March 31, 2003

Billy Packer, what is the coldest possible temperature?
Absolutely zero.
Is that as cold as it gets?
It's not possible to go below that?
Will you continue to point out the obvious on the baskeball court for those "newbie" fans?

[On a semi-related note, how much longer does KA Jabbar slide by on his reputation? He either misses calls or goes silent for long stretches. They have to bring in two heavyweights (Goukas and Enberg - oh my!) just to cover for his ineptitude. Does anyone recall some info passed along by Jabbar that was remotely interesting or revealing?]

Posted by MarcV, 10:28 AM link

From what little war news that I took in while out of town, the big stink lately seems to be the US military somehow underestimating the Iraqi resistance and falling prey to terrorist tactics (car bombs, attacks from the rear, etc.). Can we have our cake and eat it too? Either we are injuring too many civilians, or we are being sloppy/careless and letting them kill some of our military personnel.

To blame our military planners for not taking potential terrorist actions into account is wrong. If anything is to blame it is our big American hearts, where we bend over backwards to accomodate people and help them. Once we get burned though, we usually learn from our mistakes and make the appropriate adjustments. We will have to trust our military planners to refine the rules of engagement and continue to minimize the harm to Iraqi civilians.

SH has no rules. He's just trying to last this out somehow and survive with his reign of terror on Iraq still in place. This cannot be allowed to happen, and I pray that Pres. Bush will stay the course and find other suitable arrangements for Saddam and crew.

Posted by MarcV, 10:27 AM link

Mother Of All Vacations - MOAV

No, not really, but maybe it got your attention. Like all good vacations, it was nice to get away from the job, see some Chicago family and eat food I don't ordinarily get to savor. Airport security was not too bad. Remember to wear tennis shoes/sneakers when flying, otherwise you have to take your shoes off to have them scanned. It was interesting to drive out of O'Hare, down the Kennedy expressway with the Chicago skyline in front of me and some straight-ahead jazz playing on the radio. I knew I wasn't in North Carolina!

It had been several years, but I found myself slipping into "city-style" driving, where it's eat or be eaten, and the speed limit signs are only used as a reference in case you are pulled over. Otherwise, my Big Fat Greek Lunch was excellent ($16 was the most I have ever spent on myself for lunch, but hey I was on vacation!) as well as the Home Run Inn pizza on Saturday night. Even though it was a 4-day weekend visiting people whom I don't regularly see (even my own parents), by the time I started feeling comfortable with them I had to leave.

Finally, like all good vacations, I'm more appreciative of what I have at home, both my family and house/town. We couldn't afford for all of us to go, so I went solo. It had been over 2 years since I have been away from home/family for more than overnight, and I really missed Lady Tater and the youngster. When I finally got to hug him, he gave me a big hug back, then moved back a little to look at me and gave me one of those "Is it really you - glad to see you" looks and returned to the hug position. I don't deserve that much happiness, but I'll take it!

Posted by MarcV, 10:26 AM link

March 26, 2003

Yes, the Tater-head is peaking out of the taterbed at this late hour. Posting will be light to non-existent until Monday, as I will be traveling to the home of the Bears, that toddlin town by the lake, Chicago. I'll have a chance for visiting some family, but I can't afford to take along Lady Tater and the youngster, so the journey will be with heavy heart. My sorrow will be slightly relieved after partaking of a Big Fat Greek Lunch and perhaps some real pizza. Be sure to check out some of the bloggers listed to the right - as if you needed to be told that!

Posted by MarcV, 8:25 PM link

Ralph Peters has a good take on our war effort (link by KJLopez at NRO's Corner) in the NY Post. Here's a sample:

Since 9/11, America's been in the payback business. And there's nobody better at business than Americans. Any chemical attacks will be avenged.

Dictators always mistake freedom for weakness. We will not be deterred by anything Saddam and his dying regime throw at us. We will simply show the world that there is no courage more enduring or powerful than the courage born of liberty.

He also has a bone to pick with Sec. Rumsfeld, who did not "...send as many heavy ground forces to the Gulf as our military planners requested." I had not heard that one before, and Mr. Peters does not think it will deter us from victory, but he does worry about our ground forces being stretched thin and our supply lines being temporarily cut. Maybe this is why the large armored division of the Republican Guard is being sent out now to central Iraq.

Posted by MarcV, 11:13 AM link

Didn't SH learn 12 years ago? This just in: A large contingent of Iraq's elite Republican Guard headed south in a 1,000-vehicle convoy Wednesday toward U.S. Marines in central Iraq — an area that already has seen the heaviest fighting of the war.

If they're bunched together, it will be a quick slaughter based on coalition air superiority. If they are spread out, A-10's (go Warthogs!) will selectively slice and dice, along with other bombers/fighters. Is this Saddam's last gasp, or is he doing this to curry Arab/international favor? A couple of our tank divisions alone would wreak havoc and destruction on them. There are also reports that the Iraqis have wired many of the bridges around Baghdad for destruction.

Asked about the Republican Guard movements, (Brig. Gen.) Brooks said, "There have been local positionings and survival positionings, but not serious attacks and we certainly remain, we believe, well in control of the situation at hand."
U.S. units in central Iraq appear to be shifting their strategy because of the attacks from Iraqi militiamen. Instead of racing to Baghdad, some units are moving slower to clear out pockets of opposition.

"We're going into a hunting mode right now," said Lt. Col. B.T. McCoy of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines. "We're going to start hunting down instead of letting them take the cheap shots."

Posted by MarcV, 9:38 AM link

War 'n Peace

Pretty good article over at TechCentral on some war history and how Saddam has tried to make Iraqi civilians his personal shield, in spite of the coalition force's best efforts at minimizing civilian casualities.

But what is reprehensible about the Iraqi regime, and something that peace marchers here and abroad have only given lip service to opposing, is its use of total war against its own population even in peacetime. In Saddam Hussein's Iraq, peace is hell.

Has Pres. Bush made a sufficient argument for invading Iraq?

... no president should send troops into battle without a sense that there is a moral mission - to make the world safe for democracy, to protect his own people, to end a despicable and dangerous tyranny, to defend liberty.

One can argue that President Bush hasn't fully met that test. It's a matter of degree. But no peace marcher can honestly claim that the Iraqi regime is anything other than a brutal, genocidal dictatorship that has impoverished its own people while maintaining it own grandeur.

He ends the article by restating the charges that have been leveled against Saddam's regime. He looks guily to me.

Posted by MarcV, 9:34 AM link

Take Two

Today's double shot of funnies from the comedian Argus Hamilton:

A Paris firm Monday began selling marked packages of pretzels for the French people to send to President Bush at the White House. They'll be sorry. The last country that tried to kill one of our President Bushes is currently under invasion. [Dont' try pushing your luck, Pierre!]

The NCAA basketball tourney got low TV ratings on CBS last week. They didn't invite the right team. College basketball is fun to watch, but it can't compete with a televised war unless Bobby Knight's sitting courtside next to an empty chair. [for you Texas Tech fans]

Two more semi-chucklers:

Saddam Hussein gave a videotaped speech to the world Sunday which failed to answer if he's dead or alive. The video looked a little suspicious. There was so much editing that Saddam Hussein is claiming he did his own singing and dancing. [and the fat lady is starting to sing for Saddam - the parties over ty-rant]

The White House prepared to ask Congress for $75 billion to pay for the war in Iraq. The estimate is based on a thirty-day war. Taxpayers would feel a lot better about this expedition if the funding didn't sound like a mattress guarantee. [but let's not let money get in the way of comfort]

Here's one that may not be all that funny, but it is extra-clever:

Oklahoma was used Monday for a U.S. bio-terrorism test. They wondered if radar could pick up a mixture of clay, water and alcohol dropped from a crop duster. It's the first time classes were ever called off at OU because it was raining Coors.

Posted by MarcV, 9:34 AM link

March 25, 2003

Message Minding

The Yorkie Blogger put finger to keyboard and gave some good comments on the war and stuff. She did strike fear into my heart when she mentioned her Bonneville buying the farm. Considering I drive an old one as well, the Possumblogger's MOldsmobile travails, and a brief shudder from the transmission last Saturday, I could be in the market for another vehicle. I hope not, because after being spoiled by no car payments for the last five years (thank you Lord!), it will be difficult to make out a couple-hundred-dollars-a-month check. I'll probably just fix the tranny, but that could be a +$1000 affair (yikes).

