July 31, 2003

Sleep on It

Over at CareerJournal, they posted an article about taking naps on the job, as well as a follow-up where people wrote in on some of their experiences:

I used to think that old people take naps. Now I realize that old people are the ones who've gotten out from under a boss, and can do what makes sense without penalty. The equation is old people = no boss, and not old people = need naps.

Here in the server cave, it can be quite tempting to have a 3 pm power-nap, but so far the fear of being caught has kept the Spud eyes open (sometimes marginally). The body naturally seeks a rest period during the mid-afternoon, and many cultures embrace the siesta philosophy. The "24/7 what have you done for me today" mentality in the US makes even trying to broach the subject a no-no. If you're the boss, then you can put a "DO NOT DISTURB" sign on the door. A problem with that is sometimes people bug you because they feel they can't make decisions on their own. From the first article linked:

At his former packaging company, Dick Nicholson retreated to the bathroom stall. Meanwhile, the president of the company "had napping down to a science," he says. The chief would turn his high-backed chair to the door and use his disconnected phone handset as a pillow. It's obvious to Mr. Nicholson, himself an executive, that the more zeros in your salary, the more z's in your workday. "It was a privilege of rank," he says. No kidding.

...Bill Anthony, who founded the Napping Company to promote dozing at work, says companies don't have to set up special sleeping rooms, they can just institutionalize nap breaks the way they have the coffee break. Not doing so will force nappers to come up with excuses like those of Mr. Anthony, such as: "I'm meditating on the mission statement and envisioning a new paradigm," or "They told me at the blood bank this might happen."

Posted by MarcV, 10:27 AM link

It's two days old but I still want to post on it. This Scrappleface post is one of his best, so I'm going to reprint all of it:

Airline Passenger to Al Qaeda: 'Bring it On'

(2003-07-29) -- In response to the Homeland Security Department's warning about an increased risk of al-Qaeda airline hijackings, an unnamed frequent flyer said, "Bring it on."

The business traveler who flies weekly, said, "If any of those al-Qaeda punks try to take over one of my flights, I guarantee you that me and a bunch of other laptop jockeys will treat them like the baggage handlers treat our luggage. When we're done with those terrorists, they'll no longer be able to place their tray tables in the full, upright, and locked position."

The frequent flyer went on to quote Harrison Ford's character from the movie Air Force One: "Atrocity and terror are not political weapons, and those who would use them, your day is over. We will never negotiate. We will no longer tolerate and we will no longer be afraid. It's your turn to be afraid."

Thank God for President Bush and his leadership, facing down the terrorists who would do us harm and letting them know that we will stand and fight for what we believe in. It would be nice if we could live in a world where we could "all just get along", but that will have to wait until New Jerusalem's gates are open. Until then, we need to take care of business.

Posted by MarcV, 8:35 AM link


My prayers go out to the laid-off workers at Pillowtex (as well as others about the country):

In what North Carolina officials are calling the largest mass job loss in state history, Pillowtex Corp. closed its 16 plants in the United States and Canada on Wednesday andterminated 6,450 workers, more than 4,000 of them in North Carolina.
The company's most valuable assets are its brand names, which include Charisma, Fieldcrest, Royal Velvet and Cannon, said Tom O'Shea, a management consultant who follows the textile industry for Renaissance Management Group in Greensboro. Pillowtex makes sheets, towels, bedspreads, rugs, comforters and other household linens.

In business for over a hundred years, and they could not adapt to the changing business environment. Many of you are very familiar with those brands, and there was mention of some companies trying to buy the rights to those names. This is the second time in three years that Pillowtex has filed for bankruptcy. The people who worked there, though, have literally been thrown out on the street.

Many former employees have not received back vacation pay, and it is unclear if they ever will. "I just don't know what to do," said Yvonne Wilson, 53, who worked as an inspector at the Eden plant for 35 years. "There's people out there who aren't going to have enough money for food, for their kids, for school supplies." In Rockingham County, which already has a 9.1 percent unemployment rate, Eden Mayor Phil Price said Wednesday, "this has cast a pall across our entire community. It's simply devastating."

... Pillowtex is just the latest in a long line of textile companies that have fallen prey to low-cost manufacturers abroad, particularly in Asia. Recent bankruptcies include Burlington Industries and WestPoint Stevens. Textile leaders say their industry has lost 271,000 jobs since 2001.

The furniture industry has also been hit hard, where thousands of jobs have also been lost and will probably never return. Furniture workers in this area (NC & VA) have actually held protests and marched on the streets, objecting to the trade policies that have allowed the Asian tiger to capture more of the American market. Gov. Easy-Money joined the chorus decrying the imports:

Easley, Gephardt and UNITE [union textile employees] all placed the blame for the closings on the federal government's free-trade policies. "We are frustrated by the continuation of federal trade policies that are wreaking havoc on textile and manufacturing communities like Kannapolis and Eden," Easley said Wednesday.

There are no easy answers to this situation. The future of the US and world is best served by open markets, but what looks like free trade to someone may appear unfair to someone else. We need to strive for fair trade, but as the 800 lb. gorilla in the marketplace, other countries will try to take advantage of us, thinking that since we are so big and prosperous that we can handle it.

It's incredible that small things like buying dishtowels or pillowcases can have such a huge impact on a community. While you can still "buy American" on high-end items like furniture, for folks like me who have to squeeze their wallet hard to buy a chair or table, most if not all of the low-end/"value" furniture is imported. While being patriotic in the marketplace is a nice sentiment, we are driven now by a world economy and there's no turning back. Short-term we can continue to drive for fair trading, knowing that we will need a special effort to compete with low-wage countries. Or face a declining standard of living.

Posted by MarcV, 8:32 AM link

July 30, 2003

I should probably post more about Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, because there's so many good stories there and at a bargain price! For those who have never checked out the site, go visit Dead Mule, and enjoy all of the excellent writing. And if you know about it, have you bookmarked it yet? I like short stories, and they have a heap of good-uns. Be careful not to be drinking anything when you get to the end of "Cousin Dixie and the Talking Dog" by Linda Easley, or you may have to clean your screen.

Posted by MarcV, 9:08 AM link

Take Two

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

Bob Hope passed away in Southern California Monday just two months after the entire nation celebrated his one hundredth birthday. Bob Hope was always a friend to elected officials. The estate taxes alone could save Gray Davis's job.

Lance Armstrong captured the Tour de France Sunday as he bicycled across the finish line before hundreds of thousands of fans in Paris. What an athlete. This was his fifth victory in France, tying the previous record which was held by Germany.

Posted by MarcV, 8:26 AM link

I have been following some Cubs blogs this summer, awakening a slumbering baseball interest that had lain dormant for about 15 years. The Cubs are interesting enough to watch again, and reading the Cubs blogs has helped me to follow the team, much better than newspaper accounts. To get to some of them, click on the "Antioch Road" link in the right hand column, and then click on the "Clark and Addison" link from there.

One blog that has fascinated me this summer is The Waveland Chronicles. This is written by a guy who actually hangs out before and during the game just outside of Wrigley on Waveland Ave. and waits for balls to clear the fence. He's a pretty good blogger, but usually only posts on home games, including his post-game "harvest" (balls gathered during batting practice and the game). The Cubs won last night, and he included a tip:

Hey, here's a tip for all you youngsters at home -- don't schedule an eye doctor appointment on game day! I had one this afternoon where of course they did the dilate the eyes with drops thing. It's tough enough picking up the ball when you can't see it until it comes up through/over the screen -- it's darn near impossible when you got pupils the size of flying saucers. Finally started to wear off about halfway through the Giants session and I got a couple near the end.

