30 December 2005

Peach Bowl Preparations

Tonight is the Peach Bowl, pitting (hah!) Miami against LSU. We are heading to a friend's to watch the game and J-III wanted to get into the act-

I predict a nice victory for the Canes. I am looking forward to next season a great deal, and think that we will see good things from them. Here is one more photo of the little guy-


Update - 12/31 - Did I write that? Oh well. Can't have 'em all. I'll always have 2001.

29 December 2005

2001 Canes - Best Ever!

ESPN has been running a series where they pit the 2005 USC Trojans against different former National Champs. I am in agreement with ESPN.com writer Dan Shanoff who thinks that 2004 USC is better than 2005 USC. Nonetheless, that is not the topic of the poll.

It is 2001 Miami's turn and I think there is no doubt that they are better than 2005 USC, or 2004 for that matter, or almost any other team. Shanoff agrees. Look at the stats, where they held opponents to an average of 9.6 points a game! Or how that team had 11 future first round draft picks, guys that would make immediate contributions to their NFL teams!

I love college football and love that it provides the opportunity for all these inane and meaningless polls. Come Jan 5th, a little part of me will die until the next season begins.

28 December 2005

Miracle Drug?

It's possible that we have had a miracle drug under our noses for years- Vitamin D.

While it seems like this kind of report comes out every few years, touting this food or that drug or vitamin, Vitamin E is such an inocuous thing to consume- Why not do it?

Classy Chirac

Jacques Chirac is the President of France, a position worthy of some respect...you would think.

Too bad this article makes him sound like a greasy politician. Not too surprising, given France's penchant for cronyism.

I just can't see President Bush acting this way.

23 December 2005

Christmas List

Something for your significant other: The Skycar.

Quick! Buy it before they regulate it!

22 December 2005

Rap Lover's Delight

I don't watch Saturday Night Live very much, but every once in a while they come out with something worth watching. This is an awesome rap, the subject of which I will keep secret until you have seen it.

As a former freestyler, I must give mad props.
By the way, my personal laptop with all of my SPOTD data, SPOTD list, website pages, and personal e-mails crashed earlier this week. As such I am a bit paralyzed. I will post here and at Right Wing Pundit whenever I can, and write back to e-mails sent to joe@spotd.net as they are received.

Honor the Fallen

Peggy Noonan is one of my favorite writers. Today her piece is especially powerful in that it focuses on the work of others. She mentions a special effort by the Rocky Mountain News and Time to look at how the families of the fallen are informed.

This is one of the most moving stories I have read, and the multimedia presentation prepared by the News is a must-see. Whatever your feelings about the Iraq War, you cannot deny the power of this reporting. This is one time the mainstream media gets it just right.

Please visit the site and watch the presentation. Semper Fi.

Workers oppressing...workers?

Socialism's failures are many, and one of socialism's brainchildren, the Union, is entering a season of unprecedented weakness. As auto manufacturers and airlines are forced to make significant changes, one Union has failed to read the signs of the times.

Blogger Jane Galt (a nice psuedonym alluding to Ayn Rand's John Galt) explains why the New York City Transit Worker's strike is hurting many people that are in worse shape than Union members.

You have to question any ideology that endorses such counterproductive tactics in willful ignorance of law and reason. I hope the city sticks to its guns and brings the union down.

20 December 2005

Kids and Sports

Something is wrong with the way parents handle sports. As I contemplate my son's future, I hope he has many opportunities to play sports and have fun. I think it is an essential part of youth, and I hope he is better at sports than I was. If he excelled at them, and enjoyed one or two in particular, so much the better. After looking at these articles, its a wonder that such is possible.

As a multi-part series, Denver's Rocky Mountain News looks at Kid's Sports today. It gives me an uncomfortable feeling to read some of what is said, particularly what is said by the parents. I was never an elite athlete, quite the opposite in fact, but I enjoyed playing and learning different sports and non-sports. Some of these kids will never get that opportunity and may have their parent's lack of perspective to blame. Read a few and see what I mean.

Morgan Freeman speaks the truth

I was impressed with remarks made by Morgan Freeman regarding racism and Black History Month:

You're going to relegate my history to a month? I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history.

As is Italian, Irish, and dare I say it, Cuban! The separation of history into various races and months and days is counterproductive to our society:

I am going to stop calling you a white man and I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.

Freeman is right to ask this. I hope each of us will make these terms a rare part of our vocabulary. American is American.

