Because it's just not Christmas without Christopher Walken...
Merry Christmas to all my friends and readers, and I'll see you again sometime next week.
Because it's just not Christmas without Christopher Walken...
Because at this point, I'm in Canada...
I doubt it will get the same attention as Arlen Specter's switch from Republican to Democrat, but the decision by Representative Parker Griffith of Alabama to switch from Democrat to Republican has far greater implications:
Bonus taste of political things to come:
For the second straight day, the update shows the highest level of Strong Disapproval yet recorded for this President. That negative rating had never topped 42% before yesterday. However, it has risen dramatically since the Senate found 60 votes to move forward with the proposed health care reform legislation. Most voters (55%) oppose the health care legislation and senior citizens are even more likely than younger voters to dislike the plan.Yet President Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Rahm Emanuel still believe it was the failure to pass HillaryCare that cost Democrats control of Congress back in 1994. The bad ideas that made up the actual specifics of HillaryCare itself had absolutely nothing to do with it, in their minds, because voters don't really care about those things. ("Hey, look! It says Reform right on the first page!")
Remember, the youth of today are the future of tomorrow. So let's all get out there and RockTheVote! for health reform by... well...
(WARNING: Strong language, sexual situations, lame innuendo, and general idiocy ahead.)
As symbolized by our dog, which of the following is the better Christmas?
A) Christmas 2009:
B) Christmas 2008:
(Hint: It's the year without any paint chips scraped off the wall whenever the poor girl tried to turn her head.)
Just a little something to get me in the mood for where I'll be spending this holiday season!
As symbolized by the car that my wife and and I drive, which of the following is the better Christmas?
A) Christmas 2009:
B) Christmas 2008:
(Hint: It's the year without any chestnuts roasting by an open fire...)
[Guest post from The Captain...]
How much better off the United States is in 2009...
If George W. Bush had been the first President to need a teleprompter installed to be able to get through a press conference, would you have laughed and said it is more proof of how he inept he is on his own, and is really controlled by smarter men behind the scenes?
If George W. Bush had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to take Laura Bush to a play in NYC, would you have approved?
If George W. Bush had reduced the value of your retirement plan's holdings of GM stock by 90% and given the unions a majority stake in GM, without fundamentally changing the downward spiral of the corporation, would you have approved?
If George W. Bush had made a joke at the expense of the Special Olympics, would you have approved?
If George W. Bush had given Gordon Brown a set of inexpensive (and incorrectly formatted DVDs), when Gordon Brown had given him a thoughtful and historically significant gift, would you have approved?
If George W. Bush had given the Queen of England an iPod containing videos of his speeches, would you have thought this embarrassingly narcissistic and tacky?
If George W. Bush had bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia, would you have approved? Emperor of Japan? Premier of China?
If George W. Bush had visited Austria and made reference to the non-existent "Austrian language," would you have brushed it off as a minor slip?
If George W. Bush had filled his cabinet and circle of advisers with people who cannot seem to keep current in their income taxes, would you have approved?
If George W. Bush had been so Spanish illiterate as to refer to "Cinco de Cuatro" in front of the Mexican ambassador when it was the 5th of May (Cinco de Mayo), and continued to flub it when he tried again, would you have winced in embarrassment?
If George W. Bush had misspelled the word "advice" would you have hammered him for it for years, like Dan Quayle and potatoe, as proof of what a dunce he is?
If George W. Bush had burned 9,000 gallons of jet fuel to go plant a single tree on Earth Day, would you have concluded he's a hypocrite?
If George W. Bush's administration had approved Air Force One flying low over millions of people followed by a jet fighter in downtown Manhattan, causing widespread panic, would you have wondered whether they actually get what happened on 9-11?
If George W. Bush had failed to send relief aid to flood victims throughout the Midwest with more people killed or made homeless than in New Orleans, would you want it made into a major ongoing political issue with claims of racism and incompetence?
If George W. Bush had created the positions of 32 (and counting) extra-constitutional czars, who report directly to him, bypassing the House and Senate, on so much of what is happening in America, would you have approved?
If George W. Bush had ordered the firing of the CEO of a major corporation, even though he had no constitutional authority to do so, would you have approved?