He has 25 game balls, and nearly 500 from batting practice so far this season. I don't know what he does with all of them, but if I find out I'll post on it.

Posted by MarcV, 8:24 AM link

July 29, 2003

Another comments change. backblog just did not have the uptime that I was hoping for. When it worked, it did quite well, but it is not useful if the downtime is excessive. I saw the Squawkbox and decided to give this one a try. Yeah, lots of folks use Haloscan, but if everyone used that, where would we be, eh?

Posted by MarcV, 3:01 PM link

Paul Gigot, an editor at Wall St. Journal has been in Iraq with the Paul Wolfowitz caravan, and has had a chance to speak to both Iraqis and American soldiers. He posted a good one yesterday. It's long but worth your time.

Posted by MarcV, 2:01 PM link

Quick story:

Lady Spud signed up the youngster for a one hour class in manners (Manners for Little Ones or something like that). She went to drop him off yesterday, in his usual summer attire of t-shirt/shorts/sandals. Upon arrival she notices that all the young ladies are in dresses, and the young men in dress shirts with collars. Lady Spud is duly embarrassed, while the youngster just walks in and doesn't seem to notice. You can take them out of the country but you can't take the country out of them! The youngster did get his certificate, but we have not noticed an improvement in manners yet.

Posted by MarcV, 12:03 PM link

Report from Bear's camp:

On his way into the dining hall for lunch Monday, Jauron was stopped by a young man at the entrance—but not for an autograph. Seems he had forgotten his ID badge and the security employee told him he couldn't enter without it.

Ever polite, Jauron walked back to retrieve his badge without informing him who he was.

Just like Mike Ditka surely would have done.

Posted by MarcV, 12:02 PM link

July 28, 2003

Weekend Wrap-Up

So far I'm still keeping the blood from spurting out of my tongue due to the "oil-for-blood" slant that my brother-in-law is taking. Lady Spud got to hear it this morning, but she is far more patient than I. Arguing with him will probably not change his mind, so we'll just hopefully coast the rest of the way.

I should not have labeled the event with Darrell Evans last night a "concert". They played about an hour's worth of songs, then he gave a "talk" for about twenty minutes while the band took a break. The band came back for about 3 songs, then the two hours were up. Before the final set, he actually asked the audience if there was some songs they should have done but didn't. I was so shocked that I couldn't speak up, but wished I had. If you go see him be ready to shout out your favorites.

They started the night with "Freedom" (where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom), then "Trading My Sorrows". Just outstanding. He went through some new songs, only sang "Let the River Flow" from the first album, and then went into his talk. He brought up a good point, that in order to realize the best we can from our relationship with the Lord we need to find a secret place, away from the distractions of the world. When we get to that point, then we can bring out the bad secrets that we don't want to face, but need to do (not that there's any secrets from God).

He gave a humorous anecdote from one of his teachers at bible college. His teacher would make a habit of getting two maple frosted donuts, one for him and one for Jesus, in the morning, and then go to his secret place. After spending time with the Lord, he would eat his donut, and Jesus would always let him eat His donut. I don't think I'll go the donut route (my waistline would expand too much) but I was convicted of the need to find and utilize my secret place.

He has ten more tour stops: a brief jog up north, then back south to Fla., with the final dates in Texas. If you can get there, go! I was disappointed to see the church a little over half-full, and wanted to sing with hundreds/thousands of brothers and sisters. He has a beautiful voice, and it will touch your heart to praise God along with him.

Posted by MarcV, 2:26 PM link

July 27, 2003

Sunday Post!

Yes, it's Sunday and I'm missing church to "entertain" my sister and crew while they are visiting. They just left to go visit my other sister, so I'm waiting for Lady Spud and young'n to get back home. They came in Friday night, and I wasn't sure I would last the extended weekend or not. My 10 year old nephew has one of those laser pointers, and one thing that really irks me is a kid shining lasers around. Then I find out my brother-in-law thinks that the US is profiting from Iraqi oil (yes, one of those), so I bit my tongue and for now I have not had to draw blood.

Anticipation has been building for quite awhile and will now find its release tonight, when I take Lady Spud to a concert that I have been looking forward to for over 5 years, Darrell Evans. As an added bonus, my sister will baby-sit the Li'l Tater, since he's not quite ready yet to "endure" about 2 hours of concert. I'll try to get an update on the event tomorrow, although I am trying to take most of the day off to spend more time with my sister before she heads to Myrtle Beach. Since I am on call 24/7 and could not get someone from our "corporate" group to cover for me, I still need to be attached to my cell phone tomorrow, just in case.

Sports Update
Tour de pants,
Tour de Lance,
Tour de France. (That's all I'm gonna say about that.)

- The Chicago Bears have signed their two top picks, Haynes and Grossman, and have started the "drive to the Superbowl" camp. Anyone interested in hopping on the 19-0 bandwagon can e-mail me for further instructions. It's good to see the first-rounders signed, and I hope that Haynes will give the Bears a much-needed speed rusher.
- The Cubs won a great game Friday night, then left their bats back at the hotel yesterday as they got 2 hit and lost. Lofton seems to be fitting right in, but Ramirez is struggling. Ramirez was the only one to get a hit yesterday, though. Hopefully their hitting will erupt today so that they can win this series.
- Howzabout a 49 year old guy leading a PGA tournament? Peter Jacobsen is going into the final round today to take one away from the youngsters. Granted, many of the big names on the tour sat out this weekend to recover from jet lag due to the British Open. Unfortunately, the Greater Hartsford Open has been consumed with the Suzi story, where a woman wormed her way into the tournament under questionable circumstances. She did not make the cut, but surprisingly a few males shot worse than she did. What's up with David Duval? He was the last golfer to be ranked #1 before Tiger ascended to the top spot. Now he's struggling so bad, he may just drop out. Golf can be a funny game.

Posted by MarcV, 12:38 PM link

July 25, 2003

Sandwich Time

Took in a great show last night on PBS: Sandwiches That You Will Like. They had some roast beef sandwiches on there that nearly brought a tear to my eye. The glaring omission last night was no reference to North Carolina barbecue sandwiches, and the clash of eastern vs. western. The show originated out of Pittsburgh, so what do they know about barbecue?

I missed the first five or so minutes, but from what I could tell the first mention of "barbecue" came when they turned their attention to St. Louis. When they showed the restaurant's sign my first thought was "Uh-oh, hope Russ from over at TacJammer is not watching", since he feels pretty strongly about what gets labeled barbecue. The view then switched to the sandwich: piece of white bread, cooked pig's ear drenched in bbq sauce plopped on top. Yum. The other barbecue place mentioned was one run by a lady in Houston, who realized her dream of opening a small place that smoked and cooked ribs, brisket, pork and whatever else she liked cooking on the grill.

The sandwiches from Philadelphia brought back fond memories, as I was able to live in that area for about a year and enjoy some of the culinary delights, such as a cheesesteak from Pat's and hoagies. One sandwich they did not mention that Lady Spud and I enjoyed was the souvlaki sandwiches from a small place on South Street. After checking out the recently released LP's (this was late 80's) at Tower Records, we would chow down on some lamb in pita.