14 December 2005

Cuba and U.S. Isolation

Cuba is one of my pet issues. For some time I have been unsatisfied with our response to Fidel Castro and his communist regime. The embargo may have seemed appropriate in the 60's, but it has proved to be impotent. Castro se ha enriquecido (has enriched himself) at the expense of his people. While the Chinese citizenry have benefit from engagement with the U.S., the Cubans have been isolated. The isolation will continue with the news that (for the time being) Cuba will not be allowed to field a team for the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

The embargo has survived largely due to intense political pressure from the Cuban exile community. No president since its inception has dared to go against it in any meaningful way for fear of alienating one of Florida's major voting blocs. In particular, Republicans have fought to uphold it. On this I part ways.

As the son of a Cuban exile, I understand the pain and anger of fleeing one's home and being forced to leave almost all worldly possessions behind. Such was the case for my mother and her family. The embargo has not, and will not, reverse that. Castro will not move if he has not already. Through engagement we can change Cuba more effectively than through isolation. Almost 45 years of this policy has shown that something must change. Allowing the Cubans to field a team is one step in that direction, albeit a symbolic one, but something has to give.

New Trailers for Big Movies

I am a major movie buff, and some trailers for some heavily anticipated 2006 films have hit Apple's Quicktime site.

The Da Vinci Code is sure to be a major blockbuster event. It has an excellent cast (incl. Tom Hanks, Ian McKellen, Audrey Tatou, Alfred Molina, Paul Bettany, & Jean Reno) and a great director (Ron Howard). Somebody tell me where this thing can fail because I don't see it. The trailer is quite intense.

Poseiden is a remake of the film, The Poseiden Adventure. This is an old "Saw it on AMC" favorite of mine. This film also has a good cast, being one of those huge disaster movies, but these kinds of movies often are poorly received. The Perfect Storm, also directed by Wolfgang Petersen, while not a perfect movie, did have some exciting sequences, and this one seems sure to follow it in that regard. The tsunami looks pretty darn good.

13 December 2005

Bye Buddy! I hope you find your dad!

That is one of my favorite lines from the movie Elf. Now learn more about the amazing Narwhal, whose 9 foot tusk is a biological marvel. I saw some of these at the Aquarium in Vancouver, BC this May and they really are amazing creatures.

Really- read it.

New Camera does a lot with a little

I read about this new kind of digital camera from Sony and I found it very interesting. I am no expert when it comes to photography, digital or otherwise, but I love technology.

08 December 2005

The Crazy Cat Lady

I read a really fascinating article in Esquire that was profiled a controversial psychiatrist investigating the cause of schizophrenia. He thinks schizophrenia may come from cats! The article is not available for free on the web, so I'll try to sketch the rough details of the piece:

  • The doctor, Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, began this quest based in part on his rejection of Freud's theories (he has little regard for Freud). He did not buy the idea that mental disease is purely the result of some external stimulus. He thought it could be biological in origin.
  • He thinks the same organism or substance present in cat feces, t.gondii, which is thought to be dangerous to pregnant women and their children, may also be a contributor to mental disease. When placed in a petri dish, the growth of t.gondii was stopped by the addition of anti-psychotic drugs.
  • A statistically significant number of subjects in one small study owned house cats at some point in their life. Of course this only indicates correlation, not causation.
  • Shortly after the popularization of felines as pets, the number of people entering mental hospitals increased markedly. Again, correlation is not causation.
  • There is not definitive proof that t.gondii is a cause of mental disease, and Torrey doesn't know how it may lead to the onset of such disease. It is a theory which many reject soundly. Torrey feels strongly enough about it that he urged his daughter not to purchase a cat for her child.

So it is a theory, but a fascinating one. It may have some validity. For the record- I like cats and had a cat as a pet while a teenager.

01 December 2005

Good Reading

I have been reading an excellent book called Gates of Fire, by Steven Pressfield. It describes the efforts of a small number of Greek soldiers, led by 300 Spartans, at Thermopylae. There they battled the enormous army of the Persion king Xerxes.
It is a fictional account, but written with such authority that I can't help but take it as a true reckoning of Spartan and Greek life. There is content that may be offensive to some, but to lovers of war literature it is a must-read.
I first learned of this book by reading Michael Yon's blog. Gates of Fire is standard reading for one of the units he was with in Iraq, and it is easy to see why.
Some other books about war that I have enjoyed (all non-Fiction):
Band of Brothers
We Were Soldiers Once...and Young
Black Hawk Down
The first is my favorite, but each has power.