If George W. Bush had proposed a budget plan that within 10 years would triple the national debt, which had taken more than two centuries to accumulate, would you have approved?
If George W. Bush had spent more than all the Presidents combined since George Washington, would you have approved?
So, tell me, what is it about Obama that makes him so brilliant, so impressive?
Can't think of anything? Don't worry. He's done all this in ten months, so you'll have three more years to come up with an answer.
While walking our dog the other morning, my wife and I found ourselves behind this fashionable pair:
The cell phone tucked into the pink sweatpants with sequins emblazoned across the butt is what really completes the look, don't you think?
Which of the following "presidential" poets has composed the finest bit of verse?
A) President Barack Obama:
Under water grottos, cavernsB) Almost-President Al Gore:
Filled with apes
That eat figs.
Stepping on the figs
That the apes
Eat, they crunch.
The apes howl, bare
Their fangs, dance,
Tumble in the
Musty, wet pelts
Glistening in the blue.
One thin September soon(Hint: I think I just remembered why I ran screaming from that PhD path in English Lit all those years ago.)
A floating continent disappears
In midnight sun
Vapors rise as
Fever settles on an acid sea
Neptune's bones dissolve
Snow glides from the mountain
Ice fathers floods for a season
A hard rain comes quickly
Then dirt is parched
Kindling is placed in the forest
For the lightning's celebration
Take their leave, unmourned
Horsemen ready their stirrups
Passion seeks heroes and friends
The bell of the city
On the hill is rung
The shepherd cries
The hour of choosing has arrived
Here are your tools
Somehow, I completely missed my first-year anniversary as a blogger here at In My Copious Free Time. And considering that I'm still drowning in the latest evil editing marathon, I might as well "celebrate" that anniversary today by looking back the 10 favorite posts of the last year, in no particular order:
1) 24 Shots at Love: The Lost Episode
Jack Bauer goes undercover on a VH1 celeb-reality dating show.
2) The Endless Adolescence of Joel Stein
Joel Stein is desperate for attention. Really. He's said so himself. And it's the only way to explain his columns.
3) Larry King Live: The Lost Episode
The success of Larry King... well...
4) Tale of the $1 Car
The life (and death) of my wife's first car. Which she really did buy for $1.
5) Having a Serious Conversation
My first Instapundit link.
6) Susan Roesgen: The Lost Episode
It's almost a shame Susan Roesgen disappeared after that infamous Tea Party report for CNN. I was hoping to make a whole series out of spoofing her nonpolitical, unbiased take on the news.
7) Tale of the Chihuahua
I hate chihuahuas. 'Nuff said.
8) Credit Card-tastic!
President Obama updates us on his efforts to secure a new credit card for America.
One of the reasons I started this blog was just so that I could rip apart possibly the worst television show I have ever seen.
10) The Obligatory Prop 8 Post
One of the few times I've gotten out of bed at 2 AM, because a post just had to be written.
It is now the morning of December 4th, and your Halloween pumpkin is still on display for all to enjoy.
For the love of God, girls, please throw this rotting thing away before it attracts the raccoon living in that drainage pipe down at the intersection. Or gets "accidentally" knocked onto the center of your lovely patio table.
Thank you. That is all.
Because I'm still "engaged" in the current evil editing marathon. And because I really need a laugh after the disappointment of President Obama's West Point speech.
Even as I lost all "hope" (pun intended) over this past year that President Obama would be the moderate, deficit-trimming postpartisan he had campaigned as -- and even seemed to be during the transition -- I always believed that if nothing else, he would do the right thing on Afghanistan. This was the "good" war, after all. The real War on Terror. The War of Necessity. The war that we had under-resourced for so many long years after taking our eye off the ball and invading Iraq, in a mistake that he would correct. And I knew all this because he had repeatedly told me so.
Watching President Obama tonight, as he announced at West Point his plan to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, I not only wanted to support him, I wanted to keep believing that despite all the other issues I have with him, at least he still believes everything he had been saying about Afghanistan. That at least on this one issue, if on no others, he could rise above politics and be an actual statesman.
It was a nice thought.