Mrs. Watson was kind enough to mention the sermon notes thingy, and alert readers may notice that I have not posted anything for this week. First, let me say that the sermon notes suggestion was made to encourage others to write down what their Pastor was relating to their congregation. I had hoped that others would then share their notes on the blogosphere, but the main benefit from making sermon notes was the improved retention of the message. It takes discipline to follow through on this, but I believe you can be blessed by taking sermon notes.

Now for my excuse ... uh, the dog ate it? Actually (is that the right use of the word?), we did not have a sermon delivered on Sunday. [I'll pause a moment for some folks to catch their breath after that big gasp, and for any "church ladies" to recover from a fainting spell.] Our choir had a workshop/retreat on Saturday, and most of the service was devoted to new songs (hallelujah!), with a brief message/encouragement from the Pastor towards the end (but not enough to post). One of the team members that led the workshop played bass, and he laid the funk down - whew! Good thing I had my shoutin' shoes on Sunday morning.

After Mark Byron's recent post on seeking both the Spirit and Word in your faith walk, I almost feel like I have to defend myself. Almost. Our church will sometimes do things out of the ordinary, and sometimes at the spur of the Spirit change the schedule completely around [more gasps]. We proclaim the Bible as the inerrant Word of God, and challenge each other to seek His truth through His Word. If an occasional Sunday morning service does not have the traditional sermon based on scripture, that's OK, as long as we meet together and give God the glory and worship Him.

It's tempting for Pentecostals to take shots at a Baptist church and say their services are lifeless, and it's tempting for Baptists to criticize Pentecostal's services as being overly-emotional. We do need to find the balance between Spirit and the Word, heart and mind, to worship God as best we can. Different people have different ideas on that balance, thus the denominational variety. Wherever we may happen to be, let's lift Jesus higher and worship Him in Spirit and Truth.

Posted by MarcV, 3:49 PM link

Larry Miller gives us a glimpse of life still proceeding even though the war in Iraq continues. Taking his youngster in for a haircut, Mr. M. describes the cut he would like to see:

"Have you seen those press conferences with Tommy Franks and his aides? Just make them look like them." This jolted her a little, possibly because she thought Tommy Franks sounded like someone on "The Sopranos." ("Boss, this is Paulie's new crew: Joey Steaks, Jimmy Tomatoes, and Tommy Franks.") So I dipped into my endless supply of patience and said, "General Franks. You must know him. Or one of the other generals. Think of anyone in uniform at a podium in the Pentagon. Like that."

The war has been on for four days, and some of our soldiers are dead, and some are captured, and I took the kids for haircuts. And I asked the young woman to cut their hair like the best people in our country, and her eyes widened, and she whispered, "You mean a soldier?"

"Not a new recruit--my wife would brain me--but, yeah. A pilot, maybe."

At the end he wrestles with the idea of doing something more, of not being "worthy of this [military personnel] sacrifice". I don't know either, and sometimes I fight the nagging doubt in my head, "Are we doing the right thing - is this worth risking lives over?" The line has already been crossed, and in a few days we will be breaking the barricades into Baghdad. All I can do is trust that President Bush has made the best decisions based on the information provided to him, and that he continues to seek God's guidance and apply it.

Posted by MarcV, 9:37 AM link

March 24, 2003


It is with heavy heart and humility that I post the results from last weekend's hoopfest. I went out on a ledge trying to pick a few cinderellas, but I guessed wrong and came in LAST! (Arrggh) As a polite host, I will provide the results, and declare Andrew Careaga the winner by a nose. He predicted one more Sweet 16 winner than Mark Byron, and even went so far as to forsake his Mizzou Tigers in the second game. Kudos to you, Andrew, the horn-o-plenty prize package should be arriving by UPS-Tramp Steamer any day. Just go to your nearest port of call and use the handy claim ticket to get your prize!

The Midwest and West brackets both gave victories for 1-2-3-5 seeds, while the other two brackets had a few upsets. Can Michigan State reclaim their glory years? Will Kentucky continue to rip through the tournament like a buzzsaw? Will the slipper fall off of Butler's foot? These questions to be answered later this week. While another prognostication contest is tempting, the risk of further defeat (and the fact that my homey teams have bombed) prevents me from grasping at straws. I'll just concentrate on my NFL prognostication skills.

Calif(21-8) vs. NCSt(18-12) NC! CA NC NC CA
Okl(24-6) vs. SCSt(20-10) OK OK! OK! OK! OK!
Syrac(24-5) vs. Manhat(23-6) SY! SY! SY! SY! SY!
Okl St(21-9) vs. Penn(22-5) PN PN OS PN OS
StJoe's(23-6) vs. Aubrn(20-11) SJ AU SJ SJ! AU!
WakeFor(24-5) vs. ETenSt(20-10) WF! WF! WF! WF WF
Lville(24-6) vs. AustPeay(23-7) LV! LV! LV! LV! LV
MissSt(21-9) vs. Butler(25-5) BU BU BU BU BU!
UConn(21-9) vs. BrYoung(23-8) UC UC! UC UC UC!
Stanf(23-8) vs. SanDiego(18-11) ST! ST ST! ST! ST
Xavier(25-5) vs. TroySt(26-5) TS XA XA XA XA
Md(19-9) vs. NC-Wilm(24-6) MD! MD! MD! MD! MD!
Texas(22-6) vs. NC-Ashe TS w TX! TX! TX! TX! TX!
LSU(21-10) vs. Purdue(18-10) PU LS PU PU PU
MichSt(19-12) vs. Coldo(20-11) CO CO MS MS! MS!
Fla(24-7) vs. SamHouSt(23-6) FL! FL! FL! FL FL
Marq(23-5) vs. HolyCross(26-4) HC! MA! MA MA MA!
Missouri(21-10) vs. SoIll(24-6) MO MO MO! SI! MO
Wis(22-7) vs. WeberSt(26-5) WS WI! WI WI! WI!
Dayton(24-5) vs. Tulsa(22-9) TU! TU DA! TU TU
Pitt(26-4) vs. Wagner(21-10) PI! PI! PI! PI! PI!
Indiana(20-12) vs. Ala(17-11) IN IN IN IN IN
Kentucky(29-3) vs. IUPUI(20-13) KY! KY! KY! KY! KY!
Oregon(23-9) vs. Utah(24-7) OR OR OR UT UT
Ill(24-6) vs. WKentucky(24-8) IL! IL! IL! IL! IL
NotrDme(22-9) vs. WisMil(24-7) ND ND ND WM ND!
Cinc(17-11) vs. Gonzaga(23-8) CI! GO GO GO GO
Ariz(25-3) vs. Vermont(21-11) AR AR! AR! AR! AR!
Creightn(29-4) vs. CenMi(24-6) CM CR CR CM CM
Duke(24-6) vs. ColSt(19-13) DU! DU! DU! DU! DU!
Memphis(23-6) vs. ArizSt(19-11) ME! ME ME ME AS
Kansas(25-7) vs. UtahSt(24-8) KS KS! KS! KS! KS!
# WINNERS 1ST ROUND 22 26 25 26
# PREDICTED FOR SWEET 16 6 12 9 11

Posted by MarcV, 4:10 PM link

For all those waiting with bated (or is it baited?) breath for the official Spudlets take on the NCAA tournament, it's coming - it just takes time (and I had to get this war stuff out first!).

Posted by MarcV, 3:33 PM link

The Thousand Man March

Victor Davis Hanson posts them, and I link them. Today he has a good (short) summation of our current status in Iraq. If the nattering nabobs of negativity (yeah, a little trite but it applies) caused some frustration yesterday, read Mr. Hanson's take. Very heartening.

Posted by MarcV, 3:28 PM link

I appreciate the relative quiet concerning the Oscar results. Ordinarily it would be heard all over the place, but today not much to be seen, besides Michael Moore's large backside. Only caught about ten minutes of the show last night - didn't want to risk waves of nausea. I had enough after the sixth closeup of Nicholas Cage and Jack Nicholson mugging for the cameras.

On Saturday I saw Mike "BJ" Farrel (from MASH) show off his "cute" war protest button. It was a peace sign button on a strip of duct tape, since according to him, duct tape was the only thing the government gave him for security. What a "Michael Moore's backside"! I guess he wants Uncle Sammy to hold his hand, then hold town meetings so that he and his liberal friends can tell us how they feel really bad about the war and that we shouldn't kill people and if we just got to know Saddam that he wasn't such a bad guy and ... (phew, almost couldn't stop).