I did become weak in the knees when they got around to Italian beef sandwiches from Chicago. I sure do miss them (but my waistline doesn't!), and usually get at least one every time I go back. They mentioned Mr. Beef, but the one on Taylor St. (next to the U of I Circle Campus) ranks right up there too.

One of the best parts of the show was people displaying their fierce loyalty for particular sandwiches. No matter how homogenized we as a country become due to cable TV and the Internet, we get picky about particular sandwiches and foods. Someone else can try to duplicate a particular recipe, but it's just not the same as the original. Even though some of the sandwiches on the show may not have been very appealing, just be sure that you do not watch this show on an empty stomach, or you'll be hurting.

Posted by MarcV, 3:54 PM link

He rights another good one, answering 5 typical questions that the naysayers throw up: Victor Davis Hanson on Iraq on National Review Online. Be sure to read all the way to the postscript and his take on the "hysteria".
[NOTE(4 pm): That should be "writes", but rights kinda fits too.]

Posted by MarcV, 12:11 PM link

July 24, 2003

Happy HookUp

Light posting today. I have finally switched computers at work today, so I'm trying to get the new one in proper shape. It's a moo-cow P4 2.4 GHz, and it's pretty fast. I switched to this in order to get away from a laptop. I just don't like LCD screens, particularly in a room that has fluorescent lights. They're just not bright or sharp enough.

I had the laptop with the intention of dialing into the network for remote "servicing" from home, but that never really worked out either. I may just use my cell phone, hook it up to a modem in my home computer, and dial in that way. I had to rearrange equipment on my desk, so my wasabi is all messed up, and my feng shui isn't doing much better either.

I also got my computer kit at the house yesterday, so from about 6:30 to 11:30 I was setting up that unit. For $400 I'm set on a P4 with the Intel 845 chipset and other stuff. This should keep me current for at least 2 years, where I will have the room and underlying technology to upgrade as needed (when I can afford it). Again, if anyone is interested in getting some advice/help in setting up a cheap but powerful computer, let me know and I'll be glad to give a hand. It's working great so far, and Lady Spud is happy to have her RoadRunner back so that she can listen to music.

Putting it together brought back some memories of college days. When the loan payout check would come at the beginning of the semester, it was time to buy some toys at the stereo store. Ahh, sweet memories of bringing back boxes to the dorm room, hooking up the different components, and then testing it out on a choice LP. Last night Lady Spud took the youngster to VBS, so I just happened to have a vintage copy of "Close to the Edge" (anyone know which group?) set to a fairly loud volume setting. Is it primarily only men who have that urge to put on some music when working on something, like putting together computers?

Unlike college days, though, just when Rick Wakeman got to his organ "wall of sound", someone who does not appreciate fine music happened to come back. Back about 20 years ago I couldn't wait to have my own house with my own music room. Now that I do have it I usually don't have the opportunity to turn it up, and even when I am on my own I'll just occasionally put something on the stereo. Kind of like when you were a kid and wanted to buy a whole box of candy, and couldn't even afford one candy bar. Now you sometimes have enough money to buy a whole display rack of candy, but you just get the one bar. Life's funny that way...

Posted by MarcV, 5:01 PM link

July 23, 2003

Gone South

Miss Janis over at Gone South seems to be getting back into good blogging health, and included some good posts over the last few days. She is going through something that I would tend to do if I'm ever confronted with an in-ground pool: fill in the cotten-pickin thang! And regrets, oh she has a few (although it did keep her kids occupied during the summers)

I have regrets, too. I regret the $10,000 or so we've funneled into the thing the past ten years. That might have been a nice fishing boat that would have finally shut his Daddy up.

Posted by MarcV, 4:42 PM link

Referral Log Fun

With the Extreme tracking, I am getting a little better handle on what phrases are bringing in the search engine hits. This one sounded hopeful: please please please please fingers crossed. Sounds like someone really really really wanted something, but they don't specify how many fingers they crossed.

Apparently there's something new on the menu: "Wendy's" and "mealworms"(Spudlets made the top ten on this one - woohoo). What salad dressing would go with mealworms? Could be one of those "meat substitutes" that's supposed to be healthy for you. Chickens love 'em!

Posted by MarcV, 1:09 PM link

After hearing about the demise of the Hussein boys, at first I wanted more evidence (i.e show me!), and then I felt sad that it had come to killing, rather than capturing them alive. I find myself fighting the side of me that wants to celebrate their death, for these were bad people who have committed untold number of atrocities. You may have heard some tastless jokes about them already. It's with mixed feelings that I offer up the following.
Great idea, Mr. Scrappleface: invite Saddam to give the eulogy at a state funeral for his sons.

The allied commander said Mr. Hussein's remarks would last "roughly 7.5 seconds, after which the former Iraqi leader, doubtless with a heavy heart, will return to an underground bunker."

I saw this from one of the comments on the post and nearly splattered some of my lunch on the video screen:

uday and qusai are edday, onay erginsvay!

Posted by MarcV, 1:06 PM link

Louder Fenn has apparently made his last post, and says he is going for good. He had been down to once a week, and had also been offline for a few months last year (I think?). He seems to be serious this time. He's a good writer and will be missed. That's part of the blogosphere - in for free, out as you please.

Posted by MarcV, 1:05 PM link

July 22, 2003

I Know This World Is Killing You

Possum Pappie linked to Allison's site, where she posted about her joy at getting some search engine hits. I read down a few posts, since I hadn't visited in awhile, and came up to a personal one (dated July 17 - her link HTML is not formatted properly) that made me stop reading afterwards. I feel like I can't read another blog until I post. Allison was trying to get her hands around the meaning of ugly, and what she went through in school. Here's what she said, starting at middle school:

So I wonder now. Again, was it because I didn't wear the right clothes, because I didn't wear makeup, or act stupid, or hang out with the right people? It was pretty much the same in high school.

I really, really do wonder why some people are seen as ugly, and others deemed popular. What are the requirements to be cool? Because, even though I gave up on that in sixth grade, no one ever let me know. And why do kids have to be so superficial and shallow about all that rot, anyway? It can be really damaging to the psyche and all that. Me, I know that I'll always believe I'm ugly, no matter what anyone else says, because of the teasing and the vibes I received in school.

After fighting the urge to give her a hug, pat her on the back and tell her things will get better, I'm still at a loss for words.

. . .

There's a part of me that wants to share the Gospel with her, but I don't know if she's ready or would be turned off. I do know that her self-image will take a turn for the better as she accepts Jesus' love and not the condemnation of her peers. God does not make ugly people, it's people that try to make other people feel ugly. Allison has a good head on her shoulders and a great sense of humor, and I don't think it will be too long before some fortunate guy figures that out and starts chasing her (in a good way).

If I may digress and turn the focus selfishly on me... the reason this post affected me so is because I also struggled those twenty-odd years ago. While I had friends and kept busy in school, my confidence was low due to acne. It wasn't until I was 24 when Accutane first came out and gave me some relief. I still have outbreaks (will they stop in my 60's?) but now I accept that people will notice and stare, and I'll keep on going along. I also have a not-so-secret weapon in my family, with a wife that loves me and a son who calls me Dad (that's the best name I've ever been called).

