Monday, January 31, 2005

Goodbye Australia... 

I'm in New Zealand now. It's striking how quiet and empty Auckland seems after having been in Melbourne and Sydney. I'm only planning on staying in Auckland for a few days and then I go south.

Melbourne was a pretty good city, but I didn't it like it nearly as much as Sydney. The Australian countryside as a whole wasn't that exciting. I ditched my rental car early to spend more time in Melbourne. Australia was good, but I didn't really regret leaving it. I had had enough.

A couple observations on Australia. Nobody pays attention to the pedestrian traffic signals. Seriously, they might as well not be there. People come up to the curb, look both ways, and walk if it's clear, regardless of the signal.

The other thing is that there was a surprising amount of graffiti. In places that otherwise seemed nice, you'd see graffiti. I saw graffiti in Katoomba, which is a two hour train ride from Sydney. I even saw graffiti on the seats of the train.

Oh well, nation of criminals, I guess....

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Blue Mountain Blues 

I'm in Katoomba in the Blue mountains right now. I understand it's supposed to be beautiful up here, although it's hard for me to say as it's been raining since yesterday morning. I woke up Sunday morning to loud thunder echoing through the tall buildings of downtown Sydney. On the train ride up, I could see some of the mountains and they looked nice, but visibility is down to about nothing right now.

The mountains are more mesas than real mountains, with the towns up at the top of the mesa, and sharp dropoffs with waterfalls and so forth. The hostel, No.14 budget accomodations, is at least very nice and cosy, and not surprisingly cheaper than downtown Sydney.

Sydney was a really nice city, with great buildings and clean streets and harbour views all around. I think it's actually my favorite city in the world at this point. However, I don't really like cities all that much and after 4 days I was glad to get out. Well, I should take the train back tomorrow and then I'm going to rent a car and take 5 days driving to Melbourne. Hopefully the weather will be better.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Mmmmm... Kangaroo meat... 

Leaving in the morning and I won't be back for 6 weeks. I will however, have web access and I will probably post the occasional update from the antipodes.

On Hollywood 

Breitbart: When you control the media, anyone can become the next John Ashcroft. Ask any of them to list their grievance with the man and the best you'll get is "The Patriot Act!" When asked to elaborate you'll get a blank stare. Ten years ago it was Newt Gingrich and the "Contract with America." Boo!

Actor Michael Moriarity left Hollywood for, of all places, Canada when his concerned brethren in the arts ignored Janet Reno's open calls for censorship. The hysteria comes from actors reading Democratic-party talking points like it's a must-read script.
from NRO

Friday Cat-blogging Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 13, 2005

More snow report... 

Went to Breckenridge today. Good, but not great. It turned out mostly sunny, which is good since it was forecast to snow all day. There was 3 inches yesterday, but it wasn't that fresh today. It tended to be crusty and heavy where it wasn't already packed down. Still, good enough conditions. I'm glad I went. That will be the last snowboarding I do until I get back from my trip in March. Gotta pack!

PC alert! PC alert! 

This is beyond parody.
The Fox television network said on Thursday it will provide its stations with TV spots that portray Muslims in a favorable way after it received complaints for featuring followers of Islam as terrorists on its hit television show "24."
Right. Because it's just absurd to suggest that muslims could ever be terrorists. The group bringing the complaint is the Council on American Islamic Relations(CAIR). And what is CAIR's record?
In reality, CAIR is something quite different. For starters, it's on the wrong side in the war on terrorism. One indication came in October 1998, when the group demanded the removal of a Los Angeles billboard describing Osama bin Laden as "the sworn enemy," finding this depiction "offensive to Muslims."

The same year, CAIR denied bin Laden's responsibility for the twin East African embassy bombings. As Hooper saw it, those explosions resulted from some vague "misunderstandings of both sides." (A New York court, however, blamed bin Laden's side alone for the embassy blasts.)

