in Your Nation's Capitol today - 76 degrees! Woo, Ah say, Whoo-Hoo!!

So with the sap on the rise, let's take a dekko at what the Llama Butchers are reading this morning.


Mom's Favorite Columnist sums up everything that is wrong with this miserable little man who is forcing us all to indulge him in his fifteen minutes while we have much more important things to worry about elsewhere. Meanwhile, Lileks fisks the WaPo's softball coverage of the 9/11 dog-and-pony show and asks just why the hell we're watching it. Punch line quote:

And I bring this up . . . why? Because I want to blame the Clinton administration? Look: to me that's ancient history. That's Flintstone time. If it weren't for these hearings I wouldn't give a tin fig for who didn't do what when and where. September Eleventh was the bright red gash that separated the Now from the La-la Then, and we've been living in the hot spiky Now ever since. I am interested in the Now and the What Next. I don't have much patience for people who believe that the salvation of Western Civilization depends on hiking the marginal tax rates to pre-2002 levels. But if you want to play Eight Years vs. Eight Months, fine. Just remember that before 9/11, the skies over Afghanistan were clear. After 9/11, they thrummed with the sound of B-52s until the job was done.

Now go read the rest. Meanwhile, Glenn has the latest comprehensive round-up of Clarke's self-immolation here, here and here.

What continues to amaze me - and to illustrate the ever-widening "knowledge gap" between Those of the 'Sphere and Those of the Old Media - is that most of the people who rely on television and newspaper coverage with whom I discuss this matter don't have the faintest idea about many of these facts. So while it's great that we blog back and forth on the topic, I hope you're also going out and enlightening non-bloggy folks too. Well, are you?

UPDATE: Cox & Forkum have more, including, as usual, a wicked cartoon.


I can't think of anyone else who so persistently captures the Big Picture as does
VDH. Go. Read. What else is there to say?

AIR AMERICAzzzzzzz......

David Skinner over at the Weekly Standard does a weigh-in between Al Franken and El Rushbo. I don't think it's going to be much of a contest - Franken's likely audience will be nothing more than current NPR listeners enraged that Bob Edwards is getting the axe.

Meanwhile, Eloise the Spitbull reports on the first fruits of the Franken Experience's efforts to bring diversity to radio. Heh.


George Will has a piece on Rep. Jim DeMint - a likely Republican contender this fall for Fritz Hollings' senate seat. DeMint sounds like an old-fashioned Conservative from the first flower of the Reagan Revolution. While reading about him, I suddenly found myself wondering why we shouldn't limit the franchise to people who actually pay taxes. Okay, okay. I need some more coffee.


Sheila O'Malley relays a report on the insanity surrounding bullying in schools. What happens when you mix irresponsible parents, CYA-ing school systems, and monster kids savvy at gaming the system? Well, this. (Be sure to remove all sharp objects from your immediate work surface before proceeding to bang.)

On the other hand, at least we're not dealing with this.


(Oh, I'm so very witty sometimes!) Most of you probably know that Steven Green likes to post recipes. Well, I flag his entry for Caesar Salad in part because it's the first one I'm going to try and also because it sounds very much like the formula my parents use. Just reading about the garlic is making me drool - I'd brush my teeth with garlic-flavored toothpaste if it was socially acceptable. (And since I've been married nearly 11 years, I can laugh off Stephen's first-date warning. The Missus will understand.)


The ever-delightful Meghan Cox Gurdon weighs in on the trials and tribulations of kids' lunchboxes. You want to talk about your WMD? Try opening one of these babies after it's been sitting in the car all afternoon with the remains of a lunch still inside!

Good day, y'all.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Question for the Floor

Did the geniuses who came up with this remember this? I mean, is this deliberate lefty snarkiness or is it just clueless coincidence?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Mea Culpa

Yes, I know, you're all eagerly glued to your monitors. You're developing carpal tunnel syndrome clicking the refresh button with your mouses (mice? meece?). You're throwing away time you could be strolling in the sunshine. Por qua? Because you're waiting for this week's Carnival of the Blorg. Right? Right?