Perhaps Allison's post arose from one of those frustrated no-fun Friday nights (been there too). I hope the next time that mood hits her she'll look in the mirror and repeat the magic chant: I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, I'm beautiful, and doggone it people like me. There's plenty of us folks here in the Axis of Weevil who do. We may be only cyber-friends, but it counts for something.

Posted by MarcV, 1:36 PM link

Take Two

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

Colorado District Attorney Mark Hurlbert filed sexual assault charges Friday against Kobe Bryant. The superstar denied everything and went into seclusion. To attract less attention from the press, he registered at the hotel as Saddam Hussein.

Alan Greenspan said the president's tandem of tax cuts and big spending aids the economy. The budget deficit just reached $450 billion. Republicans believe that God helps those who help themselves, and for everything else there's MasterCard. [Master the possibilities.]

[And a bonus!]
Governor Gray Davis held a Democratic party rally Saturday against any recall election in November. It won't be the only thing on the ballot. English-only advocates are petitioning to have the San Andreas Fault renamed Gray Davis's Fault.

Posted by MarcV, 8:34 AM link

I had previously posted about GuruNet, a reference tool and an "information" service on the Net full of facts and trivia. A few days ago they e-mailed me, saying that they had seen my "plug" on Spudlets. My main problem with GuruNet (which I mentioned in the post) is getting around my company firewall. They had included tips in the e-mail about setting up the service with firewalls in mind, but I don't have the pull at corporate to get around it.

This strikes me as an interesting marketing device: find sites that mention your service and send them back a personalized e-mail response. They did misspell my name, both first and last, but nobody is perfect. I may set this up at home and tune my home firewall to accept GuruNet. It's no secret that I could use a spell-chekker.

Posted by MarcV, 8:32 AM link

July 21, 2003

Straight Stuff

Indigo was kind enough to reprint a long letter (wonder if she typed the whole thing?) from an Army Major in Iraq, giving his side of the story. Good reading.

Posted by MarcV, 4:37 PM link

Not that I get all that many comments, but I've had it with YACCS, and I'm switching to backBlog. If it works out, I'll post again and give a link in case anyone else is interested in getting off the YACCS train.

Posted by MarcV, 11:18 AM link

Hair Mood

Some things caught my attention this weekend, and it began to annoy me like a hair that you have in your mouth but can't seem to get out. It just struck me this morning that the common thread is hair.

- Does it seem like deja vu all over again with the Kobe Bryant story? Celebrity is charged with heinous crime, rumor mills start churning, scripted press conferences with near-tearful performances and semi-denials, and you still get that "I know I shouldn't look but I can't help myself" feeling similar to driving past a car wreck.
Nobody else has commented on this, but what is the reason for Kobe's new shaved look? Is he trying to reinvent himself, or if he happens to be cleared of charges will he grow the hair back? At one time he seemed to be part of a group trying to bring back the "Afro". It's difficult for me to understand how his wife is "standing by her man".

- ...which brings me to my next point. Mrs. Bryant has that long, brown hair that seems to be in fashion now. Even though I don't buy them, I'll check the sales circulars for new albums. Two of the biggest black female singers, Beyonce and Ashanti (no last names please), have the same type of long brown hair. When was the last time you saw a black female celebrity with an Afro? I feel a little sorry for the average black woman who has to decide whether or not to play the wig/hair extension game (to attract male attention) or just go natural.

- ...which brings me to wigs. I've searched the Internet via Google, and can't find too much on this subject. Yesterday the Greensboro paper showed a picture of a Liberian soldier in a wig and a dress, with the claim that they wear those for good luck and a belief that it will keep them from being killed. The caption gave the impression that all of the soldiers do that, but looking on the web I cannot find more that just anecdotes about the practice. I have a hunch that this is just some fringe outfit that the major media is giving some exposure. It's a crazy situation over there, and any decisions that Pres. Bush makes will be met with criticism.

Posted by MarcV, 10:44 AM link

No Saturday post, as the cable modem at home seems to have also been affected by a lightening strike. I was unable to resurrect the old computer, so we went and splurged on a new one. We have in the past had some low-powered computers that I have been able to acquire for next to nothing. Not that we can afford it, but now we will be getting a kit that includes a P4 2.4 GHz with the Intel 845 chipset, and using some of the parts from the old computer. I will keep the cost down around $400. I won't give details here, but if anyone would like help doing something like this, just e-mail me and I'll be glad to advise you.

Posted by MarcV, 10:42 AM link

July 18, 2003

Just a few personal things to wrap up the week:

- Had my first real NC Sandhills peach for this year. We bought them last Saturday, but they were so hard that I had to wait until Wednesday. Also got the first fresh home (some one else's) grown tomatoes. All were extra yummy.
- RoadRunner (internet over the cable) has been great, when we can use it. Wednesday a storm came through and seems to have messed up the home computer. We probably can't afford one, but I may end up buying a barebones kit and assemble it myself (it's not that difficult).
- Does anyone else seem to have a lingering summer cold? I thought it was due to excessive air-conditioning, but now I am not so sure. Lady Spud has had pain in her right eye, and the optometrist told her yesterday that it was probably due to allergies. He gave her some drops that have brought her some relief. I hope I am not taking on allergies as I get older. Well, at least I'm taking on the proverbial "complain about illnesses" as I age!

Y'all have a good weekend, and who knows, maybe I'll be inspired like the Possumblogger and do a rare Saturday post.

Posted by MarcV, 4:34 PM link


Victor Davis Hanson has some words of wisdom posted today over at NRO. He supports Pres. Bush's actions as a means of backing up our threats/intentions with actual deeds.

Appeasement, empty rhetoric, blackmail — all that and more was the cheap substitute for resolute and sustained military action to prevent terrorists and their supporters from killing Americans. So Afghanistan and Iraq are, in fact, important steps at reminding killers and their patrons in the Middle East that it is a foolish and quite dangerous thing to attack Americans.

The problem with deterrence — apparently sometimes forgotten by our former presidents — is that it is not static, but a creature of the moment, captive to impression, and nursed on action, not talk. It must be maintained hourly and can erode or be lost with a single act of failed nerve, despite all the braggadocio of threatened measures. And, once gone, the remedies needed for its restoration are always more expensive, deadly — and controversial — than would have been its simple maintenance.

Once again he has the right words at the right time, to help us get through this time when nattering negative pundits are crying over the uranium misinformation and whether or not the President lied to support an invasion into Iraq. He gives eight instances where the current administration took the right course. In answer to the critics:

Where critics see turmoil — chaos in Iraq, saber-rattling with Iran, and banditry in Afghanistan — there are in fact the hard birth-pangs of consensual government, and the dying of an old order of both fascism and theocracy.

Again, at any one of these junctures I think prior administrations might well have faltered, paused, or compromised — with lethal results, both for the present and future. So for all the present invective, we must keep a sense of balance about the past two years, when the tab for two decades' worth of unresponsiveness and frequent inaction finally came due on 9/11 and on this president's watch.

I'll stop here rather than reprint most of the article. Do read it all, because it's another good one.

Posted by MarcV, 4:32 PM link

July 17, 2003

You Smell Good!

Most of the passer-byers here are also fans of the Possumblogger, one of my blog pappies. During his birthday last week I made reference of his ability for attracting attention from the fairer sex (with a slight (slight) hint of jealousy). He did let me in on his secret: pheromones.

I have found the secret to the secret.