Instead of rising the occasion, instead of a president acting presidential and conveying his determination and resolve not just to America but to its allies and its enemies, we got a small speech, delivered at a photo op, and given by a man who at times actually seemed to be annoyed that he was even there.
And the speech itself was vintage Obama: "[W]hat’s at stake is the security of our Allies, and the common security of the world," but we're going "to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011," because this "new approach in Afghanistan is likely to cost us roughly 30 billion dollars for the military this year," and we really need "to bring down our deficit," even though "the common security of the world" is at stake. And did I mention that "I have prohibited torture and will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay"?
Like I said, vintage Obama.
You have to give him credit, though. Few politicians could stand there and say "by the time I took office the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan approached a trillion dollars" as a way to burnish his own fiscal responsibility bona fides after having himself signed off on roughly the same amount in a single bill!
Few politicians could give a major speech meant to rally both this nation and its allies to a plan for turning around a failing war yet avoid ever using the word victory. Because phrases like "responsible end" or "break the Taliban's momentum" are what really convey determination and resolve. Especially when "the common security of the world" is at stake. And besides, "successful conclusion" is so much less, well, militaristic...
Few politicians could announce a new, supposed counterinsurgency strategy without ever using the word counterinsurgency. Although the phrase "secure key population centers" does have more of a wonkier ring to it, I suppose, and President Obama just isn't the kind of guy who will let one word do the work of four. And I'm sure any Afghans who are not living in one of those "key population centers" will still happily sign on and help, because "our cause is just, our resolve unwavering." Or at least it will be until July of 2011.
Because "the common security of the world" is at stake.
And don't even get me started on his lament about how America has lost the unity it had right after September 11th. The president may "believe with every fiber of [his] being" we can summon that unity again, but I believe, with every fiber of my own being, that this summoning would be a whole lot easier if he would stop poking gratuitous sticks in the eyes of those who in good faith hold a different position on Iraq, or "enhanced interrogation," or Guantanamo Bay, or a host of other related and equally complicated issues. Especially when he's trying to build a common purpose in Afghanistan and the people who are most disposed to support this new surge of additional troops are, well, the very people whose eyes he just went around poking with gratuitous rhetorical sticks.
Then again, it also might be helpful in building support and "unity" for this strategy -- not just here in America but also among our allies abroad -- if the president had sounded, acted, and spoken like someone who actually believed in this strategy himself. Because he didn't. And you could see it on the faces of those cadets sitting in the audience. They knew the president was saying the words, but that his heart wasn't in them. And you just don't send in 30,000 additional troops unless you really, truly are resolved to see this fight through to the end, and to do whatever it takes to make sure that end is a certain word our president prefers not to use.
And that's my real dilemma. I support this strategy. I support sending those additional troops. I think this is the right thing to do, and the necessary thing to do. And I truly, honestly want to support President Obama in this.
But damn, did he ever make that hard to do with this speech.
So, after finishing Day One of the latest evil editing marathon, did I save that mammoth Word file and immediately go catch up on the latest news so that I could write and post an intense, thoughtful, well-researched political commentary?
Of course not! I went looking for more remix videos of old science-fiction shows on YouTube instead!
As I sit here getting ready for my next evil editing marathon -- which starts in, oh, about 17 minutes or so -- I discovered this during my morning blog crawl.
I grew up on repeats of Star Trek, broadcast on some station in Wheeling, West Virginia, whose call letters I've long forgotten. I'm also old enough to have been young when Space: 1999 aired in first-run syndication. (Actually, I'm old enough to remember when Harlan Ellison's The Starlost first aired, but that's a whole other can of worms.) So when I spotted this over at James Lileks' The Bleat, well, it just made my entire morning.
[Because this is as true today as it was when I wrote it almost a year ago.--Wesley M.]
This Christmas, we're seeing no family. We have the fewest presents under the tree that either of us can remember, and the weather outside is bone-chilling rain instead of heart-warming snow. I've seen more holiday television specials this year while sitting in veterinary office and animal hospital waiting rooms than I have while sitting at home. I never made it to a Christmas Eve service last night and won't make it to a service today, even though attending church this holiday as a believing Christian for the first time since I was 12 or 13 is something I've spent months anticipating.