Well, it's like this. I got the idea the other day to do a "meatspace" version of the COB. My target was going to be Reen's DC Metro Blogmap. Pretty clever, eh? Folks round my own neighborhood, what?

So much for clever intentions. There are definitely some interesting blogs on the map, but then again, there are some, er, non-interesting ones too. Plus some just plain weird ones. Plus a lot of dead links. All in all, it just didn't gel. (BTW, where are YOU on this thing, Bill? I know you're around here somewhere...)

Anyways, I only had a carefully allotted ration of time in which to play with the thing and rather than serve up something half-assed, I thought it would be better to chuck it altogether and wait until later when I could find a better host and do it right.

The good news is that I have found a very promising host indeed. Lots of assimilation potential. So stay out of Wolf 359 this evening!

New Bush Ads

Are up. Have a look.


Just got back from a meeting up at 19th and Penn. Decided to walk back to my digs at 10th and Penn, cutting across the top of the Ellipse. What a day - D.C. at it's early spring best. I think the ol' jeep is going topless for my commute home this evening.

I can't help thinking sometimes as I pass the White House, "Wow! What a place to be!" Right in the Middle of Things, as it were. I often have this same feeling playing softball out on the Ellipse with my firm team in the summer. Then again, I passed a couple of heavily armed SWAT-types giving a pickup truck a very thorough going over and thought, "Damn, what a place to be." Right at Ground Zero, as it were.

The tourists are beginning to break out all over, like the daffodils. Where you swing round that long curve of walk between the White House and the Ellipse, there are always gaggles of them taking pictures of each other with the WH in the background. I know that I randomly show up in some of these pictures as I pass through the crowd. Sometimes I wonder what, if anything, these folks think when they take the film back to Des Moines or Provo or Montgomery, or wherever it is they're from. Do they even notice I'm in the picture? If so, do they wonder if I'm a Very Important Person because I've got a suit on and am carrying a file or briefcase? Or do they suppose I'm just another one of the nameless cogs in the Beltway Machine.

No way to tell, of course. But it's weird to think that an image of me might be in some family vacation photo album somewhere, subject to view and comment by complete strangers and without my even knowing about it.

At least with you guys, I know when I'm being watched.

Why I love the Internet, Reason LXXVII

The Smoking Gun has Richard Clarke's resignation letter from last year. Let's just say it's not exactly in line with what he's saying now.

I know, I know, he was lying then, but telling the truth now.


Forcibly Apply Forehead To Desktop. Repeat As Necessary.

Read Professor Bainbridge's post relaying a piece by Richard John Neuhaus on the jaw-droppingly low level of First Amendment comprehension among university administrators and students. Remember, these are supposed to be the informed members of society.

Personal anecdote on this: I used to ride the Metro Orange Line into DC from Falls Church every day. Very often, a little, middle-aged Korean (I think) guy would get on at the Court House station. He would sing a verse of a hymn - usually Rock of Ages or something like that - say good morning, and get off at Rossyln. Had a nice, light baritone voice, too. Most people either smiled or just ignored him.

Well one morning, as the guy broke into song, a man from the other end of the car suddenly snapped. He was a decently dressed, well-groomed man - I'd have said a lawyer for sure. Certainly educated. Anyway, Angry Guy started shouting "You have no Constitutional right to do that! You are violating the Constitution!" at our little hymn-singing friend. Hymn-Singing Guy ignored him and plowed on. Angry Guy, getting angrier by the minute, continued to hurl First Amendment objections. Finally, Angry Guy got so angry that he charged back at Hymn-Singing Guy and physically assaulted him. By then, the train had pulled into Rossyln. Angry Guy bodily hurled Hymn-Singing Guy off the train and then tried to get the Metro cops to arrest the little guy for infringing on Angry Guy's Constitutional right not to have to hear hymns in the public square. The train was held up a couple minutes while Angry Guy yelled at the driver and the cops. Finally, he got back on in a huff.

I will say this for the rest of the passengers - they hissed Angry Guy when he got back on the train.

As the Professor asks several times in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, "What do they teach in schools these days?"