Dr. Winnifred B. Cutler, President and CEO, Athena Institute has developed and is now selling "Athena Pheromone 10x" for men, where "human pheromone power can enhance your sex-appeal and increase the romance in your life". Wow, they finally bottled it, and it's only $99.99 per bottle. So that's where Possum Papa gets his stash. Don't worry ladies, 'cause Dr. Winnie has something for you too: "Athena Pheromone 10-13" for only $98.99 (Why it's a dollar less I'll never know).

I have a hunch that the Possumblogger may have been in on some of the original research:

As a scientist, I have also studied animal pheromone and human pheromone research by credentialled scholars who have demonstrated, in several studies, that pig pheromones have a repellent effect on humans. It is humorous, but again consumers should beware, that many pheromone products claim the pig pheromone, androstenol, as their active ingredient.

Why would anyone want to attact pigs, unless it's feeding time? Soooiieee! Apparently she is covering up the fact that possum pheromones are the secret ingredient. But how does she "harvest" those pheromones, or does she synthesize them in the lab? Possumblogger did say that he wanted to avoid being a Lab Rat for a living ...
[NOTE: The above should in no way be construed as an endorsement for this product, nor am I being compensated for this post, unless someone wants to leave a comment, if stupid YACCS would be semi-reliable.]

Posted by MarcV, 5:16 PM link

Not that he needs any more publicity from me, but Lileks gets to have his blogging head expanded even more with this, The Bleat Goes On, Hugh Hewitt praising the Bleatmeister. He does tie it in nicely with newspapers and their lack of opinion/editorial writing. I have found myself spending less time on the editorial pages the last year or so, since the blogosphere has much more to offer.

Lileks is widely linked to and commented upon, and his fans stretch across the vast political spectrum of the Internet's chattering class. This is a sure sign of broad appeal because the weak are never recognized by the blogosphere and the old and the lazy are mercilessly culled from the herd. Lileks is prospering on the web because Lileks is good.

Posted by MarcV, 3:46 PM link

July 16, 2003

President's Faith

With Washington pretty much shut down until Labor Day, it will be a slow pundit season for the next 5-6 weeks. The President's recent trip to Africa has brought out some interesting opinions on what he really hopes to and has accomplished. I have seen some staunch liberals applaud him, as well as some conservatives question his priorities. Brendan Miniter over at OpinionJournal has an interesting take on some of the reasons for President Bush's interest in African affairs.

Many Christian Americans hold a special place in their hearts for Africa because the need is great and because Christianity is rapidly finding new followers on the continent. This translates into an outpouring of support. Mr. Bush is just repeating this with the full force of the U.S. government.

Uncle Sam as a missionary - I can see where there would be great benefits as well as possible (political) danger. Africa has so much potential, but those who live there have just not been able to harness the natural resources (both materials and people) to get their way out of third world status. I pray that they can turn the tide to get the foundation built properly, infrastructure (water, roads, sanitation) and stable democracies, so that they can build up a better life for future generations.

If you have the time, read the responses to the article. They run the whole range of assuming Pres. Bush's faith from evil to good. Here's a preview of what to expect next year during the election cycle:

Why, for example, did he "forget" to include the lowest income people in the child tax credit refund that he proposed that was eventually passed? Why is he such a poor steward of the environment, rolling back every regulation he can. Why does he want meaningful prescription drug coverage to be restricted to seniors who join HMO's?
[and another]
I doubt the evangelical label you would put on the president and his cohorts. Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor is still part of the Ten Commandments, and President Bush and the rest of his top staff clearly do not believe in any laws, civil or religious, against telling lies and promoting tales of falseness whenever it suits their aims.
[this is the saddest one of the bunch]
If this article is accurate. Mr. Bush is a crazy, superstitious, yahoo. And by the way, what kind of "Christian" is so fond of money, lies constantly, despoils the earth's environment, denies science in favor of "faith," unleashes killing and death, takes away civil liberties, and on and on. His interest in Africa is because of politics and the religious right kooks. He wouldn't recognize Jesus if he stood toe-to-toe with Him.

Combined with the dissent he is taking from conservatives over his proposed expansion of some federal programs, the shoo-in election he was supposed to get based on his favorable polling numbers does not look so good. God forbid, though, any of the current crop of Democrat contenders should get elected in 2004. Anyhow, it may be worth a chuckle for some of you to read the other responses and see how naive (and grievously misguided) some people are.

Posted by MarcV, 11:48 AM link

I have a new site meter, since Bravenet decided to clamp down on the freeloaders and give only minimal site statistics and information. Extreme only gives the last twenty referrals (where Bravenet used to give 50, but now only 10), but the other stats they provide are an improvement over Bravenet. I did get someone looking for government+regulations+and+krispy+cream+donuts (Spudlets made the top ten on this search - woohoo). As stated in previous posts, the only way the fat police from the government are going to get my donut is prying it out of my cold dead fingers (after the second coronary, probably!).

Posted by MarcV, 9:12 AM link

Take Two

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

President Bush said Iraq tried to buy uranium, then Friday he admitted this was based on false intelligence. CIA Director George Tenet took the blame Saturday and then Sunday everyone said it might be true after all. Tony Blair will feel right at home today seeing tourists gather outside the White House to witness the Changing of the Story. [This is more sad than funny.]

The NAACP had a Democratic candidates forum at its convention in Miami Monday. The world is way too polarized. Six candidates laid out their vision for America and then, in a straw poll, the delegates voted unanimously that Kobe didn't do it.

Posted by MarcV, 9:10 AM link

July 15, 2003

Here's a real eyebrow raiser (not) - the movie from the two former stars of American Idol(From Justin to Kelly) has turned out to be a stinker. Who'd a thunk it?

Not being a female type, I can't understand the excitement over Justin. He can't sing, can't act and he's got a perm. At least Kelly sold a few albums. Wonder what the plot will be for the From Clay to Ruben movie? I'd like to see them do something like the Beatle's Help, where the lads get into various high-jinks and have to run away from female admirers. Only Ruben gets overtaken and pulled down.

Posted by MarcV, 4:35 PM link

For those who would be interested but have not heard about it, this site will give you a quick preview of -- Mel Gibson's The Passion -- (7 MB download using Quicktime). It is especially difficult to watch if you love Jesus, but it is part of the Gospel story. I have heard that the film will not be released until Spring 2004, but maybe they will ramp that up if the demand continues to grow. They could also be timing the opening to coincide with the Easter season. I'll be there when it opens up, I just don't know what kind of shape I'll be in afterwards.

Posted by MarcV, 11:47 AM link

July 14, 2003


Quiet weekend as we enjoyed surfing at warp speed on the RoadRunner cable internet Friday night and Saturday. In spite of tearful protestations from a certain youngster, we will try to make Sunday a computer-free day. We went blueberry/blackberry picking Saturday morning. The combination of a 5 year old wanting to leave after ten minutes, combined with the sections we were working being picked over, caused our yield to be about 1/2 gal. blue, 1 gal black. We had enough for blackberry cobbler, blueberry pancakes and a batch of "bluckberry" jam (to be made tonight - hope it turns out OK).

Thursday night I took Lady Spud and Li'l Tater to the Greensboro Bats game. Mrs. Spud won the tickets ($7 each), and they turned out to be 4 rows up from where the Bats hitters warmed up. For the non-Greensboro readers, the stadium they play in is old and showing its age, so there has been a big push to build a new stadium close to downtown. This naturally raised the hackles of the sentimentalists who would rather see the old War Memorial stadium renovated. A recent judgement came down that should allow the team to start construction.