None of this bothers me, though. I have the only two presents I need:
Earlier this month, I had to face the possibility of losing my wife. Not through a separation or a divorce, but in a car that literally ended its time with us by fire.
And not even a week ago, I had to face the possibility of losing our dog. Not through the poor girl wandering off or because of a move that somehow forced us to leave her behind, but during a long day and even longer night of vomiting, shaking, weakness, and more blood than I ever want to see in one place again.
Sometimes life, or God, or just plain dumb luck forces you to realize what's actually important. I don't plan on forgetting this lesson anytime soon.
Count your blessings, everyone. I know I am.
Merry Christmas, and God bless.
[Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.]
A short classic from Charlie Chaplin:
It is now the afternoon of November 25th, and your Halloween jack o'lantern is still on display for all to enjoy.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and when I sit down at that table and list all the many things for which I'm thankful, I hope I can include that my neighbor has finally thrown this poor thing in the trash and put it out of its misery.
Thank you. That is all.
They just don't make movies like this anymore.
Along with wading through all the hacked East Anglia material myself the last few days, I've been spending some time following the comment threads for other online postings about this issue. I've left a comment or two of my own, though I usually stay out of those threads. All too often, they get hijacked by the most extreme voices on either side, and the people actually willing to give the other side a fair hearing -- and to acknowledge the short-comings of their own side, which both sides do have -- get crowded out. Sometimes, it seems like the only thing those two extremes can agree on is that anyone with an "undecided" mind must be insulted and driven from the thread.
As someone who was once absolutely convinced of mankind's role in global warming but, after years and years of editing environmental science papers, found himself moving into the "maybe, but maybe not" camp, I generally walk away from those comment threads muttering "A pox on both your damn houses..."
Most disappointing to me have been the self-proclaimed defenders of "The Science(Trademark)," who are actually acting like political flaks. Not only do they see nothing of concern in the East Anglia material, they can't even bring themselves to say "I think there is absolutely nothing to worry about in these e-mails and other files, but I can understand why it looks bad and why people are concerned." Apparently, in their minds, even that would be giving the other side a "win," and giving the other side a "win" must be avoided at all costs. Just like when someone on your side of the political fence gets caught doing something wrong that you would, quite rightly, skewer someone on the other side for doing. But now the person behaving badly is on your side, so he or she must be defended. At all costs.
Any scientific Joe Lieberman's will be driven from the party.
And the Vulcan Science Directorate has determined that time travel is an impossibility.
Some of the comment threads really do descend to that level.
On the other hand, I've also found myself coming to respect some in the man-made global warming camp even more than I often already did. Dr. Judith Curry, for instance, is hardly a "denier." The Chair of Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and best-known to the general public for her research into hurricane intensity, she's also an example of intellectual honesty and what goes into "good" climate science, acknowledging that the field does often have a problem with the availability and openness of the data and methods used, particularly in regard to the reseachers in the East Anglia material:
Climate data needs to be publicly available and well documented. This includes metadata that explains how the data were treated and manipulated, what assumptions were made in assembling the data sets, and what data was omitted and why. This would seem to be an obvious and simple requirement, but the need for such transparency has only been voiced recently as the policy relevance of climate data has increased. The HADCRU surface climate dataset and the paleoclimate dataset that has gone into the various “hockeystick” analyses stand out as lacking such transparency. Much of the paleoclimate data and metadata has become available only because of continued public pressure from Steve McIntyre. Datasets that were processed and developed decades ago and that are now regarded as essential elements of the climate data record often contain elements whose raw data or metadata were not preserved (this appears to be the case with HADCRUT). The HADCRU surface climate dataset needs public documentation that details the time period and location of individual station measurements used in the data set, statistical adjustments to the data, how the data were analyzed to produce the climatology, and what measurements were omitted and why. If these data and metadata are unavailable, I would argue that the data set needs to be reprocessed (presumably the original raw data is available from the original sources). (emphasis added)And then there's George Monbiot, environmental activist, author, and again, hardly anyone's idea of a climate "skeptic," who proves that you can reject both the idea of a worldwide global climate science conspiracy while still acknowledging and going after potentially bad or even fraudulent climate science:
Yes, the messages were obtained illegally. Yes, all of us say things in emails that would be excruciating if made public. Yes, some of the comments have been taken out of context. But there are some messages that require no spin to make them look bad. There appears to be evidence here of attempts to prevent scientific data from being released, and even to destroy material that was subject to a freedom of information request.Read the whole Monbiot article, by the way. The hypothetical "hacked e-mail" he includes (to "The Knights Carbonic") to show what he would need to believe that all of climate science was a sham is a hoot and a half. And after the last few days, I think we all could use a hoot and a half, wherever you fall in this debate.