Posted by MarcV, 3:26 PM link

War Vents
Gotta get this off my chest, because it's been bugging me all weekend. I've not seen others "vent" on the following, but I have not looked too hard either.

Vent #1: I'm for the troops, but I'm against the war.
This was a popular excuse leading up to the invasion, and it is still echoed days after the fact. The war has started, and the troops are performing their duty as given by their Commander in Chief. How do you suppose our military personnel feel when they hear this blather?
With this you tell our military that what they are doing is stupid, and they are stupid to follow their orders. Thank God we have only had one nut case in US uniform try to sabotage the war effort so far. This misguided war protest may have emboldened him, and could inspire others.
"I'm against this war, and we should send our troops home" may sound similar, but at least it would not be so two-faced.

Vent #2: Pres. Bush has had a failure in diplomacy.
This almost caused a large object to crash through my TV monitor/screen. I should have known better than to watch PBS, as they had a few liberal talking heads on-camera. One of the "know-it-somes" said the above line, and the others put their smug smirks on their faces and nodded slightly, as if this was a given.
If there was any failure, it was Pres. Bush's going above and beyond what he should have done to win over as many countries as possible. It turned out to be a no-win situation, so along with our allies (Britain and Australia the main ones) we have taken steps to neutralize the UN "peace paralysis" and will put an end to Saddam's rule. The price of doing nothing is too high to pay.
The failed diplomacy is in the hands of Saddam Hussein, who would not do what he agreed to do, and his "allies" (France, Germany, China, Russia) who would profit economically and politically by maintaining the status quo. Diplomacy involves two sides willing to negotiate and compromise, but Saddam and friends will give no quarter.

Vent #3: Violent peace protesters.
Seems obvious, but they have not gotten it through their thick skulls that violent behavior while marching for peace will not help win any favor to their side. How can their consciences be clear when what they do supports Saddam and what he stands for? No, sanctions were not working, and actually elevated his status by giving him a cover for his tyrannical ways (Iraqis starving not because of sanctions, but by Saddam's profiteering).
Oil profits for Iraq need to be applied in building their country up, to get people working and productive. That is their best hope for freedom, but the stumbling block must be removed first, and the only alternative left is removal by force. Diplomacy, even by his Arab "brothers", was not moving him. Maybe the U-Haul truck will be backing up into Baghdad later this week.

[UPDATE: I almost forgot #4: MORE KELLY O'DONNEL!!! How can NBC relegate her to a gutter in Qatar? Last night, with the wind buffeting her red hair, she calmly and confidently handled everything Brokaw threw at her, without squinting. Info-babe!]

Posted by MarcV, 11:04 AM link

March 21, 2003

More Empire

Earlier this week I posted on empires and the imperial US. Today Daniel Henninger over at OpinionJournal has a short but good article on how we got to be THE SUPERPOWER OF THE WORLD. It made my geeky chest start to slightly swell out in patriotic pride. Fans of Belligerent Bunny will be familiar with these:

But why? How did that (superpower status) happen?

The most immediate measure of our number one-dom is on display just now in the suburbs of Baghdad. It's a long list, unique to the U.S.: JStars, JDAMs, satellite-guided missiles, B-2s with reduced electromagnetic signatures, digital terrain-scanning systems, laser-guided bombs (LGBs), and--from the Oregon Medical Laser Center--fast-clotting bandages that deploy positively charged chitosan molecules, whatever that is (it works).

They only way we will fail is if we beat ourselves, or God pulls the plug on us. That may sound overconfident to some, but so far history has backed this up. The land of the free and home of the brave is also the "crib" of innovation. The Chinese may, by espionage, purchase some of our high-tech toys, sell them to other countries for use against us, but we'll just keep making better ones. It may be a never-ending game, but nobody else seems to be able to keep up with us - thus the overseas whining.

With the Soviets gone, the EU creeping along, Asia struggling and terrorists on the run, we are looking at a new world order. It will be interesting to see how Pres. Bush is judged as the leader of this new millenium, as well as history's judgement of the US as the "benevolent empire".

Posted by MarcV, 9:09 AM link

Some good games in the tournament yesterday, and most of my upset specials fell short. The worst one was my "homey" pick, NC State, where earlier in the week I lambasted the coaching, then I pick them to make it to the Sweet 16. Doesn't make too much sense, does it, when they lose their first game in OT? Otherwise, congrats to the Econ. Prof. in FL, whose alma mater, Central Michigan, played tough enough on D to get a W. I picked CM more for the fact of picking against Creighton, because Omaha just does not have a good history of producing winning teams.

Mr. Careaga (a after e is a meme for me) did provide his predictions for Sweet 16 yesterday, and they will be given when the wrap-up to the pool is made on Monday. He's probably still enjoying a warm fuzzy with Missouri surviving their first game. Kevin's homey pick for Dayton was upended by Tulsa, while my riverboat gambles with Cincinnati and Memphis did not pan out.

For those who remember I "pooh-poohed" the alleged toughness of the top 4 in the Western bracket, it looks like some of those teams may not make it to next week. Kansas just barely squeaked by, the Illini had a rough match, and Duke was only up by two with less than two minutes to go and two starters fouled out. Colorado State had several chances to tie, but the Blue Devil put a lid on the basket, and they ended up putting Reddick on the line (money in the bank for Duke). I'll repeat it again: those top 3 seeds can be had.

Posted by MarcV, 8:36 AM link

More Shekinah

After re-reading the post below on Shekinah Glory, I may have assumed that Mr. Lileks was under some "misconception". I don't mean to put words in his mouth or assume I know where he is coming from, and I apologize if that impression was made. No, he has not contacted me about this, and I doubt he ever reads this, but I'm aware of how things can be misconstrued on the blogosphere. I just wanted to comment on the holiness and significance of "shekinah" and may have been a little overbearing. (Shocking, isn't it?)

Posted by MarcV, 8:21 AM link

March 20, 2003

Why is it when I try to pick upsets the only thing upset is me?

Posted by MarcV, 4:18 PM link

Shekinah Glory

The Bleatmeister made a reference to something of faith, and I'm not sure he is aware of its significance. He mentioned this today in his Bleat:

In any case, it’s obvious tonight this isn’t SHOCK AND AWE, which brings me to the Library of Congress. Years ago ago I was standing in the LoC, looking up at the glorious ceiling, and I saw a curious phrase painted above:

The true shekinah is man.

That quote stuck in my mind, because I had no idea what it meant. Later I looked it up.

A visible manifestation of the divine presence as described in Jewish theology.


We talked about this last night in Wed. night class at church, and I have heard about this term before. "Shekinah glory" is used to describe the cloud that enveloped the Israelites during/after a worship service. For example:

2 Chronicles 7:1-3
When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying,
"He is good;
his love endures forever."

This is also the same type of cloud that God used to help lead Moses and the Israelites through the desert. Based on Mr. Lilek's writings, I suspect that he is nominally Christian (don't know if he is saved), but he is read by a large chunk of the blogosphere, so I at least wanted to put in my two cents and correct his misconception.

GOD IS THE TRUE SHEKINAH. You may as well join the Mormons if you think man can feel like he is the shekinah. Our ultimate righteousness and our ability to truly be God's glory will not come until Jesus accepts us into heaven, cleans us and welcomes us to our new home for all eternity (Praise God, alleluia).

He ends his Bleat with this: "I’m not a praying man. But I am a man, praying. Go figure." It's funny-strange the circumstances that can lead some people to prayer. When prayer becomes a lifestyle, though, you find the lines of communication open up a better aspect of life.

Posted by MarcV, 1:03 PM link


We have a few brave souls ready to match wits and predict the winners of the games this weekend for March Madness. Admittedly, following 64+ teams is a little more challenging than 32 pro football teams, but we will persevere, squeeze our brains and come up with some predictions. The exclamation point next to a team denotes the prediction of who will win the second game between the two first round winners, to make it to the Sweet Sixteen. If NCState and Oklahoma win, then Spud predicts that NCState will win the next game against Oklahoma, while Kevin and Byron predict Oklahoma (Caraega is not going out on a limb for now). Good luck.