After experiencing the "services" there, I'm looking forward to a new stadium. They put the concession stands on a narrow aisleway. If the line was longer than 3 people, then others who wanted to use the aisle had to maneuver around the various lines of people waiting for drinks and food. The hot dogs were awful, and they only served Pepsi (blech). Parking was OK considering it was in the middle of a neighborhood, but if the place sold out they could have major problems.

I won't get into the actual playing of the game, keeping in mind that it is the minor (Class A) leagues. The Bats ended up winning based on their 11 run third inning. The visitors from Charleston went through three pitchers that inning. What struck me was the amount of passed balls on both sides. It seemed like they don't have catchers that understand the fundamentals of stopping the ball. We left after the fifth inning, due to the game running late because of the long third inning and (once again) the protests of a bored 5 year old. It was also getting close to his bedtime.

Will we go again this year? Probably not, but maybe when the new stadium opens in 2005.

Posted by MarcV, 11:04 AM link

Even More Navel Gazing

It's the slow summer season, and time once again to see other opinions about blogging and the effect of the blogosphere on people as well as "big media". Kevin Holtsberry, a self-admitted "struggler with blogging" guy (but he has good posts when he has a mind to), posts again on why he blogs, as well as briefly discussing the travails of a soon-to-be ex-blogger, Paul Musgrave over at Hoosier Review. Paul feels that he doesn't have enough time to support the blogosphere's frenetic pace and make effective posts. Kevin puts in his 2 cents:

Blogging is not conducive to serious study and reflection. Unless you don't mind not being read by anybody or you are already famous and can get viewers that way. The only way to get consistent readers is to post regularly. This makes it hard to read and study, for example, and still have a life.

Kathleen Parker, that womanly somewhat conservative journalist, wrote a column on blogging. Here's what a real live newspaper woman has to say:

I'm not an expert on blogging, but I am a fan. As a regular visitor to a dozen or so news and opinion blogs, I'm riveted by the implications for my profession. Bloggers are making life interesting for reluctant mainstreamers like myself and for the public, whose access to information until now has been relatively controlled by traditional media.

I say "reluctant mainstreamer" because what I once loved about journalism went missing some time ago and seems to have resurfaced as the driving force of the blogosphere: a high-spirited, irreverent, swashbuckling, lances-to-the-ready assault on the status quo. While mainstream journalists are tucked inside their newsroom cubicles deciphering management's latest "tidy desk" memo, bloggers are building bonfires and handing out virtual leaflets along America's Information Highway.

She goes on later to say that rather than hurting journalism/newspapers, that the competition will be good for the established mass media outlets. In the Opinion section of my Sunday paper, for example, I had the "privilege" of three "diverse" opinions on one page: William Raspberry, Maureen Dowd, Ellen Good(bad)man. Fortunately lunch had been mostly digested, so after getting over my shock, I went on to other sections. It's difficult not to be swayed either one way or the other, that blogosphere is the best thing since the printing press, or that most bloggers are just nitwits prattling about their lives and boring navel gazers.

Drum roll please for Spud's 2 cents:
I will have to gently disagree with Kevin's assessment of the "only way to get consistent readers is to post regularly." A formula for getting consistent readers:
1. Be able to write posts with something resembling standard English (or whatever language happens to be your native tongue) so that people can understand the thought you are trying to communicate.
2. Post on stuff that interests you.
3. Find others who are like-minded, and leave comments or e-mails to them and develop relationships.
4. Post when you want to on things that you have at least a semi-strong opinion or interest. Posting a couple times a week is helpful to maintain traffic. If that gets to be too much of a chore, then maybe blogging is not for you.

I have heard other bloggers comment that they were not extroverted or worked on the school paper in their teenage/college years, but find an outlet for their thoughts (and witty words) in the blogosphere. People who were never really thought of as funny get a chance to exercise their "humor bone" in their posts and enjoy the experience. I enjoy it as well, and it gives me the chance to practice my writing that a diary never could. For those who have been at it awhile, go back to your archives and see how your writing has (hopefully) progressed.

While a few "A-list" bloggers will get heavy traffic and lotsa link love, many of us stay near the banks of the raging Web/blogosphere stream, catching some tidbits now and then, passing them along, and enjoying the company of our neighbors. Bottom line: if you can make a few friends and every once in a while someone gives you a positive comment on a post, you're doing well. Anything more is gravy. Trying to join the big boys (and girls) in the fast waters can be precarious, and usually unsuccessful unless you are a fine writer with a good amount of time on your hands. Point #3 is the key - you can only get out of it what you put in, and as you develop relationships in the blogosphere you can be rewarded with good friendships.

Posted by MarcV, 9:39 AM link

July 11, 2003

Lynne Kiesling at The Knowledge Problem posts a link to a good article on the disinformation campaign of environmentalist concerning air quality.

Light posting today. I had an all morning training session on Lean Manufacturing (stayed awake through most of it too!), so I have to tie up loose ends the rest of the afternoon. RoadRunner was installed at home this morning, so maybe I'll try out posting with RR tonight. We went to a Greensboro Bats game last night, so maybe I could work up a post on that.

Posted by MarcV, 2:29 PM link

July 10, 2003

Dead Words

Jonah Goldberg over at NRO's Corner posted an article on the merits of a dead Constitution. I did not read the article, but I do agree with his opposition to a "living, breathing" Constitution, where judges can pick and choose how to interpret based on feelings and "modern" sensibilities, rather than sticking with a straight interpretation of the (dead) Constitution. Most of the hubbub has died down, but I found it interesting how legal questions are processed in the blogosphere, where a few A-list legal blogs massage the topic and then other legal blogs join in.

Randy Barnett (at the Corner) posted something on it last night, and I found an interesting parallel to another important "document".

The reason to respect the "dead" constitution is because it makes a good system for the living, not because the dead have any authority over us. It is good for us today (as it was good for the founders way back when) that present-day legislatures not be able to define the limits of their own powers, or that judges may not expand the powers of legislatures beyond what is specified in the "dead" Constitution. One of the ways to accomplish end (sic) this is to put their powers in writing and adopt a rule that the legislature or judges cannot change the writing on their own.

Substitute "Bible" for "dead Constitution" (as well as people for legislature/judges) and see how the above sounds.


Christians will obviously have more reasons to "respect" the Bible. One of the great strengths of the Bible is that it has been completed. Nobody will be adding to it. People may try to come up with "wacky" interpretations, sometimes in an attempt to wrongfully grab power or influence. At Bible study last night, the teacher emphasized that a non-believer reading a Bible is like someone reading someone else's mail. It just does not apply to them. The Constitution applies to everyone living in the US, whether or not they believe in this freedom experiment.

In short we should be committed to original meaning because we, right here right now, are committed to a written constitution. And we should be committed to a written constitution because it is best for the rights and well-being of the people right here, right now, that legislative powers be limited and judges not able to expand this power on their own authority.

Are you committed to the inerrant Word of God? When we try to interpret something outside of the intent of Scripture, we in effect try to expand our power on our own authority. It is a challenge of a lifetime to get behind the Word and understand what God's intentions are for living the life He has blessed us with.
[NOTE: Just saw Mark Byron's post on this, and he also likes the idea of a dead Constitution and less liberal interpretation of the Bible.]