Today's Choice Cuts

Spring finally seems to be sweeping into the area - cherry and forsythia are now in bloom in some of the more protected sunny spots around town and the temperatures are finally going to get up into the 60's and 70's for a few consecutive days. This pattern also seems to be occuring in other parts of the country.

Maybe that explains why everyone seems to be full of buck n' beans today. To see what I mean, just check out what the Llama Butchers are reading.

Peggy Noonan (mmm.....Peggy) gives us her thoughts on the 9/11 Commission hearings. She echoes the sentiment of a good many other people that this is the wrong time for partisan finger pointing. After all, there's a war on. But does she believe someone is responsible for our being asleep on sentry duty? You bet. Hint: He never inhaled.

And speaking of the 9/11 hearings, Stuart Benjamin over at Volokh is critical of those dismissing Richard Clarke, including the White House, arguing that while they pile on his account of events, they lose credibility by not bringing forth their own version. It strikes me, after reading posts like this and this, that Benjamin is making a rather weak arguement. Clarke has come forth with some extremely serious - and in some cases fantastical - allegations against the Bush White House. Yet Clarke's own record seriously undermines his credibility on these very issues. Why is a thorough examination of that record "disappointing?" Jonah agrees with me, however sadly.

Speaking of the War on Terror, go and read Donald Sensing's extremely good strategic analysis of the relationship between the WOT and the war in Iraq. Swamps and alligators, my friends, swamps and alligators.


As much as I would like to challenge him to a duel for daring to malign Peggy Noonan, the Derb is on a tear about what passes for a culture of tolerance these days. Let me just give you a sample:

Beyond tolerance? I don't see it. What I do see is a trend towards a European-style society dominated by an arrogant overclass of credentialed intellectuals, who are deeply contemptuous of those less articulate than themselves, and profoundly in-tolerant of traditional customs and morals, of Christianity, of normal sexuality, of manual work, of motherhood, of the military virtues, of any expression of ethnic pride or loyalty by anyone not a certified member of a Designated Victim Group. They don't actually like America much, don't believe there is much good to be said about this country, and would like to change us into something quite different.

Now go read the rest.

Meanwhile, Lileks rages against the Corporate Machine. Aaand he danced to Dolby's "Hyperactive" with Gnat! I'll have to try that with my own maniacs some time.......

Good day, y'all.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Clarke-Bait Watch

Glenn has this evening's round-up of evidence pointing to Clarke as a Karl Rove operative. Heh, indeed.

What mystifies me is the sense that no one in the Get Bush Camp seems to have bothered to go back and check Clarke's current set of assertions against things he's said in the past. You know, to keep him from looking like a flip-flopping moron or an opportunistic hatchet guy. Evidently Clarke shops at the same Advisors-R-Us store as Kerry.

March Madness Rant

I said I wasn't going to post anything else on the tournament because I don't like basketball. This isn't about that, but instead about one of the hideous by-products of the season.

Specifically, it seems as if every year half the local car dealerships get the idea that it would be great to have someone impersonate Dick Vitale in their radio ads. I dunno what effect they think this is going to have on sales, but every time I hear someone yelling, "Yeah, Bay-beee!" I start to twitch like Chief Inspector Dreyfus.

Stop it! All of you! Don't make me come and hunt you down. Because I will. (Twitch!)

Bloggy Notice

Not going to be able to post the After 3's today - too much to do at the office and I also have a bunch of commitments over ta' Church later.

But that will only leave you hungry for more, right? Well have no fear, because tomorrow we will have the latest installment of the Carnival of the Blorg (TM). Be sure to dial in for the assimilation fun!

First And Last Post On This Issue

Lots of folks seem to be getting their shorts in a twist over this God and the Pledge case.

Frankly, I have the same reaction P.J. O'Rourke did to the flag-burning case back in the late 80's. This business just pins a big "kick me" sign on the back of the majesty of the law. I am reasonably sure that the little girl involved is not going to turn into some kind of Bible-thumping fundamentalist if she mouths the pledge. I am also reasonably sure she is not going to be strangled on a cross by a new Inquisition if she simply keeps her mouth shut.

Seems to me there are a variety of more important things to worry about at the moment. Like, for instance, this.

That is all.

Welcome to the Butcher's Shop!