Calif(21-8) vs. NCSt(18-12) NC! CAR NC NC
Okl(24-6) vs. SCSt(20-10) OK OK OK! OK!
Syrac(24-5) vs. Manhat(23-6) SY! SY SY! SY!
Okl St(21-9) vs. Penn(22-5) PN PN OS PN
StJoe's(23-6) vs. Aubrn(20-11) SJ AU SJ SJ!
WakeFor(24-5) vs. ETenSt(20-10) WF! WF WF! WF
Lville(24-6) vs. AustPeay(23-7) LV! LV LV! LV!
MissSt(21-9) vs. Butler(25-5) BU BU BU BU
UConn(21-9) vs. BrYoung(23-8) UC UC UC UC
Stanf(23-8) vs. SanDiego(18-11) ST! ST ST! ST!
Xavier(25-5) vs. TroySt(26-5) TS XA XA XA
Md(19-9) vs. NC-Wilm(24-6) MD! MD MD! MD!
Texas(22-6) vs. NC-Ashe TS w TX! TX TX! TX!
LSU(21-10) vs. Purdue(18-10) PU LS PU PU
MichSt(19-12) vs. Coldo(20-11) CO CO MS MS!
Fla(24-7) vs. SamHouSt(23-6) FL! FL FL! FL
Marq(23-5) vs. HolyCross(26-4) HC! MA MA MA
Missouri(21-10) vs. SoIll(24-6) MO MO MO! SI!
Wis(22-7) vs. WeberSt(26-5) WS WI WI WI!
Dayton(24-5) vs. Tulsa(22-9) TU! TU DA! TU
Pitt(26-4) vs. Wagner(21-10) PI! PI PI! PI!
Indiana(20-12) vs. Ala(17-11) IN IN IN IN
Kentucky(29-3) vs. IUPUI(20-13) KY! KY KY! KY!
Oregon(23-9) vs. Utah(24-7) OR OR OR UT
Ill(24-6) vs. WKentucky(24-8) IL! IL IL! IL!
NotrDme(22-9) vs. WisMil(24-7) ND ND ND WM
Cinc(17-11) vs. Gonzaga(23-8) CI! GO GO GO
Ariz(25-3) vs. Vermont(21-11) AR AR AR! AR!
Creightn(29-4) vs. CenMi(24-6) CM CR CR CM
Duke(24-6) vs. ColSt(19-13) DU! DU DU! DU!
Memphis(23-6) vs. ArizSt(19-11) ME! ME ME ME
Kansas(25-7) vs. UtahSt(24-8) KS KS KS! KS!

Posted by MarcV, 12:19 PM link

Most everyone seemed surprised (the talking heads on the news channels) that the war started with a few missiles targeted for Saddam, and not the "shock and awe" that was predicted. I was a little surprised at first, too, but if I had given it a little more thought, it goes in line with Pres. Bush's management of this situation: Bend over backwards diplomacy, give him still another chance, do anything possible to spare the Iraqi citizens.

We have to be very close to the point, if not going over, of having to put Iraqi citizen's welfare to the side if we are to effectively prosecute this military effort. I realize that may sound cold and unfeeling, but the blame falls squarely on Saddam. If he truly loved his country and its citizens, he would have yielded control and avoided the bombing that is coming. I believe Pres. Bush as he states a goal of minimizing Iraqi citizen's injuries, and hope for success in that particular area.

Anybody else see Sen. Byrd's audition for lead conductor of the Capitol Symphony? I can't find a video link, but he apparently wanted to enforce the points he was making by stabbing the air with his right hand in sweeping motions.

Byrd, a leading foe on Capitol Hill of war with Iraq, spoke in a nearly empty Senate chamber (at ~4 pm) ... As the white-haired senator concluded his remarks, a number of people in the visitor's gallery rose and applauded before they were admonished to be quiet. [Please do not encourage him!! Who would be hanging out in the Senate chambers at that time anyhow, with most of the senators already at happy hour?]

At 85, Byrd is now the oldest member of Congress as well as the longest serving. He was first elected to the Senate in 1958, after six years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The poster child for term limits, if there ever was one. At least Jesse Helms worked behind the scenes and didn't make a spectacle of himself. If you ever travel through West Virginia, you would see that Byrd already has enough things named after him to keep him in the public eye for another few decades, at least. Nothing like name recognition to get an uninformed voter to pull the lever for someone that sounds familiar. How do you think Teddy Kennedy keeps coming back?

Posted by MarcV, 9:35 AM link

March 19, 2003


After Pres. Bush's return from the Azores Sunday, I heard something about the flight there being the same distance as a flight to Colorado. I realized I knew next to nothing about the Azores, so being the 'Net-minded surfer dude that I am, a Kartoo search (~15 minutes) yielded a tourist site. It's chock full of touristy-things and general info, and from my first look the Azores may be an intersting place to visit. Maybe for our (Lady Spud's and my) 20th anniversary?

Most flights there connect through Lisbon, but there are a couple of charter flights out of Boston (must still be a sizable Portugese population in New England). Some cruise ships may also go by there, but that needs more investigation. It may not be Hawaii, but it would be alot closer for folks on the East Coast.

Posted by MarcV, 3:13 PM link


Not much to blog on today - just one of those "on-hold" days, waiting for judgement to fall. Yeah, Daschle should not be given a microphone anymore, but before you know it he will just be a short clip on one of those VH-1 Rewind shows reminiscing on the year 2003. Those butterflies that I had posted on yesterday are gone (no, it wasn't due to the pizza I had for lunch!), now that Hans Blix has reassured us that Saddam won't use WMD's on US troops. Saddam is supposedly much too concerned about international opinion, and would not want to risk the world going tsk-tsk if he used them. Plus he's not supposed to have them anyways, so the point is moot.

Old Hans did give himself an out by saying that his inspection teams did not have nearly enough time (just 3 1/2 months) to do an effective job. So if the WMD's do show up, he can just say "If only we had more time ... blah blah blah". UN = Useless Negotiators

Finally, I keep hearing this background "hum" about how the US is just empire building, absorbed in its imperial ways. How many ways has this been refuted, yet they keep banging the drum on this? Does it deserve its own Godwin's Law subheading/addendum? If we were really interested in an empire, and considering this is a Christian nation, we could easily expel every Muslim out of Jerusalem and Israel, rebuild/excavate any site of Christian relevance, occupy the surrounding countries (Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, everything east of the Suez Canal), and tolerate the Jewish population without giving them any say in what happens in Israel.
That is what an empire would do.

Yeah, there would still be problems with people opposed to that scenario, blowing themselves and others up to get rid of the "Crusaders". I just bring this up as another argument to show how far away from empire-building the US actually is. We'll just go about it the slow way, winning them over with fast food, MP3 player's and the Simpsons, until we can declare Sheryl Crow's genius in attaining a state of not having enemies. Pax Sherylicana!

Posted by MarcV, 3:12 PM link

March 18, 2003

Post Speech Comments

I saw it, and thought the President did a good job. The butterflies I'm feeling in my stomach now are similar to the ones I used to have before a big game (back in my athletic "yute"), when you worried about the outcome. Nearly everyone says slam-dunk once the invasion starts, but you still worry about the tricks up Saddam's sleeve.

Anyhow, Victor Davis Hanson posts them, and I link them. He has a few brief comments on the speech last night. He also had a post last Friday on international politics, military bases and the role of the US:

What the United States should seek is a sort of military autonomy, a muscular disengagement that lessens dependence on other mercurial and conniving countries and yet allows us strategic flexibility — and, yes, the freedom to move in the interest of freedom-loving peoples abroad who wish to act in concert with us. We should prefer a series of bilateral arrangements and a new tactical doctrine that does privilege "exit strategy" but simply states that the purpose of all (rare) U.S. interventions is military victory and the political will to define and then ensure such an outcome.

Finally, I saw this definition (from NRO's Corner) for our military, and it's worth repeating: "We are the rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression. That is who we are and it is our honor."

Posted by MarcV, 4:23 PM link

Weekend Ramblings

- Walking the dog Sunday morning I noticed quite a few worms out on the pavement. We have had drizzly gray days for awhile, and more to come, so they were looking to just breathe. It may also have been mating season (yes, I know they don't have boy and girl worms, but they do have urges!), and I thought that it would be a heckuvaway to go. Right in the middle of finding a mate, a car comes and squishes the life out of you. Kinda makes you think.