Posted by MarcV, 12:26 PM link

July 09, 2003

I have showed a few people the article about Amelia the chicken's adoption, and much chuckling, guffawing and head shaking followed. If you just read one article from my multitudinous recommendations, click that one and enjoy.

Posted by MarcV, 2:13 PM link

A good article contributing to the "Blogburst" for freedom in Iran today can be found here. I pray that the leaders of Iran will not fall into the bloody trap of other regimes and impose their will by massacre, but that they seek to serve the people of their country by allowing all voices to be heard. [Also check out his post down the page - "Home-made Cruise Missile" - eerie stuff.]

Posted by MarcV, 2:07 PM link


I try to keep abreast of "tech stuff", but this caught me by surprise. A new memory device to replace DRAM chips (that's the volatile memory used by your computer) has been developed based on magnetism, rather than electrical charges. It's similar to the technology used for audio/video tapes and hard drives, but shrunk down to a nanometer-sized medium, so that a 128 MB MRAM chip has been developed.

Every time you start your computer, the operating system has to be loaded from the hard drive to your DRAM memory. As OS's get bigger, they need more time to load. You also have a lag time waiting for the hard drive to start spinning. With MRAM, the memory stays in place until you change it, so turning on your computer will eventually be like turning on the radio or a light.

"Consumer benefits could include faster startup times for computers, PDAs and cell phones, reduced data loss, shorter waits for data to load and increased battery run time," said Brian Way, CEO of memory supplier 4 All Memory.

IBM and Infineon have joined forces to develop the technology, with Altis Semiconductor being the joint venture between the two. They are supposed to be distributing chips to developers by the end of this year, and will probably be ready for production in 2004. For further explanation and a good background on MRAM's, try looking here. In my previous job I made the powder that goes into refrigerator magnets. They mentioned ferromagnetic materials being used for MRAM's, but did not get into specifics.

This may be the technology spark that could ignite another economic boom. Alot will depend on how IBM/Infineon handle the pricing/marketing as well as licensing the technology.

Posted by MarcV, 2:06 PM link

Looks like I'll be a RoadRunner by the end of the week. I wasn't too thrilled about a monthly $40 bill, but we (Lady Spud and I) decided to go the cell phone/cable internet route and get rid of the home phone. This way she gets a cell phone when she goes out and about, we get off of dial-up and onto much faster (unlimited) surfing, and we will only pay about $15 extra a month, as long as we keep our cell phone minutes below 700 for the month. If you asked people 10 years ago about giving up their home phone they would have thought your were crazy. How times have changed...

Posted by MarcV, 2:06 PM link

July 08, 2003

Fly High Free Bird yeah

For those who may have missed it, there is a happy ending for the story of Amelia, the stunt chicken that had been tied to 100 helium balloons and then got caught in some power lines. After her rescue she anxiously awaited for adoption. 25(!) applications were waded through, and a winner was announced: Peggy DiPrima of Concord CA.

``It was so cruel to send a chicken into the air with helium balloons. They can hardly jump 6 feet,'' DiPrima said by phone Friday after returning home with Amelia. DiPrima already coddles two hens and a rooster in her back yard with plenty of space and a fish pond. ``I spoil them. My husband, Al, accuses me of feeding the chickens better than us.'' The chickens get fresh corn for breakfast and mealworms for dinner to supplement their regular feed.

Only in America? The adoption alert was sounded by the San Francisco Gate (can't find original story on the Web), and Zap2It has a summary of it as well as referencing the show that inspired the stunt.

"This is a great chicken, a friendly chicken, a chicken that is ready for a relationship," says Kat Brown, deputy director of the shelter. Chicken rights activists have been quick to enter the fray, lambasting both the act of reckless poultry endangerment and the FOX show that inspired it.

"We are asking FOX to stop their cruelty or to confine it to those who can dish it back," says Karen Davis, president of the United Poultry Concerns animal-rights group. "FOX ought to be ashamed of themselves."

OK, let's all take a deep breath ... it's just a chicken! Ready for a relationship? Sheesh! What's even more amazing is the existence of United Poultry Concerns, and that someone would identify themself as a president of it. I have owned and slaughtered chickens, and they are very dumb animals. Their eyes are bigger than their brains, and they can find interesting ways to kill themselves given the opportunity.

I almost feel bad wasting the electrons on this subject, but I do find it humorous that people get bent out of shape over this. For an extended, sadly funny in-depth account of the adoption process/decision, check out this article:

"This chicken exemplifies what we're looking for," said Gene Harris, who was seeking the bird as a pet for students at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont. "We want our kids to persevere. This chicken can bring out those traits and teach sensitivity."

Kathy Feldman of Portola Valley brought photographs of her backyard chicken "spa" to support her application. She said her two chickens, Suzie and Ginger, had the run of a converted child's playhouse, complete with wallpaper, tiled floor, curtains and an electric clock.

Kinda makes you want to move out to California (not). Just incredible.

Posted by MarcV, 10:42 AM link

Tech Tues

- Interesting column from Bill Machrone over at PCMag. The first part gives details on LED's and some possible uses. If you have not heard about the potential for LED's to replace fluorescent and incandescent light sources, check it out.
The second part of the article highlights a different type of search engine, Gurunet. Rather than just give you links to a particular topic, like Google, it will give you details (definitions, maps, background information) and act as a virtual reference library. The free version just gives you a dictionary, thesaurus, spell checker and translations. For a one time charge of $40, they will give you the full version that includes over 100 TopicBooks. I'm having trouble connecting at work through my firewall/proxy, so I can't describe any more working details.
He also mentions a metasearch engine that he particularly likes, Copernic. I have loaded and tried the free version, but it would take some time to figure out the best way to utilize it. It does put another tool bar in your browser window. They have different versions at different prices, where paying them seems to give you more filtering options and summarizing capabilities. It's a busy screen, but if you need an agent to search all over the Web, Copernic may be worth a look-see.

Posted by MarcV, 10:41 AM link

July 07, 2003

Mark Byron gave a link for an article on The Passion, a movie that Mel Gibson has produced. The article seemed positive in the support that the movie will get from various Christian leaders.

"I'm not a preacher, and I'm not a pastor," Gibson said. "But I really feel my career was leading me to make this. The Holy Ghost was working through me on this film, and I was just directing traffic. I hope the film has the power to evangelize."

Gibson appeared on stage at NLC before the film's screening to address an audience of more than 800 ministers gathered for the annual Life Giving Leadership Conference. "It conveys, more accurately than any other film, who Jesus was," Haggard said.

FotF [Focus on the Family] President Don Hodel added: "I was very impressed. It's certainly the most powerful portrayal of the passion I've ever seen or heard about. The movie is historically and theologically accurate."

The movie stars James Caviezel as Christ. I saw him in Pay it Forward, and he did a good job on that. He's been in a few other films as well (The Count of Monte Cristo). Here's a report from a blogger who happened to see a preview clip at a Eucharist Conference in Atlanta:

Yesterday we were lucky enough to see a preview trailer for "The Passion," and we were completely blown away. The combination of sweeping cinematography and earth-shattering music call to mind films such as "Braveheart" and "Gladiator," while the depictions of Christ, Mary, Pilate, and other characters make them come alive like never before. Many images are unforgettable. An image of Mary stepping on the head of a serpent. A slow-motion shot of the high priests throwing a bag of silver to Judas, who drops them as his hands shake. Mary, reaching for Jesus as he falls under the weight of His cross, recollects his falling as a child in a flashback. Pilate washing his hands of Jesus' death. Jesus, tied to the cross before the nails are driven in, is dropped on the ground from several feet, kicking up a cloud of dust. And a flashback to the Last Supper, as Jesus holds the bread above his head as he consecrates it.