Worse still, some of the emails suggest efforts to prevent the publication of work by climate sceptics, or to keep it out of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I believe that the head of the unit, Phil Jones, should now resign. Some of the data discussed in the emails should be re-analysed.
By now, most people who spend time online have probably heard that the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit, home to some of the strongest voices supporting the existence of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), recently had its servers hacked, leading to a massive amount of potentially embarrassing e-mails and other files being publicly posted. A good summary for many of the e-mails involved (and links to specific e-mails) can be found here. The full archive can be found here.
By now, most people who spend time online have probably also heard that most of this material seems to be genuine. It's hard to know if something fraudulent has been slipped in among the real deals, but after several days, I'm not aware that any particular item has had its authenticity challenged.
I've held off blogging about this until now, because I wanted to look over as much of this material as I could before saying anything. And maybe even more interesting than the hacked material itself has been seeing the reactions in the comment threads of the various websites discussing this. Those comments range from people who are convinced this material completely debunks the existence of AGW to people giving a knee-jerk defense for every single potential issue in that material.
As of this morning, put me somewhere in the middle.
I agree that “trick” is most likely just an unfortunate choice of wording. Having been a science editor/ghostwriter for more than 20 years now, I've dealt with a lot of peer-review studies and publications. And I’ve seen enough unfortunate wording from brilliant people who should know better to last me a lifetime. “Hide the decline” seems a lot harder to explain away, though, and should throw up enough red flags to make even the hardest-core AGW proponent demand that a second, closer look be taken at the specific work in question.
I agree that a lot of these e-mails are cases of smart guys with big egos behaving like utter and absolute a-holes. And that should surprise no one who has ever worked with noted scientists at the top of their field. But when they start talking about deleting e-mails, data, and code to keep them out of anyone else’s hands, that should also throw up enough red flags that make anyone, on either side of the AGW debate, who actually does care about legitimate science demand a second, closer look at the work by these particular researchers.
I also agree that the majority view among scientists is that AGW exists, especially in the peer-reviewed literature. So when you have noted researchers not just complaining about AGW-skeptical papers making it through peer review, but also discussing having the journal editor in question removed, how to prevent other skeptical articles from seeing print in the primary literature, and how to de-legitimize a peer-review journal that has published such articles, well, one would think that might give those who uses the "consensus" of the peer-reviewed literature as their argument for AGW at least a moment’s pause. And, again, want the work of those researchers to be thoroughly reviewed -- if only to protect the integrity of the argument for AGW and show there really is no room for “bad” science on their side.
I don’t know if these researchers have been deliberately committing fraud. I get the impression, though, that they’ve become so convinced they already know the answer, they’ve stopped looking for problems and holes in their own data and methods in the way that they should. And that’s usually when a lot of bad science starts to happen.
There’s a lot to be concerned about in this hacked material. And whatever their intentions, the people who are denying that fact aren't defending good science.
How do I prefer not to wake up in the morning? By hearing, right next to my ear, that repeated horp-glorp as the dog heaves beside the bed, preparing to vomit up something really, really nasty she had managed to eat off the street the day before during that one moment I wasn't paying attention.
By throwing off the covers and jumping out of bed, still half-asleep but instinctively ready to guide the dog out of the bedroom, down the apartment hallway, and to the safety of the easy-to-clean tile in the guest bathroom.
By my sleep-addled, fumbling fingers not catching hold of the dog just right as she runs down the apartment hallway ahead of me, past the hoped-for tile in the guest bedroom, and on into the living room.
And by having the poor girl finally vomit up that nasty street-treat onto the carpet not quite a foot short of the easy-to-clean kitchen tile.