- Here in the middle of tobacco road, it is difficult to avoid college basketball mania, and I do like to follow the travails of NCState (my wife's alma mater). They had a run at it on Sunday, but came up short against Duke. Not many people are blaming the coaching, but I will. The Wolfpack had the talent to contend for the ACC title, but Sendek kept making bad decisions, or doing nothing when he should have done something, and cost his team several games.

- My almost 5 year old can now beat me in Super Mario (original NES). Not that I have played much in the past few decades, but I could hold my own in the past. Now they are just fond memories of glory days, when it was nothing to kill an afternoon with controller in hand. Guess I've graduated to posting on a blog.

- Got new glasses Saturday. Lady Spud had given me some Ray-Bans over ten years ago, back when I could afford contact lenses. They are the black horn rim style with the silver metal band holding the lens at the bottom (like the ones Malcolm X wore), and supposedly they don't sell them anymore. I decided to splurge and get the transitional lens, but we have not had a sunny day since Friday.
She is still trying to get used to how I look in them. When I look in the mirror, I see a cross between George C. Scott in "Hardcore" and Ernie Borgnine as a hard-hearted supervisor/manager (pick you movie). Real attractive, eh? I asked the guy at the eyeglass store if they gave me an authoritative look, and he said yes, so there you go.

- Finally, don't believe the hype about poor Arizona getting stuck with toughest bracket out West. Duke can be had fairly easily, the Illini are scrappy but don't have enough offensive weapons to go very far, and Kansas is too inconsistent as well as hurting from some injuries. Watch for Cincy or Memphis to surprise and thrive in March madness.

Overall, this has to be the most parity for an NCAA tournament that I have seen in a long time. The top sixteen or so seeds are talented. While Kentucky and Arizona seem to be the teams to beat, they are not overwhelmingly strong. I keep waiting for someone in Kentucky to exhale and lose a game.

Posted by MarcV, 9:24 AM link

Sunday School Notes 3/16/03

[I had nursery duty Sunday, so just a brief message on healing.]
Part of class was given over to praying for our class leader and his fiancee, who were getting married that day. He is a deacon, over 70 years young, cancer overcomer and still very active. It is inspirational to see his close walk with the Lord, his heart for others, and his optimism for the future by getting married.

He gave a brief message about health. We all come in to our relationship with the Lord with scars (emotional, physical, spiritual). He brings healing to us through the power of His Holy Spirit. The devil comes to lie, steal, cheat and destroy. He would love to take away our faith in healing, so it is up to us to stand firm, drawing upon the power of the Holy Spirit to make us strong, and asking for His help since we sometimes get impatient on results.

Posted by MarcV, 9:23 AM link

Ooops - from a quick post on Slash and the Bears by Mark Byron, I commented on Coach Crowton with the Bears. Jason Steffens was right to point out that Shoop is the O-Coord. and not Crowton. Something in the back of my mind was telling me that Crowton was wrong, but I didn't take the time to check it out. Thanks to Jason for correcting that. It almost seems a punishment for me should be in order, but having to endure the Bear's last season was more than enough.

Posted by MarcV, 9:21 AM link

Take Two
Today's double shot of funnies from the comedian Argus Hamilton:

Mexico offered Sunday to pay the airfare for any of its citizens who wish to return home from the Middle East. There were no takers. Los Angeles is proof that Mexicans would rather live in the middle of a war zone than go back to Mexico.

French President Jacques Chirac told CBS' 60 Minutes that France will support a one-month notice on Saddam Hussein to disarm or face war. He obviously didn't turn on the Weather Channel. The five-day forecast for Saddam Hussein is three days.

Posted by MarcV, 9:20 AM link

March 17, 2003

Saw a few bloggers (i.e. Junkyard Blog) comment on the US invasion of Iraq, and part of the invasion consisting of disrupting their banking and communication networks. Do those networks run on operating systems originating out of the US? Even if DOS, do we have enough computer experts here (as well as India, a good ally) to pretty much crack open any computer system? You know that Win95 and on up have some secret doors known only to Bill Gates and a few others, that would basically open up most any application running on those OS's. Kinda makes my geeky computer chest stick out a little.

Posted by MarcV, 4:25 PM link

H2 Pipe Dreams

A recent visitor to the tater bed was kind enough to alert me on his interest concerning a hydrogen-powered future. He also gave a link for this article from Wired on hydrogen power. It's almost worth a fisking, but I'll just select a few passages. Keep in mind that the two guys who wrote this run a consulting firm that is pushing for (guess what?) developing hydrogen power technologies.

After giving the standard lament against our oil-lubricated society (held hostage by foreign countries, dirty pollutant, limited supply), they advocate making a hydrogen program funding similar to the Apollo/NASA program.

There's only one way to insulate the US from the corrosive power of oil, and that's to develop an alternative energy resource that's readily available domestically. Looking at the options - coal, natural gas, wind, water, solar, and nuclear - there's only one thing that can provide a wholesale substitute for foreign oil within a decade: hydrogen. Hydrogen stores energy more effectively than current batteries, burns twice as efficiently in a fuel cell as gasoline does in an internal combustion engine (more than making up for the energy required to produce it), and leaves only water behind. It's plentiful, clean, and - critically - capable of powering cars.

Have to admire their optimism for getting this done in a decade. "Hydrogen stores energy more effectively ..." sounds like sleight of hand, particularly when someone has to define effectively. Hydrogen may burn twice as efficiently compared to gasoline, but the power density is so low that you end up with an underpowered vehicle. I am not familiar with any study that has conclusively proven that the power needed to produce enough hydrogen to send a vehicle down the road is significantly less than the power produced by the vehicle itself.

This article I posted on last month gives a good summary on the problems with hydrogen power. Yes, it's capable of powering cars, but they won't sell. The need for exotic materials (platinum, rhodium among others) in fuel cells will currently prohibit any near-term, wide-spread implementation of hydrogen fuel cells. The authors of the Wired article did mention five obstacles to overcome: 1. Solve the hydrogen fuel-tank problem. 2. Encourage mass production of fuel cell vehicles. 3. Convert the nation's fueling infrastructure to hydrogen. 4. Ramp up hydrogen production. 5. Mount a public campaign to sell the hydrogen economy.

Interesting how the one they saved for last is the primary problem (and solution), with emphasis on the word sell. Besides the other four problems being big obstacles that good old American inspiration and perspiration can (maybe) overcome, people have to be motivated by their pocketbooks. Solar cells were hyped in the late 70's as the great cure to rid us of Arab hegemony (remember the gas lines?), with massive federal taxbreaks to "sell the cells", but that fell flat on its face. Today solar cells are used in specific applications where either substitutes are not available, or it makes economic sense to use solar cells.

Thus it should be with hydrogen. Let the marketplace determine the success of a hydrogen-powered vehicle. Let the federal government continue to fund research projects that companies do not want to investigate but hold promise for scientific advancement. A $100B price tag for the taxpayers is a little too much extra to handle, particularly as socialized medicine/prescription plans and retiring baby boomers start grabbing for federal dollars. If we are so serious about reducing our dependence on foreign oil, we have a decent alternative now: hybrid cars running on electricity and regular or natural gas/methane. They're underpowered like hydrogen-powered cars, yet significantly reduce the amount of oil needed to transport someone, and are available now.

Part of our freedom is the right to choose lifestyle, including the type of vehicle used for moving about this great country. If some people want to have a big SUV, have at it. If some people want to drive a hybrid vehicle, then so be it. More people look to higher-efficiency vehicles as the price of gas goes up. I would suggest visiting Lynne Kiesling at the Knowledge Problem site, an excellent resource for the economic implications of oil. She has a good post on hydrogen powered microcells and their potential for replacing Li-based batteries. She previously gave a link on research at MIT showing that hybrid engines pollute less than hydrogen engines. Finally she gives a link to an NPR show transcript that gave this fascinating tidbit:

Once you account for inflation, the average price of gasoline today is about the same as it was in 1950.

How can this be? After fifty years of increased demand? And after fifty years of population growth! Yet those greedy oil companies squeeze less money out of us for a gallon of gasoline than they did in 1950. There have been long stretches of time where the price corrected for inflation fell steadily, year after year.

Oil is a commodity. The problem we are fighting now is oil profits funding terrorist activities. Pres. Bush has taken steps to reduce terrorism, but it will be a long struggle. Finding alternatives to a petroleum-run economy is in our best long-term interest, but the market will ultimately decide the timing on implementing the best alternative to petroleum. How come nobody toots the fusion power horn anymore?