In 2001, CAIR denied his culpability for the Sept. 11 massacre, saying only that "if [note the "if"] Osama bin Laden was behind it, we condemn him by name." (Only in December was CAIR finally embarrassed into acknowledging his role.)

CAIR consistently defends other militant Islamic terrorists too. The conviction of the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing it deemed "a travesty of justice." The conviction of Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh who planned to blow up New York City landmarks, it called a "hate crime." The extradition order for suspected Hamas terrorist Mousa Abu Marook it labeled "anti-Islamic" and "anti-American."
Seems that muslims have bigger problems for their image than TV.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

A different breed.. 

Although the review pretends that the Bush service story was an anomaly, a temporary unhinging of CBS News' high journalistic standards, anybody who has worked with investigative reporters will recognize the fact-shaving, source-buttering, and ethics-skirting practiced by Mapes and her colleagues. Investigative reporters are a different breed of human being, possessed of the absolute conviction that their wild hunches are provable. They're well-practiced at selectively quoting people and documents, overstating their case, and shamelessly revising their previous statements at a moment's notice if they believe it will serve their project. And that's no slam. Investigative reporters don't construct their stories from press handouts; they burrow into deep, dark, and dangerous terrain to uncover truths. If they weren't as resourceful at compromising reality, we'd have no investigative reporting at all.
-Jack Shafer
and more...
Evidence of the reviewers' cluelessness comes when the panel assesses the CBS journalists for political bias and discovers none. I don't know that I've met more than four or five investigative journalists in my life who didn't wear their political biases on their flapping tongues. Almost to a one, they're suspicious (paranoid?) about corporate power, dubious about the intentions of governments, and convinced that at this very moment a secret meeting is being held somewhere in which a hateful conspiracy against the masses is being hatched. I won't provoke the investigative-journalist union by alleging that most of its members are Democrats or lefties, but aside from a few right-wing reporters sucking conservative teats inside the government, how many Republican investigative aces can you name?

Far from being a handicap, political bias appears to be a necessity for the investigative reporter. On one level, you've got to admire Mapes for rejecting all the mounds of evidence assembled by hundreds of other reporters who tried and failed to conclusively prove that Bush got a special service deal. For all Mapes' faults—and the panel documents her failings by the bushel—the panel still found that her colleagues "highly" regarded her. (One worries about the "lowly" regarded producers at CBS News.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

News Stories I don't click on 

Pundits seek reason for Aniston-Pitt split

Monday, January 10, 2005

"Food Porn" 

The plain old Thickburger (the Monster Thickburger's smaller predecessor) was termed "food porn" by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. CSPI gives this label to food it considers outlandishly unhealthy. I guess if the Thickburger qualifies as food porn, the Monster Thickburger is XXX hard-core food porn, with cheese bondage and underage buns and deviant bacon orgies.
From an article about a new Hardee's advertising campaign. I just found that bit really funny. Incidentally, CSPI people are tendentious jackasses, but they did provide the springboard for a good joke.

A "character" problem 

This is a laughably bad DNC booster memo disguised as a "news" story.
Imagine a Democratic presidential candidate and his allies assailing the character of the Republican nominee in ads and speeches every day for eight months.