Disturbing Article

Abortion may be the most divisive and ugly debate in American politics. I can't think of any topic that brings tears and anger to the surface more rapidly across a broad cross-section of the populace.
Last Tuesday, the L.A. Times published an article about an Arkansas abortion doctor. I found it stunning in many ways. My friend J-Red at Right Wing Pundit has already done an excellent job of pointing out some of the more unnerving sections. I thought the topic deserved a little more comment.
Here are some facts on abortion (from the article):

The U.S. abortion rate has been dropping since 1990, but abortion remains one of the most common surgical procedures for women. A quarter of all pregnancies end in abortion. A third of all American women will have had an abortion by the age of 45, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights.

Just some thoughts:
1. It seems shameful that abortion would arise for a matter like this one:

His first patient of the day, Sarah, 23, says it never occurred to her to use birth control, though she has been sexually active for six years. When she became pregnant this fall, Sarah, who works in real estate, was in the midst of planning her wedding. "I don't think my dress would have fit with a baby in there," she says.

So she was too lazy to use birth control? Where is the sense of responsibility? I guess it is her body and none of my business.

2. Do men have any rights at all with regard to the children they conceive?

Amanda, a 20-year-old administrative assistant, says it's not the obstacles that surprise her — it's how normal and unashamed she feels as she prepares to end her first pregnancy."It's an everyday occurrence," she says as she waits for her 2:30 p.m. abortion. "It's not like this is a rare thing."Amanda hasn't told her ex-boyfriend that she's 15 weeks pregnant with his child. She hasn't told her parents, either, though she lives with them."I figured it was my responsibility," she says.She regrets having to pay $750 for the abortion, but Amanda says she does not doubt her decision. "It's not like it's illegal. It's not like I'm doing anything wrong," she says.

She never told her ex-boyfriend? It is definitely her choice whether or not to do so. It just doesn't sit right. Had she decided to keep the baby, it is likely that he would have to pay child support. There is a disconnect here.

Going back to the statistics I quoted above, the biggest problem I have as I write this is that abortion has become the way to compensate for a lack of personal responsibility. I found this article highly disturbing. Perhaps you will, perhaps you won't.

21 November 2005

I'm thankful I'm not a Democrat...

I'm not sure that I will have a chance to write anything before Lacy and I go to San Diego for Thanksgiving, so I wanted to link to this handy summary of the Bush administration's efforts to defend their handling of the decision to go to war, courtesy of Instapundit. I hope everyone has a great holiday. I know I will.

18 November 2005

Finish the War

The war in Iraq continues to be a contentious issue. Yesterday, a well-known Democratic Congressman urged the administration to pull the troops out of Iraq soon. His comments have been countered by Administration officials, the U.S. commander in Iraq, and some politicians. The reason his comments have received so much attention is because he is a decorated combat veteran. I respect his service to the country, but disagree with his remarks and think his reasoning for a pullout is flawed. Here is a letter written by U.S. Soldiers that deserves a reading alongside his comments.

17 November 2005

Reality Check

Christopher Hitchens, a well-known writer for online Slate Magazine, is not a Bush apologist. He is, at least in this instance, a fair-minded person examining the futility of the 'Bush Lied' rhetoric. Check out today's piece and understand the inanity of this far-left conspiracy talk.

16 November 2005

Our Ideas Are So Good They're Secret!

The following is an unedited excerpt from last Sunday's Meet the Press with Tim Russert (transcript here):

DR. DEAN: We have an alternative agenda. We made it very clear. We want a strong national security based on telling the truth to our people at home, our soldiers and our allies. We want jobs in America that'll stay in America, and we believe that renewable energy is one of the areas where we can do that. We want a health-care system that covers everybody, just like 36 other countries in the world. We want a strong public education system. And most of all, we want honesty back in government. I think that's a pretty good agenda.

MR. RUSSERT: But those are words that will appeal to people. But when you go behind them, for example, what is the Democratic position on Iraq? Should we withdraw troops now? What do the Democrats stand for?

DR. DEAN: Tim, first of all, we don't control the House, the Senate or the White House. We have plenty of time to show Americans what our agenda is and we will long before the '06 elections.