Posted by MarcV, 3:23 PM link

More Pickin' Pandemonium

While the NFL offseason drags on (and on), there still can be a little prognostication fun to be had. I have e-mailed the NFL prognosticators from last season with a picksheet for this weekend's slate of college hoops otherwise known as March Madness. If others would like to join in, you're more than welcome to let me know (comments section or e-mail), and I will send you a picksheet to fill in. Join the fun and match wits with amateur prognosticators, good enough to take on and beat Vegas(although I wouldn't actually bet on that!).

Posted by MarcV, 10:22 AM link

Take Two
Today's double shot of funnies from the comedian Argus Hamilton:

Texas radio stations pulled Dixie Chicks songs off the air Friday after the singers ripped the president. That's show business. Just a week ago, the Dixie Chicks were special to a lot of Americans and today they are a special at Colonel Sanders.

President Bush and Tony Blair met on a remote island Sunday to avoid anti-war protesters. They can't believe they bothered to go to the U.N. They just learned the wisdom of Nixon's Law which states that it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

Posted by MarcV, 10:22 AM link

March 14, 2003


Possumblogger was kind enough to post on some faith "stuff" going on in his life. Whether it's sermon notes, Sunday school, or notes from a missionary, it's all good, when it honors the source of good in our lives. You have the potential for a double blessing, both to the audience as well as yourself, when you type out a post on a faith issue.

I have to hand it to Terry, taking on 7th/8th graders every Sunday morning. They can be quite a handful, but the rewards can be great. They are at that tender age where Mom and Dad make them go to church, yet they feel like they are old enough to make that decision for themselves. It's not until theo the teen years that many Moms and Dads back off and let them choose for themselves (allowing for some subtle and not so subtle guilt trips if they choose to skip church).

I hope that God will bless me with at least the wisdom of Solomon if my youngster decides to be a Sunday morning rebel. I hate the thought of his faith going cold, but it would be worse if faith is forced on him and he develops hatred for worship. It is difficult to conceive worshipping without joy. It's also easy to let lazy teenagers slide, rather than butting heads.

Heh. My youngster is going to turn 5 in two weeks and I'm already agonizing over the teen years. Hope some of you aren't laughing at me too much. A chuckle or two will do.

Posted by MarcV, 2:48 PM link

Yesterday I posted on a possible all-in-one PC/cell phone/PDA, and wouldn't you know it, the new GameBoy Advanced units got the big press treatment yesterday. The folks at the K-B Toy store told me that they were taking pre-orders (only $99), and how many would I like? For those who have seen the new GameBoys, that is roughly the size of a mobile PC that I had in mind, maybe slightly bigger and definitely with a larger screen. Yeah, it's bulkier than a cell phone, but you could still hold it in one hand. I guess you could add game playing capabilities to the mobile PC!

I need to come up with a name for these: how about CC - Carry-all Computer? PAC - Personal Assistant Computer? BBF - Blogger's Best Friend (you could post from anywhere!)?

Posted by MarcV, 12:44 PM link

Slash Attack

The Bears have "won" the Cash for Slash contest, giving up $4.75M for two years of the scrambling QB. At the very least, Bear fans will take a few games to get accustomed to a QB who is mobile (and Flutie does not count!!). The last Bear QB with true mobility was Bobby Douglas, who led the (mid 70's?) Bears in rushing, and also led them to the bottom of the division. While McMahon may have showed bursts of happy feet, every time he took off Bear fans would hold their breath, expecting another stay on IR for the punky QB.

The article in the Chicago Tribune (registration required) has Slash feeling pretty good to get out of Pittsburgh, where he thinks the Chicago fans will welcome him and treat him nice. Ha ha ho ho hee. Just wait until he has one of those 4 INT-2 TD games he is famous for, and see how happy the Soldier Field faithful are.

"He called and said, 'Dad, you just don't know how happy I am. I'm out of there, Dad. And these people [in Chicago] are really behind me,'" said Robert Stewart Sr. from his home in Marrero, a New Orleans suburb. "I've stopped drinking, but when he told me, I wanted to have a toast to rejoice for him."

We should give him the benefit of the doubt, at least for four games. By then he will either have gotten it, or gotten hit and running scared. Some folks think a change of scenery may be good for him. Hope so. I know Bear fans would like to see stability and productivity out of that position.

The Bears hope to stabilize the position, which has undergone more turnover than any other in the last four seasons. It is the longest sustained stretch of quarterback volatility in franchise history and caused almost entirely by injuries. The Bears changed starting quarterbacks 23 times from 1999-2002, shuffling among Shane Matthews, Cade McNown and Jim Miller in 1999 and 2000.

Because the Bears haven't had a quarterback start a full 16-game schedule since Erik Kramer in 1995, durability is no small qualification for the job Stewart now inherits. The very idea of a Chicago quarterback being able to physically withstand an entire season makes Stewart intriguing.

Before Kramer, the last Bears quarterback to start 16 games was Jim Harbaugh in 1991. Before that, it was Vince Evans in 1981. So Stewart has a chance to join rare company if he does no more than just show up every week.

Posted by MarcV, 12:35 PM link

March 13, 2003

Fiber Folly

Recent news reports have stated that American pilots have been targeting fiber-optic lines in their recent bombing runs in Iraq. I had assumed that this was some type of communication system, but wondered why it was a big deal. It turns out that the fiber-optics are used for an advanced radar-missile air defense system.

Chris Regan over at JunkYard blog has an excellent post on it, and once again the fingerprints of the Clinton administration are all over it. He linked to this article, over two years old, that details the players involved in this treasonous deal. It might not have seemed like treason at that time, but it smells awful bad now.

In 1994, the Chinese spymaster Gen. Ding personally penetrated the U.S. Defense Department at the highest levels, using his contacts with Secretary Perry to obtain a secure fiber-optic network. There was more than profit for Ding and his Chinese army company packed with electronics experts.

The Chinese army's Electronics Design Bureau modified the American fiber-optic communication system, changing it into a secure air-defense system. The Chinese army then exported the newly modified system to Iraq. The Iraqi air defense network, NATO code-named "Tiger Song," is made of U.S. and French fiber-optic parts modified by the People's Liberation Army.

Iraqi missiles guided by Tiger Song regularly attack U.S. fighter jets. U.S. jets have recently retaliated, striking back with bombs and missiles. Chinese military engineers from 2nd and 4th Signals Corps of the Chinese Army Headquarters are even now repairing the damaged Iraqi air defense system.

Think the Chinese would sell this to North Korea too? If you wonder what interests the Chinese have in Iraq, besides oil money, here's an example of why they want to block an invasion into Iraq. It's just sickening to think how Clinton had free reign in this country's defense and the damage he is responsible for, both by things his administration did directly as well as things he neglected to do.

Posted by MarcV, 12:59 PM link

Laptop Topper

I try to keep informed about new hardware coming out, but the new Intel processor built just for laptops took me by surprise. It is named "Centrino", and was designed from the ground up for mobile computing applications. Although the clock speed is rated from about 1 to 1.6 GHz, they have improved the ancillary functions (power management, big L2 cache, dedicated stack manager, new chipset) supporting the processor, so that it beats laptops (25% faster ?!?) with an Intel P4-M rated at 3 GHz. Astounding.

By improving the power management and reducing the overall power needs of the chip, battery life has been extended to +5 hours. PC Magazine reviewed about 6 units using the Centrino processor. They will be expensive, since they are the first ones to come out. Intel also requires the Centrino to include their integrated wireless networking solution, the Intel PRO/Wireless 2100. For now it only comes in one flavor, 802.11b, where the "a" and "g" are not supported, yet.

For consumers, the Centrino logo on the laptop will guarantee that the wireless features will work at one of the thousands of "hot-spots"—coffee shops, airports, hotels, book stores—that are signing up for Intel's wireless-access program (and that will also display the Centrino logo).

It's Intel's world, baby, and you better start getting used to it! If you can wait on a laptop purchase, hold out for a few months and see how the wireless issues sort out. They're saying the "g" option won't be ready until the end of the year, though. I could not find out if a laptop could be retrofitted/upgraded once the "g" option is available. AMD has also announced some new low power-usage processors dedicated for mobile applications, but they do not seem (at first glance) to offer the performance of a Centrino-based system.