Having trouble? That's because Democrats generally don't have the stomach or the discipline to do it. Often they don't even effectively fight back when under attack themselves.
Oh right, like they wouldn't do something like keep insinuating that their opponent had been "AWOL", while themselves refusing to even release their service record. They would never do that. They certainly wouldn't openly question their opposition's patriotism. Like Howard Dean, for example, he would never do that. And they would never go on and on about how their opponent "misled" the public. No, no, no. They would never do that. And it's not like they would get up before black audiences and imply that their opponents were trying to keep black people from voting. Hey, the NAACP certainly didn't run an ad in 2000 trying to suggest that George Bush was somehow responsible for the murder of a black man. They would never run an ad like that. We know this, because this article tells me that Democrats and their allies aren't comfortable attacking their opponents and would never do things like this.
Yet their opponents - George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush - managed to brand them as unpatriotic (Michael Dukakis, the "card-carrying" member of the ACLU), untruthful (Al Gore ), the "serial exaggerator") and unprincipled and weak (Kerry, the "flip-flopper" who couldn't be trusted to keep the nation safe). All are variations on a theme: These men have character flaws that disqualify them for the White House.
Ok, in the second and third of these cases, the accusations stuck because they were clearly true. In the first, what in the hell is she talking about? When did George Bush ever call Michael Dukakis "unpatriotic"? I challenge you to find me one example of him doing so. Unless the author believes that being a member of the ACLU is tantamount to being "unpatriotic", her statement is without support. (some)People dislike the ACLU because they believe it's members are naive and foolish, not unpatriotic. Of course, this all ties into my next point...
Another problem for Democrats: They can't shake the idea that people of integrity shouldn't have to, and don't need to, talk about their integrity. So when they come under attack, they often shrug it off and assume voters will, too.
Ok, so what planet was the author on when all the Democratic candidates were saying "don't question my patriotism" every other sentence? Which was especially odd since no one was doing so. The funny thing was this actually perfectly describes the way George Bush reacted to all the absurd Democratic attacks. When they kept making all their slimy insinuations about his service in the National Guard, he brushed it off, assuming people would see through it. They did. There's the trick: in order for the "ignore groundless attacks" strategy to work, the attacks actually have to be groundless.

John Kerry went on and on about his patriotism because that was an (non-existent)attack he could defend himself from. He never tried to defend himself from the charge of being an unprincipled flip-flopper because he couldn't. It was true.

The Democrats do have a character problem. They need to nominate a candidate who has some.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

"sophisticated" Europeans 

Today, during an afternoon conference that wrapped up my project of the last 18 months, one of my Euro colleagues tossed this little turd out to no one in particular:

" See, this is why George Bush is so dumb, theres a disaster in the world and he sends an Aircraft Carrier..."

After which he and many of my Euro colleagues laughed out loud.
Varifrank did not take this idiocy quietly.

I feel the need to highlight this because it fits with a pattern I have seen many times. It is the people who are the most ignorant who are the quickest to issue snide remarks about George Bush's intellect. They compensate for their own deficiencies by trying to focus everyone's attention on someone else. George Bush is an easy target; among a certain demographic it's a sort of password. You let everyone know that you're part of the club by repeating the mantra. Very few of them are in a position to even evaluate the validity of the belief they all hold. But it doesn't matter, they all smugly join in the shared vision that makes them feel better about themselves by belittling another person. Kind of sad, really.

This is too much 

In Northern California's Sierra Nevada and northern Nevada, winter storm warnings were in effect through Tuesday morning with as much as 5 feet of new snow possible on top of Saturday's accumulations of up to 4.5 feet.
Now they're just taunting me.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Acting against interest 

But whose interest?
A friend just wrote to ask why The New York Times keeps Paul Krugman as one of its op-ed columnists. We conservatives ought not to think like this. Nothing serves the conservative cause so well as rabid liberals such as Krugman. Twice a week, he shows the arrogance, condescension, fury, sarcasm, hatefulness, spitefulness, and imbalance of liberalism. If I, a conservative, got to pick a liberal to write a semiweekly column for The Times, I would pick Krugman. I honestly don’t think anyone who wasn’t already a liberal has ever been persuaded by him; and he puts the worst possible light on liberalism. With friends like Krugman and Michael Moore, liberals don’t need enemies.
-Keith Burgess-Jackson

I actually think Keith is mistaken, people like Krugman and Moore help the Republican party rather than conservatives as such. And the fact is that they do damage to the country as a whole. If I cared about my party first and foremost this would be fine. But I support my party because I think it helps my country, not vice-versa.

That so many liberals were willing to support someone like Moore, despite his clear antipathy to America, just because they thought it would aid their party says quite about about their priorities.