Then again, our girl is worth it. And it still beats those early puppy days when she was being house-trained and was too young to sleep through the night.
Which of the following is the best campaign commercial related to Harry Reid's bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate?
A) Harry Reid, "Determination":
I know Steven Crowder and Alfonzo Rachel generally get most of the comedic buzz when it comes to the people on PJTV, and I do enjoy watching their work as well.
Andrew Klavan, though, is the one who really keeps me coming back for more:
Yes, I bought you another Christmas present today.
And no, I'm not going to tell you what this one is, either.
Reason #129 why I'm no longer a Democrat...
From Mark Steyn:
Reading those jobs numbers, I can't be the only resident of New Hampshire's Second Congressional District who dreams of relocating to the "00 Congressional District", land of 2,873.9 newly created jobs. What a great name! Because in the Obama budget you can always use a couple extra zeroes.
Which of the following is the creepiest version of the sci-fi semi-classic V?
A) V (1984, NBC)
My wife and I went out to dinner the other night, to one of the few restaurants in our area that we hadn't yet tried. It's a seafood place down near the 10, right beside the Hooters. So when my wife and I saw the mostly empty parking lot, we both made the obligatory joke about going to the Hooters instead, because then, if we were served terrible food, we could at least gaze at some nylon-clad legs and maybe a tight t-shirt or two.
We should have gone to Hooters instead. And I say that as someone who hasn't been able to even think about actually setting foot inside a Hooters ever since I found out that O.J. Simpson had a Hooters VIP card, which apparently got a lot of use.
Now, as my wife will tell you, I'm easily pleased at a restaurant. Not because I don't have standards, but because I've known too many restaurant people in my life. All those friends who were (and still are) waitresses, hostesses, chefs, and even owners have made me kind of easy-going. Bring me the wrong drink? If it's something I also like, then no problem. Bring me the wrong food? I'm usually so hungry by that point, I'll take it anyway. And enjoy it. Life's just too short, right?
Like I said, we should have gone to Hooters instead.
I could deal with the low, semi-romantic lighting suddenly getting turned up to the nuclear-fired intensity of a thousand white-hot, flaming stars. I could deal with the cola I ordered being one of those weak, watered-down fountain sodas. I could deal with not one, but two employees stopping by our table seemingly every minute-and-a-half to see if "everything was all right," even though most of the restaurant people I know are savvy enough that when they see a couple holding hands across a table and leaning almost forehead-to-forehead, they realize that couple wants to be left alone. I could also deal with the appetizer order somehow getting lost and forgotten back in the depths of what apparently passed for a kitchen. I could even deal with the entrees themselves turning out to be bland and unappealing.
What I could not deal with was simply the most unappetizing thing I've ever heard a waitress say. Ever.
And just what did this paragon of service say?
"I'm sorry. I've been off work for a month sick with Swine Flu, and this is my first day back."
Both our appetites died immediately. Our eyes went wide, and we set down our forks. Then we both leaned back and went, Ewwwwwwww...
In our heads, we both knew she wasn't contagious at this point, but in our guts? You just don't want to hear the woman serving -- and breathing on -- your food talk about her recent infectious disease, which sometimes also just happens to be fatal.
We really should have gone to Hooters instead.
A conversation between my neighbor's two young boys earlier today as we all played with my dog in the courtyard:
"Which gets born first, people or dogs?"
"I think dogs."
"No. People in China get born first, because everything's made in China."
I don't care what your politics are, or what you think of Glenn Beck, because this is just flat-out funny.
(Warning: Strong language ahead)
Which of the following presidents would you trust to name tyrants for what they truly are and to stand firm against aggressive dictatorships around the world?
A) President Ronald Reagan:
While walking the dog after dinner tonight, I spotted the first house in our neighborhood to be decorated for Christmas:
I'm one of those people who would have the tree up already, if my wife would let me. But even for me, this is a bit too much a bit too early...
After a much-needed break, blogging on In My Copious Free Time resumes later tonight.
Sometimes, you just need to get away from something for a while before you can start enjoying it again.
Posted by Wesley M. at 12:14 PM