Big ol' Llama YIPS! go out to Lynn of Reflections in d minor for very kindly mentioning us. Please be sure to help us return the compliment by going on over and looking around. Lots of really good cultural pieces of a calibre to put my own occassional bloviations to shame.

For those of you who haven't seen it, I wanted to highlight Lynn's summary of us:

First impression: a pair of snarky republicans with a variety of interests. Some pop culture stuff, frequent Star Trek references and they linked to my Mozart post.

Can she call it, or what?


Zut Alors! Le Boom!

So much for averting terrorism through craven appeasement, eh, mon ami?

Apparently, no one knows who these AZF people are, but I'm willing to bet they aren't agitating for an autonomous Pas de Calais.

Clarke-Bait Watch

Stick a fork in him, he's done.

And Another Thing.....

A powerful op-ed piece by Spain's Jose Maria Aznar over at OpinionJournal today in which he slams his political enemies for exploiting 3/11 to boot him out of office, gives a full accounting of the government's investigation and information efforts and calls on all civilized people to band together to combat terrorism. (Registration required.)

Unfortunately, this is the speech that should have been made prior to the election. Over and over again. (Maybe it was, but evidently not nearly enough.)
Now, it comes out sounding an awful lot like that snappy comeback you think of a week after you've been zinged.

1776 gets the boot

A deranged lunatic over at Truly Bad Films has a post on the latest genius move from the Fairfax County School system.

Movie Quotes

BTW, a big Llama YIP! YIP! to Liz over at Truly Bad Films for picking up on our idea. If you're here from there, just scroll down.

Sorry about the link business, but I leave the techie side to my compadre Steve-O. To employ another of my favorite movie quotes, "He's the brains, sweetheart!"

Today's Choice Cut

Taking a break from political trench warfare this morning - I'll catch up on my reading at lunchtime and report back.

In the meantime, however, let me direct your attention to an interesting post by Willow, in which she discusses the possible (fingers crossed!) demise of modernism in art. By way of boosting the counter-revolution, she links to a couple of Progressive Realist painters I've never heard of - but whose work looks pretty good from what you can see on the 'net. Let me toss in one other suggestion: Jamie Wyath. (Yes, he's one of THOSE Wyaths - Andrew, N.C., etc.)

I don't pretend to have any expertise in the visual arts, but I have always detested abstract painting in all its forms, primarily because - without a frame of reference readily understood by the viewer - the work is essentially meaningless. It is common in the Art World to snigger condescendingly at Rubes who say things like, "My four-year-old could have painted that." But the Rubes have a point. If they cannot understand what the artist is getting at when looking at his painting, then the artist has failed. Willow's post gives one hope that people are finally getting up the courage to say that the Emperors of the Brush are buck-nekked.

I do have some expertise in serious music, which has followed a similar ruinous course throughout the Twentieth Century. It is true that, unlike visual arts, music does not refer to anything around us. You don't write a score describing a tree, for instance. (And no cranky emails about "The Birds," "The Four Seasons," Beethoven's 6th, the Music of the Spheres or the Golden Mean, please.) Instead, Western music traditionally has been self-referential. Nonetheless, the references are very clear to anyone with the least amount of aptitude and background. Like a language, Western music slowly and steadily built up rules of grammar and composition and a vocabulary. This framework was learned and embraced by generations of composers, musicians and listeners.

Alas, at the end of the Romantic Era (say, right about the time of WWI), the collective body of composers seemed to have run out of ideas on how to continue building this language, and instead began to lash out in different directions - exploring atonalism and other experiments in abstraction. Again, the problem with this approach is that it simply threw away the commonly-held frames of reference. The result, much like abstract art's meaningless splashes and scribbles, was a lot of meaningless shrieks, howls and discords. Modern serious music, in my humble opinion, has never really recovered from this blow.

Another difference between painting and music is that a painter is his own performer. No one gets up on stage and "does" Rembrandt. Music, on the other hand, is a collaboration between composer and performer. And here, at least, the news for music lovers has been better. We may be living in a time of compositional sterility, but we are also living in a Golden Age of performance.