Star Wars Nerd 

Lego Star Destroyer!

Man, they didn't have cool stuff like this when I was a kid.

Beaver Creek Posted by Hello

Beaver Creek Posted by Hello

Beaver Creek Posted by Hello

Beaver Creek Posted by Hello

Beaver Creek, more Aspens Posted by Hello

Beaver Creek Posted by Hello

Beaver Creek Posted by Hello

Beaver Creek Posted by Hello

Beaver Creek Posted by Hello

Beaver Creek, "Loco" run... I think. Posted by Hello

Belated Friday Cat-blogging(technical problems) Posted by Hello

Friday, January 07, 2005

Snow, Snow! 

Went to Beaver Creek today. It was fantastic. Beautiful day, fresh snow, and the road was much better than it was two days ago. Pictures to follow, but I have to get to a concert.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Non-existent starving American 

Jane Galt links to this almost parodic Reuters article.

She notes that the numbers don't add up, but what I think she doesn't understand is that there are people who feel perfectly comfortable talking about fat people who "don't get enough to eat". I read an article a year or so ago that was very similar to this Reuters story, in which some guy, with no apparent irony, was quoted as saying something like "many of the people who aren't getting enough to eat are obese." At the time I thought, "You have to have a PHD to say something that incredibly stupid."

The problem with this study, as in the one I saw a while back, is that it measures the problem solely by very subjective measures, answers to questions such as "At some time in the past year, did you not know where your next meal was coming from?" The 300-lb guy who missed dinner once three months ago becomes proof of starvation in America.

The only useful measure would be a study of calories consumed. How many calories did you eat last week, and was it above or below the recommend daily allowance? If you wanted to really do it right, you could also study nutritional needs, vitamins, protein, etc. But of course, such a study would be more difficult to conduct. Useful studies usually are. My guess is that such a study would reveal what most of us suspect: the percentage of people in this country that are truly starving is close to zero.

Why do news organizations and non-profits try to trumpet ridiculous studies like this? Because there's a sentimental attachment to the image of the starving poor. The Dickensian waif. The man who has to steal a loaf of bread to feed his family. My friend has a brother-in-law who insists that there are many starving people in America. He has not a shred of evidence to support this, but he clings to it on faith. He does so because he needs to believe it. It's part of his worldview, and helps reinforce his sense of moral superiority over those who care less than he does.

The problem is that this stereotype is out of date. Poor people tend to be, if anything, disproportionately obese. People in the lower income brackets have many problems. They have problems with housing, health care, transportation. But food has become ridiculously cheap, and the problem of starvation has essentially been solved in America. There are a very few on the fringe who might be starving, and it is good that we have charities and government programs to take care of that last sliver. But any politician, or fundraiser, or academic who attempts to demonstrate his own deep compassion by referring, in this country, to those pitiful masses who go to bed hungry every night is a charlatan, and should be treated appropriately.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Fir tree Posted by Hello

My Snowboard Posted by Hello

Keystone Posted by Hello

Keystone Posted by Hello

Keystone Posted by Hello

Snow Report 

I went to Keystone today. Conditions were good, not great. Some fresh snow and everything was open. But moguls tended to be kinda.... firm. They certainly didn't get NINE FREAKIN' FEET OF SNOW

The drive was nerve-wracking. I managed to get all the way there without chains, but then I needed chains to get out of the #%#@$@ parking lot. I had to drive about two hundred yards with them and then took them off. A bit later I was approaching a yellow light.

I thought, "I should stop".
"Nope, that isn't gonna work."
"Guess I'm going to be running this one."

I was going to go again tomorrow, but I don't think I want to do that drive again so soon. I'll put some pictures up.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Cat-blogging Posted by Hello


Don't have much to say. And it's supposed to snow this week, so I probably won't be adding many posts this week, since I'll be busy snowboarding. Anyway, here's a cat picture.

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