Posted by MarcV, 2:02 PM link

We're struggling here in the server room. All of the files transferred over OK to the new server (Dell) but we are having problems with network speeds from server to workstations. Anybody that can offer useful hints would be appreciated ... hello? The network guy I'm working with here has already posted a plea for help at the Dell site, so maybe something will shake out of that.

Until then, posting will be light until these problems are put to bed.

Posted by MarcV, 11:45 AM link

Take Two

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

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was nearly killed Friday by a falling stage beam in Philadelphia. She's the swing vote. If that beam had fallen an inch to the left, gay couples who smoke in public restaurants would never get into Michigan Law School.

President Bush played golf at Andrews Air Force Base Thursday. He cheerfully admits he would like to play more often. He misses the challenge, he misses the fun, and he misses the spirit of competition, but most of all, he misses the greens. [I know the feeling!]

Posted by MarcV, 11:43 AM link

July 04, 2003

Who's at work having fun now - show of hands? I'm having server switchin' fun, and trying to be useful to the network admin who's calling the shots here. Well, it is extra gravy in the paycheck, so I shouldnt' complain. Eatin' watermelon and hot dogs for lunch in my scenic backyard would be better than being stuck here, though.

Posted by MarcV, 11:24 AM link

Dean's Popularity Defies Expectations

He's now being "hailed" as the candidate with power of the Internet on his side since he organized a "big" rally of 200(!) in Iowa and has raised $1M from a marathon online fund-raising drive. Now that's getting your PayPal button hopping! The rally was organized with the help of Meetup.com.

Dean is so grateful to Meetup.com -- which has reached, so far, 53,000 grassroots voters for the candidate -- that he promotes the site on his Web page and credits it for much of the $7 million Democratic pace-setting, fund-raising bonanza for the second quarter that just ended.

Imagine that, the first real Internet-powered candidate - what would AlGore say? I wonder if Dean will be the sacrificial lamb that the Dems put up next year. His views are wacky enough to attract the far left, he seems to toe the party line on the hot issues (abortion, environment), doesn't mind trying to put Pres. Bush down, and he does not have the federal voting record to pin him down. As someone deep from the Northeast (Yankeeland), his appeal outside of his region should be marginal, at best. Maybe he'll be another Dukakis, stomped on by an incumbent president.

Posted by MarcV, 8:42 AM link

July 03, 2003

Quick hits from FoxNews:

Conservatives Balk at Medicare Reform Costs: You mean there's a chance this piece of bloat will not pass? Oh please please please please (fingers crossed, rabbit foot waved). "They say the drug benefits will cost too much and drive Medicare ever closer to insolvency. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the bill will cost $400 billion over 10 years." On the next paycheck you get, take a look at how much Medicare takes off the top. Double that amount if this stupid legislation gets passed.

Income Tax Gives Feds Open Checkbook: That is a right-on amen. "Sixty years ago this week, the federal government passed the Current Tax Payment Act (federal income tax withholding), arguably the most nefarious, misleading and ultimately destructive piece of legislation passed in the United States within the last century... it’s a big reason why so many of us today sit by idly and submit to an ever-expanding federal government leviathan." Here's a man after my own heart. What kind of chaos would government be in without their ability to skim everbody's paycheck? This was originally passed during wartime under the banner of patriotism, and even Donald Duck pitched the benefits of this new “convenience.”

According to research from both the Cato Institute and the accounting firm Ernst & Young, between the time withholding was passed in 1943 and the time it was fully implemented in 1945, six million Americans were added to the tax rolls. The federal government collected $43 billion in additional revenue. Between 1940 and 1950, federal revenues as percentage of the Gross Domestic Product more than doubled, and federal revenue per capita jumped 400 percent, the biggest 10-year jump for both categories in the 20th century.

And that’s exactly what was supposed to happen. Tax collection got easier. Government got richer. And we’ve been spending ever since.

The whole article is good (written by a blogger - Radley Balko), and it's something worth contemplating this Independence Day. When will the tax and spend madness end?

On a heavier note, Study: Fast Food Not to Blame
The business class is throwing their weight against spurious claims on fast food:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is taking a bite out of claims by lawyers targeting fast-food chains they say are responsible for the growing rate of obesity in the United States.

"No one, I think, has ever claimed that a cheeseburger is chemically addictive, right? I've never seen someone standing outside of a Wendy's shaking from withdrawal symptoms," said Todd Buchholz, a researcher with the chamber who conducted a new study of obesity in America

Yo dude, got spare change for a quarter-pounder? This subject has been pounded on at the TaterBed, but the linked article does have some more info in case you need more background on the fat police.

Posted by MarcV, 8:31 AM link

July 02, 2003

Religion of Piece

Just saw the report on a mosque blowing up in Iraq. While some blamed an American air strike (now who would that be?), it turns out that a bomb manufacturing class had some deadly answers to a pop quiz. They have also announced that no make-up tests will be given, and future classes will be held in the crater.

Looks like Islam for some of them is a religion of piece - a piece here, a piece there ...

Posted by MarcV, 12:49 PM link

The server went in OK last night, but we will be using the old one until Friday, when the transition to the new will actually occur. With the holiday, most everyone will be out, so that's the best time for a server change. Plus some extra gravy OT does not hurt either!

What did hurt yesterday was a certain person (not me!) accidentally pulling the power plug on our main server. Since it was not shut down gracefully, the volume dismounted and had to be regenerated. Along with that, we lost all of the shares, so various folders had to be reassigned their shares so that the workstations out on the plant floor could get the data they need. It ended up being alot of running around all morning until everyone was happy.

I do have a few big posts rumbling about the TaterBed(head), but with the blogosphere being so unattended, they may have to wait until next week.

Posted by MarcV, 11:41 AM link

Have Hope

Mr. Hanson over at NRO posts another must-read (hope this is not getting redundant). He helps to explain why we are helping the Iraqis to establish a democratic form of government, and some of the things that our military is dealing with. His intro is worth repeating.

What are we to make of the last four months? In 21 days at a cost of less than 200 fatalities, the United States military ended the 24-year reign of one of the most odious dictators in recent memory and freed their people. In response, here at home there were no mass victory parades in appreciation for our soldiers' proven bravery or public braggadocio about their own singular prowess. Some of our fighters, who in a moment of martial zeal had raised the flag of their country above the toppling statue of a horrific tyrant, were more likely chastised as undisciplined chauvinists rather than praised as enthusiastic patriots.

It's difficult fighting the urge to slap some of the "dissenters" when they start raving about a "lack of evidence" or just that Pres. Bush outright lied for his own nefarious schemes. I realize they are a minority of opinion, but the mass media outlets seem to give them way too much airtime. I hope that the US administration in Iraq will make it abundantly clear to the Iraqis that anyone harming someone from the US and still working for Saddam will be dealt with extreme prejudice.

Posted by MarcV, 11:33 AM link

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