MR. RUSSERT: But there's no Democratic plan on Social Security. There's no Democratic plan on the deficit problem. There's no specifics. They say, "Well, we want a strong Social Security. We want to reduce the deficit. We want health care for everyone," but there's no plan how to pay for it.

DR. DEAN: Right now it's not our job to give out specifics. We have no control in the House. We have no control in the Senate. It's our job is to stop this administration, this corrupt and incompetent administration, from doing more damage to America. And that's what we're going to do. We're doing our best. Look at the trouble they're having putting together a budget. Why is that? Because there's still a few moderate Republicans left who don't think it's OK to cut school lunch programs, who don't think it's OK to do some of the appalling things that they're doing in their budget. I saw a show last night which showed a young African-American man in California at the UC of Davis who hoped to go to law school. The Republicans want to cut $14 billion out of higher education so this kid can't go to law school. We're going to do better than that, and together, America can do better than that.

MR. RUSSERT: But is it enough for you to say to the country, "Trust us, the other guy's no good. We'll do better, but we're not going to tell you specifically how we're going to deal with Iraq."

DR. DEAN: We will. When the time comes, we will do that.

MR. RUSSERT: When's the time going to come?

DR. DEAN: The time is fast-approaching. And I outlined the broad outlines of our agenda.
We're going to have specific plans in all of these areas.

MR. RUSSERT: This year?

DR. DEAN: In 2006.

Of course there was more to the interview than this, but read it. What is your impression? Mine is of a party that has no ideas, or at least ideas so poorly developed that they are unable to provide any specifics. Check especially the bold portion of Dean's remarks. Dean is saying that his job is to be obstructionist without offering alternatives. I don't mind different ideas. The problem is that the Democrats are all criticism and no ideas.

15 November 2005

Who are the Liars?

As if to punctuate yesterday's post, the Republican Party has produced an advertisement that effectively demonstrates the weakness of the Democrats on the issue of prewar intelligence. See it here.

14 November 2005

Glass Houses and All That...

Continuing last week's campaign to out the real Iraq War liars, the following articles make a good case for why President Bush's critics are guilty of much more than partisan politics as usual. I make the assertion that their lies and distortions ARE a disservice to the men and women in the Armed Forces and do undermine our mission there.
Michael Barone pulls together some quotes from President Bush's speech, as well as a defense of the President by John McCain. I don't understand how a fair-minded person can read this and maintain that President Bush lied. It is an untenable position to take in an age where a Google search exposes their fraud.
More effectively even, Norman Podhoretz, editor-at-large of Commentary, provides an absolutely comprehensive dismantling of Bush Lied! crowd. If you can read this, and still maintain that the President lied, there is no hope for you. I don't expect people to agree with the war. I don't expect people to agree with the war's execution. I DO expect people to learn the facts and be reasonable. I DO expect elected officials to tell the TRUTH!

11 November 2005

Terror's Personal Reach

The recent bombings in Amman, Jordan occurred a world away. Andrew Breitbart, who runs an excellent news site, lost a friend in the attacks, and didn't even realize it at first. The point is that terror is a danger to all of us and must be stopped. This is a tragic story of lives cut short. Terrorism is not cancer. It is preventable. We have to fight if it takes decades or longer.

Bush's Big Speech

I am writing from a Starbucks in Jacksonville, FL where I am on business. As such I was unable to listen to President Bush's speech, having to resort to reading the transcript. I think it is a very good speech, and he clearly calls out the liars in Congress for making false and misleading statements. We needed a speech like this. We need more motivation and clear declarations of fact. Iraq is important! That is a fact, and we can win.

10 November 2005

The Troubles in France.

More on France...or is it Moron France? Well, the French have problems. They are systemic and have nothing to do with whether French people are nice to Americans. I know more nice French people than not-nice ones (I don't know many in absolute terms) and I don't feel like blaming all French people for these riots. Nevertheless, these are systemic problems. John Vinocur, a writer for the International Herald Tribune, writes a scalding critique of the embedded hypocrisy of French society. Based on what has happened there, our political divides seem relatively minor by comparison. It can't help but bolster my already high degree of American superiority vis-a-vis the failure of the European Welfare state.

Deciding that I do in fact have a Blog

I have resisted using Blogger because I liked having the website with all the pictures and other content, but like many, I yearn for more. My ego desired greater exposure, and why not utilize whatever means available so that I could have yet another barely-read blog.
So here goes. I will continue to add to the website, duplicating entries for the time being on my http://www.spotd.net/truth.htm page.