For example, I am a whole-hearted devotee of the Period Instrument Movement that has blossomed in the past 35 years or so. (Go here for a first-rate catalogue of period instrument ensembles.) These people bring a freshness and vibrancy to music of the Renaissance, Baroque and Classic periods that is the aural equivalent of the restoration of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. And furthermore, thanks to them, many, many more works are performed and recorded these days that simply had been ignored previously - some of them for hundreds of years.

And it is not just the period groups. One can go virtually anywhere and hear first-rate performances. Years ago, almost all the talent in the United States was confined to a few big centers - New York, Cleveland, a few others. Now, you can walk into a Church basement in East Podunk and come across amazing concerts. I suppose this is a function of an ever-expanding talent pool and modern educational techniques. But I also have a sneaking suspicion that it is at least in part a function of the disaster of modern composition - people who might otherwise be writing music (if it had something to say) are instead attracted to performance of music actually worth listening to. Just a theory.

Good day, y'all.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Llama Butchers Go To The Movies

Dean has a post on inspiring movie quotes, citing as one of his favorites a Charles Bronson line from The Magnificent Seven.

Well, at this point in the day I may be just a weee bit tired and jaded, but one of MY favorite movie lines is a short duologue from that eminently quotable movie, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure:


'Bout sums things up, doncha think?

What are YOUR favorite movie lines?


Today's After 3:00 PM Half Price Specials

Been running about from meeting to meeting outside the office today. At least I got a decent lunch out of it! Alas, you, poor reader, suffer as a result. It's easy enough to do the occassional snarky snippet when you're at your desk all day. But just try it when you're sitting in a face to face client meeting and see where that gets you!

Oh, sitting at lunch in a swank resturant on Pennsylvania Avenue, I couldn't help overhearing the table next to me, which was filled with Democrat "power broker" types. They seemed to think that Colin Powell's career is over because of the 9/11 hearings. They also thought that John Kerry is making a real connection as a "man of the people."

Uh, huh. Must be that lead in the water supply coming through.

Any-hoo, here are a few nifty nibblers on the counter this afternoon:


John Podhoretz slaps our boy around a bit. We're probably going to have to drop this item soon, as I've an idea Clarke is going to get sucked down the same memory hole as Paul O'Neil. Who? See what I mean.....


The Krugman Truth Squad once again spanks the World's most dangerous pundit. Share and enjoy!


Dean has an interesting post on human flirting behavior. According to the research he cites, the various moves men and women make are instinctive, not learned. Even so, I wish I'd had this info when I was a geeky, short-sighted, acne-prone teenager. (Yes, since you ask, I'm geeky and short-sighted now, but I'm married. Thus, as Jesse Jackson would say, the question is moot.)


Cobb has a 90's retrospective piece, seeking to define the decade, that gives every Tory cell in my body the screaming heebie-jeebies. Yes, yes, I know all about the historical connection between human advancement and creativity and the shaking up of social norms. And I agree that overall it is a good thing. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.


Practical Penumbra has the latest edition of the Frostbite Falls Gazette. Knock yerselves out on "Links for the Memories," or "Blog This!"


As much as I deplore NPR as a general rule, I did listen to Bob Edwards on Morning Edition for long stretches of my life. Not any more. Bob is history.


Once again, James is assimilated. We are the Blorg.

Completely random post

I'm printing a rather large document for a project, and so was weedling away some time looking to see if there were some Bill the Cat and Steve Dallas jpgs already online [because I'm too lazy at the moment to scan some myself]. Anyhoo, I came across this interview with Berke Breathed from 2001 which was rather funny.

He addresses the libertarian issue, which ran through my earlier Warren Zevon post:

Liberal, shmiberal. That should be a new word. Shmiberal: one who is assumed liberal, just because he's a professional whiner in the newspaper. If you'll read the subtext for many of those old strips, you'll find the heart of an old-fashioned Libertarian. And I'd be a Libertarian, if they weren't all a bunch of tax-dodging professional whiners.

I think that about sums it up.

So: we've got a large part of the blogosphere revolving around the poles of Warren Zevon, Berke Breathed, Fredrich Hayek, and Cartman.

Ah, it's nice to be home!

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