This could be the new technology breakthrough that will put some giddyup back into the economy, depending on how fast Intel can pump out processors. I can see the laptops initially having impressive sales. The real killer app will be a Blackberry-Tablet PC-cell phone device that would be about twice the size of a typical cell phone. It would consist of a clamshell unit with a 4" screen, and possibly also have a camera for limited video conferencing. You could also plug it into a docking station at home or work to use as a standard PC, where the docking station would have the keyboard, mouse, power supply, video screen, extra hard-drive and DVD burner.

If only I was smart enough to actually build it - whoa!

Posted by MarcV, 10:05 AM link

MONKEY BLOG - Mr. Possumblogger has a chuckler (much better than Argus) on a new group blog. I'm checking in with him to see if this could be an alternative to the Axis of Weevil, which seems to be getting "corpulent". Maybe we could start to work on the requirements for joining the Mon(ey)key blog and generating some revenue out of this posting effort ... well, it's hard enough keeping up with one blog, and having to contribute to a group blog with virtual strangers? Anyhow, go read it for yourself - vintage Possum posting.

Posted by MarcV, 8:55 AM link

Take Two
Today's double shot of funnies from the comedian Argus Hamilton [these are not very funny, just slightly humorous]:

The New York Yankees fined David Wells $100,000 for the controversial things he wrote in his just-published autobiography. The team gave his book $10 million dollars worth of free publicity for $100,000. So let's hope he's learned his lesson.

Senate Republicans plan to vote to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling by next week. Objections are strenuous. The French Ambassador is demanding that the United States government give the Caribou more time to cooperate.

Posted by MarcV, 8:55 AM link

March 12, 2003

Like a certain marsupial blogger, the work thingy is keeping me hopping and away from posting. For those of you desperate for a Take Two fix, he has not had a funny one in three days. Argus seems to be working over the same tired cliches of Bush as cowboy, Texas putdowns and bad Hollywood references. He even mentioned something about God campaigning for Hillary - it makes me sick just to type it. Maybe tomorrow he'll come up with a few chucklers. Hey, maybe I should come up with some of my own!?! Scandalous!

For those who would like to see some faith in action, go visit Irene. She has a good post on affliction and righteousness. God is alive and at work around us, and it's up to us to offer Him our worship as a sacrifice no matter our circumstances, for He is worthy.

Posted by MarcV, 2:00 PM link

More UN Junk

I know most of us are tired of hearing about the UN-French yada yada, but OpinionJournal has a good editorial out today on why delay is costing us. It makes me quite sad to know that Mexico is being obstinate. I realize that they want to avoid the appearance of looking like Uncle Sam's lapdog, but there is a time to stand up for what is right. They could even be upset about some other trade/immigration issues and trying to take it out on us this way.

Mexican and French soldiers will not be doing any dying once the war finally does start. That privilege will belong to Americans (and some Brits and Aussies), and every day that they are prevented from starting to disarm Saddam is one more day he is able to prepare death traps for them and for us.
There are now daily reports that the Iraqi dictator has booby-trapped oil wells, dispersed his mobile poison labs or placed agents among Iraqi civilians. Yesterday's AP dispatch had him opening "a training camp for Arab volunteers willing to carry out suicide bombings against U.S. forces." Every day of delay also gives him, or al Qaeda, more time to plant or mobilize agents to attack the U.S. homeland.

Finally, the following is a right-on, hit the hammer on the head observation: "As each day passes, the evidence mounts that the U.N. inspections regime is not about containing Saddam; it is about containing America." I hope our President and his administration recognize that their first priority is to the US and defending the Constitution, because it sure seems like we are spending way too much time at the UN.

Posted by MarcV, 1:52 PM link

March 11, 2003

Larry Miller has another good one on the war and stuff over at Weekly Standard. I like how he ended it.

FoxNews updates on the Mother of All Bombs (MOAB) that has everyone all a-twitter. 10 1/2 tons of exploding bombitude - "Hey, that blowed up real good!" The Daisy Cutter only weighs in at 7 1/2 tons. I was surprised to see that the MOAB had not been tested before today (least-ways what they are telling us), but they say they will be ready for Iraq:

"If the war fighter wanted to use it, I'm sure we could make some available," Swinson said, adding that he had no information whether or when the weapon might be used in combat.

Yeah, we got a couple right here on the shelf - hold on a minute and I'll get one down. Paper or plastic?

Posted by MarcV, 4:25 PM link

Have not seen anybody else bite on my suggestion for bloggers to post on their Pastor's sermons. That's OK, I knew it was a long shot. Most bloggers are stubborn when it comes to someone else "suggesting" the posts they should make. It's a free blogosphere that only costs time. I hope folks will look at posting on sermons as something beneficial, and not because someone or everyone else is doing it.

Posted by MarcV, 4:23 PM link

The Shepherd

William Bennett has a good article over at NRO on war protestors and justification for liberating Iraq. He recalls the words of Abraham Lincoln:

Lincoln described liberty by a useful analogy: "The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep's throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty." Lincoln made it clear who the sheep was and who the wolf was. It is equally important to recognize who the liberator is. Those who march against the U.S. and the U.K. today, those who condemn Bush and Blair and remain silent when it comes to Hussein, are in league with the wolf's view that the shepherds are destroying liberty. The people of Iraq will soon know what Afghanis know. The true wolf was devouring Afghanis, the true shepherd saved them.

Yes, I know they have a right to protest, and war is not acceptable under any circumstance for some. But in the end, whose side are you on, and just what are you defending? The diplomatic foot dragging has become very frustrating.

AAARRRRGH! PLEASE quit dinking around, put your Uncle Sammy foot down and set a deadline already! Are we delaying so Cameroon and New Guinea can climb on board the compromise train? It's frustrating when Pres. Bush says we will go it alone if necessary, not kowtowing to the UN, then we keep doing the Col. Colin three-step (and it ain't no electric slide boogie neither). I'm discumbobulated to the point of using "ain't".

Reports are coming in that the troops are getting bored and need entertainment. If we're not careful we could have them stationed there too long and they run out of batteries for their GameBoys and mp3 players. I realize that the Turkey turnaround and full moon on 3/18 are hurting our "readiness", but by setting the deadline we can get the ball rolling to resolve this mess. We know by now who is for us and who is against us. Maybe we could get Iraq to pull the trigger prematurely and see if they have any tricks up their sleeve.

We also have the concern of inhospitable conditions, heat and sandstorms, the more we delay. I wonder if sandstorms would help us, though, by dispersing any chemical/biological bombs that Iraq may throw at the troops. At the very least, bad weather conditions would diminish the Iraqi's ability to accurately deliver a WMD. In the back of their minds the Iraqis know that they better make their first shot a good shot, because payback will be h-e-double toothpicks.

Posted by MarcV, 11:08 AM link

March 10, 2003

Couch Tater Critic

- The "Batman Reunion" movie had some good moments, and I liked the format (original stars, flashbacks to life off-camera using actors that resembled the originals back then), but overall I would have to give it a thumbs down. Part of the draw for the original show was that kids could watch it, and it was mildly entertaining for adults too. The show last night broke away from the original's "libido teasing" and focused too much on woman's breasts as well as the actors hopping into bed with other starlets.
Some folks would probably object to the original show's use of tight costumes and sexual innuendo, but it was presented in a way to go over kid's heads. Last nights show caused me to change channels to avoid exposing my son to the junk they were showing. Fortunately he went to bed before the worst parts were aired in the second half of the movie. I guess you can never really go back. They could only scare up two original criminals, Catwoman and Riddler, and they (Julie Newmar, Frank Gorshin) still looked great, along with Lee Meriwether who made a cameo appearance.

- Our PBS station is in their "donation request" mode again, and in between pleas they slipped in the Gaither Homecoming special tribute to Rev. Billy Graham last night. Out of all the Gaither video's, this is probably the best one. After that they showed the PBS special on the lives of Billy and Ruth Graham, narrated by Walter Cronkite (it has been shown before). It was humbling to see how much Ruth Graham has sacrificed to support the ministry.
Both shows get two big thumbs way up. Being in the "Bible Belt" as well as the homestate of Mr. Graham, I can understand the local PBS stations showing these two specials. Would any other PBS system in the country show a Gaither homecoming video? Perhaps some of the Deep South states (SC, GA, AL, MS), maybe.

- It took about a week, but Lady Tater and I finally made it through Dead Man's Walk, the prequel to Lonesome Dove (my favorite Western). DMW was entertaining at times, but it would rank last out of the 4 Lonesome Dove movies that have been made. At nearly 4 1/2 hours, it takes time to work through all of it. It does have a handicap of trying to live up to Lonesome Dove, with the actors taking on some of the mannerisms of the original actors. I would give it a mild thumbs up.
DMW does have Jennifer Garner making an appearance as Clara. My wife couldn't believe that it was the same actress who stars in Alias (on FoxTV) as well as Daredevil. I realize the core of the movie is the march of the prisoners across the desert into Mexico, but it just seemed dumb to me to even try it. For those who make it through the movie, the surprise ending was very interesting. It took me awhile to make sense of it, but I understand why the British woman did what she felt was necessary. Supposedly Mr. McMurtry wrote another prequel, Comanche Moon, that I would like to see made into another movie.
I have a post about Gus, Capt.Call, and how people try to put down cowboys running in my head ... guess I'll save it for another day.

Posted by MarcV, 9:44 AM link

Sermon Notes 3/9/03

[My Pastor has been in a series about the Holy Spirit, hearing from God and receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, so he has not necessarily altered or changed his message based on current events.]
The common experience through Christianity is hearing the Word of God. Romans 10:17 spells it out plainly - "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." One of the biggest problems we have is not taking the time to hear from God, but going about our busy lives, just taking a "prayer pause" to give Him our laundry list of requests. Ecclesiastes 5:1-2

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.
Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.

We serve an active God who is always at work for our good [praise God!] (John 5:17). Not listening to Him can result in dire consequences (Is. 30:15, Prov. 8:33-36). The Apostle Paul, starting in Galatians 3:2 asks:

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4 Have you suffered so much for nothing--if it really was for nothing? 5 Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
The Holy Spirit Baptism is not something you earn by reaching a quota for prayer, avoiding sin, going on missionary trips, or whatever Christian service you can sweat at. It is simply a gift of God, given to the believer who has aligned his faith in a way that pleases God. It does not make you any better or worse than another believer. It will open the door to a richer, more meaningful relationship with the Lord. All you have to do is simply ask for it by faith and listen for His Word.

Posted by MarcV, 9:41 AM link

March 07, 2003

High Noon Meets Seinfeld

Victor Davis Hanson posts them, and I link them. Today he gives his perspective on how times have changed, the expectations for a "clean" war, and just who is responsible for this war. If you do read the article, keep going after the "press conference" that he envisions happening in about a month, because he has some excellent arguments about this present age. I'm still trying to figure out the Potemkin reference:

There is a Potemkin phoniness to this war to come. We live in a world of images broadcast immediately into our living rooms without commentary — or, indeed, any intellectual context at all. Thus, because a Tariq Aziz — a really murderous, awful man — can get on a plane to the Vatican without his holster, he looks to the ignorant as if he were a jet-setting, press-conference-convening statesman like Tony Blair. Dan Rather sits across from a mass murderer in a Western tie and suit and questions the tyrant as if he is interviewing the head of the local school board.

There is this definition: "...a pretentiously showy or imposing façade intended to mask or divert attention from an embarrassing or shabby fact or condition." Yeah, that seems to fit. Some people seem to be so driven in not seeing evil for what it is, of the concept that there are no enemies, they end up bending backwards to accomodate people who want to kill us. Our Christian faith calls for us to love our brothers and feed our hungry enemies.

Romans 12:17-21
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary:

"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

I'm not sure where I am going with this, because I seem to be between a rock and a hard place, or maybe Iraq and a hard head. We're not taking revenge on Iraq, but rather removing the source of tyranny and repression, so that people can be free to govern themselves, worship God as they see fit, and be less of a threat to the rest of the civilized world. I just don't see any way of avoiding the initial "extraction" pain in order to liberate Iraq.

Enough blather. Mr. Hanson has some good points, so go read it for yourself.

Posted by MarcV, 12:17 PM link

A Timely Reminder

Rod Dreher over at NRO's Corner gave this link for a memorial to 9/11/01. It helps remind us of the jihad that was brought to our shores, one of the reasons we fight the war on terrorism. It is a 7 MB download of a slide show with music, and be sure to have at least 15 minutes free once you start it. Some tissues to dab the corner of leaky eyes may be useful.

It has been a year and a half, but the time elapsed has not erased my grief, or my anger at those who would plan and accomplish these acts of terrorism. They will have no rest, as they are hunted down and brought to justice. I pray that God will give us steady and sure guidance during this struggle.

Posted by MarcV, 12:16 PM link

The Pres. Says

Haven't read any other blogs yet since seeing the President last night. It had the feeling that he was announcing the 2 minute warning at the end of a game. How many different ways can you announce that Saddam is toast without actually saying it? One of the reporters actually said, "I know you don't want to tip your hand, but ..." He answered, "You're right, I will not tip my hand...", and then almost went to the next question. The wrap-up I saw on NBC pretty much hit the nail on the head: Pres. Bush has acknowledged that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the country, and that he (the President) has a Constitutional duty to protect the country.

I also liked it when one of the reporters tried to corner the President in defining success by Saddam's capture or death, and he would not bite. The President did define success by regime change. I would have said that yeah, of course we would like to capture Saddam, and then talk about regime change, but Pres. Bush would not even go there. He did also mention that it would be great if Saddam fled the country, but he didn't expect it.

The most galling part of the press conference was when some noodle-head wanted the President to reassure the American public that this would not be another Vietnam. If someone brings this up again, can we amend the Godwin law (similar to invoking Hitler in an argument) and take away their press credentials? The Vietnam War is history, we learned from it, now let's move on. I can get a better appreciation for why the job was not finished 12 years ago, when the administration back then was getting hounded every day about the Iraqi situation being another Vietnam quagmire. Part of me wanted Pres. G.W. Bush to say that they were finishing up what was left undone 12 years ago, but I understand why he does not say that.

Based on the press conference last night, something should be happening militarily in the next two weeks (but I have been wrong before on my predictions!).

Posted by MarcV, 9:48 AM link

Take Two
Today's double shot of funnies from the comedian Argus Hamilton:

U.S. Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis told Pentagon reporters Tuesday the U.S. has moved bombers closer to North Korea. It's ominous. You know President Bush just saw Gods and Generals when he assigns a guy named Jeff Davis to justify an attack upon the North.

The Supreme Court upheld California's Three Strikes law and let stand a life sentence to a shoplifter. The court said it's reasonable to crack down on repeat offenders. It isn't practical to give every felon as many chances as Saddam Hussein.

[some extra funnies today - well, I got a chuckle out of them!]

Iran proposed a last-minute plan Tuesday to avoid a U.S. war on Iraq. Iranians must be terrified. Right now, whether they live or they die depends on whether President Bush pronounces Iraq correctly when he gives the order to start the bombing.

The Drudge Report says CBS' 60 Minutes has hired Bill Clinton and Bob Dole to do a point-counterpoint debate every Sunday night. They are natural opponents. One is the paid spokesman for Viagra and the other is the best argument against it.

Posted by MarcV, 9:22 AM link

March 06, 2003

Sermon Notes

In the last few weeks I have made more of an effort to write down key points during my Pastor's sermon each Sunday. It can be easy to just sit back and let the words sink in, or bounce off of you depending on your mood. By making an effort to take notes, you should find that you retain more of what was preached and hopefully apply it in some way to your personal situation. You may even find yourself (pleasantly) surprising your Pastor by discussing a topic from his sermon days later.

Starting Monday I will be posting a brief paragraph or two on my Pastor's sermon, as well as citing any key verses related to the sermon. I encourage all of my Christian blogger friends to post on their Pastor's message. What topics are being preached at various churches? I believe that discovering this can be possible through the power of blogging.

In particular, during this time of Lent and the imminent invasion of Iraq, is God working through our Pastors and guiding them to present a common message? I hope, at the very least for those who don't ordinarily take notes during a sermon, you will find that note-taking helps reduce the incidence of heavy eyelids-eyes rolling up-head nodding (and snoring?) that can afflict you during a sermon. So please, at least through Easter Sunday as we prepare to celebrate Jesus Christ's glorious victory over death, share with the blogosphere what your Pastor is sharing with you.

Posted by MarcV, 10:49 AM link

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