30 June 2007

Awesome Video Saturday VII: Twisted Humor

There is a show on Comedy Central called Robot Chicken. They did some pretty good Star Wars parodies a few weeks ago (which can be found on YouTube). This is their reimagining of one of my favorite comic strips, Calvin & Hobbes:

From the Family Guy comes this bit of Jeopardy trivia:

28 June 2007

The Real "Sicko"

Michael Moore is an effective filmmaker and propagandist. His work is often as engaging as it is misleading, and his most recent film is no exception. Sicko claims to show the serious deficiencies in the U.S. health care system by looking at how we compare to nations like Canada, the U.K., and Cuba.

David Gratzer, a practicing physician licensed in the U.S. and Canada, debunks many of Moore's assertions about the superiority of state-provided healthcare:

Consider, for instance, Mr. Moore's claim that ERs don't overcrowd in Canada. A Canadian government study recently found that only about half of patients are treated in a timely manner, as defined by local medical and hospital associations. "The research merely confirms anecdotal reports of interminable waits," reported a national newspaper. While people in rural areas seem to fare better, Toronto patients receive care in four hours on average; one in 10 patients waits more than a dozen hours.
This problem hit close to home last year: A relative, living in Winnipeg, nearly died of a strangulated bowel while lying on a stretcher for five hours, writhing in pain. To get the needed ultrasound, he was sent by ambulance to another hospital.
In Britain, the Department of Health recently acknowledged that one in eight patients wait more than a year for surgery. Around the time Mr. Moore was putting the finishing touches on his documentary, a hospital in Sutton Coldfield announced its new money-saving linen policy: Housekeeping will no longer change the bed sheets between patients, just turn them over. France's system failed so spectacularly in the summer heat of 2003 that 13,000 people died, largely of dehydration. Hospitals stopped answering the phones and ambulance attendants told people to fend for themselves.
With such problems, it's not surprising that people are looking for alternatives. Private clinics--some operating in a "gray zone" of the law--are now opening in Canada at a rate of about one per week.

His use of Castro's Cuba to demonstrate a better system is the icing on the cake. Many people are not aware that for certain procedures Cuban citizens are required to provide many of their own materials. The system works very well for medical tourists but is atrocious for the average Cuban:

Dr. Julio Cesar Alfonso, 39, who practiced medicine in Cuba for four years before coming to Miami in 1999, describes the Cuban healthcare system as ''a disaster,'' from doctors reusing needles to draw blood from patients (and keeping a sharpening stone for the needles ) to the X-ray machine at Cardenas Regional Hospital, which hasn't been replaced since 1959.
''The treatment Moore and the rescue workers receive in the film was done specifically for them, because they knew it would make great propaganda,'' says Alfonso, a general practitioner in Little Havana. ``The medical centers in Cuba that treat tourists and government officials and VIPs are very different than the ones that treat the general population. If you're a Cuban citizen and need a prescription drug, most doctors either tell you to ask your relatives in the U.S. to ship it to you or recommend alternative herbal remedies. That's the degree of scarcity on the island.''

Michael Moore lives in a dream world. His ambition is to make it a reality. He has admitted that he would like to see the government handle all health care. Forget his dream- for us it would be a nightmare.

27 June 2007

The Man in the Hat

Indiana Jones IV is currently in production. If you want to see a photograph of the older Doctor Jones, go here. There is also a very brief video of the first day's action. It's cool to see Steven Spielberg and George Lucas working together again.

It's due in theatres next May!

26 June 2007

Adorable Children

I love these kids. This first video is of Millie making some really sweet noises last night. She had her 2 month (!) appointment and she is 13.5 lbs and 25 inches, growing very well.

Joseph still loves jumping, and always on the count of 3.

25 June 2007

Quick Hits

These are some great links that are worth your time. Unfortunately, I don't have much time to write so my part will be brief:

Nostalgia II

Entertainment Weekly does an occasional feature where they look at the record charts from this week in (insert year). This one caught my eye as they are looking at 1989. I was amazed to realize that it was 18 YEARS AGO, and thrilled to see that the top 10 included:

  • Bobby Brown
  • The Fine Young Cannibals (a personal fave)
  • Milli Vanilli
  • New Kids on the Block
  • Richard Marx

That is a pretty strong showing from a single top ten. Even better, they have YouTube videos of each song. If you were conscious in 1989 you might want to check it out.

23 June 2007

Awesome Video Saturday VI

I enjoyed this parody, a merger of The Office and 300. If you are interested in a fascinating historical novel based on the battle of Thermopylae, read Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield.

A pretty funny Star Wars video. Darth Vader being a jerk.

21 June 2007

Journalism and Bias


This is an assertion long held by conservatives. Bravo to MSNBC.com's Bill Dedman for demonstrating it quantifiably:

MSNBC.com identified 144 journalists who made political contributions from 2004 through the start of the 2008 campaign, according to the public records of the Federal Election Commission. Most of the newsroom checkbooks leaned to the left: 125 journalists gave to Democrats and liberal causes. Only 17 gave to Republicans. Two gave to both parties.

The list of journalists is found here, and if you go to the detail page some of their justifications are very interesting.

I don't have a problem with journalists making contributions to campaigns or voting in elections. I do think that such behavior should remain private and out of their reporting. This does not happen in many cases (I actually think it near-impossible) so I wish that members of the media would be direct about it. Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining.


By the way... According to Gallup Americans are pretty disappointed with President Bush. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you feel) they are even less satisfied with the Congress. Only 14% of Americans have a great deal or a lot of confidence in Congress. That's on par with HMO's.

I can't claim to be surprised by this. Instapundit has more.

20 June 2007

SPOTD E-mail #126

Life is good. We have received abundant and welcome rain today, which means my sprinkler bill will decline that much more. Always good news. I have been busy on the blog and will recap below. More additions to the website have and will come, focusing on photos of the kids and their happenings.

Today's phrase:
From Jose Martí, patron saint of the SPOTD.

La confianza en uno mismo y la rápida decisión son el preludio del éxito.

Phonetic with emphasis on bold syllable:
Lah cone-fee-ahn-sah enn oo-no mees-moe ee lah rah-pee-dah day-see-syown sown ell pray-loo-dee-oh dell ex-ee-toe.

Confidence in one self and in quick decision are the preludes to success.

Blog Recap
Some highlights since SPOTD #125:
-Embryonic Stem Cell Research may not be necessary.
-I still believe in the war in Iraq.
-Americans love immigrants while disliking illegal immigration.
-The car for Speed Racer (the movie) is looking just right.
-Hugo Chavez continues to clamp down, and "liberals" help him.
-Some great friends visited, I recommended a book, and Mr. Wizard died.
-Awesome Video Saturday remains Awesome.

This is the trailer for a new film starring Will Smith. The basic premise is that Will Smith is the only human being left (in the world?). The catch? Vampires or zombies or something like that. Sign me up!

5 Second Rule
It now appears that this rule can be liberalized substantially. I don't know if my mom is ready for this.

This is a fantastic story that would not have been so awesome had it ended differently. This guy was pushed by a semi at 50 mph, while in his wheelchair!

Cool Roof
This is a pretty cool, but seemingly obvious idea for reducing energy consumption. Despite my skepticism about Global Warming hysteria, I am in favor of reducing energy consumption when reasonable. This fits.

Link of the Day
Jet Packs. It does bring to mind a funny episode of Arrested Development.

All the benefits, none of the problems

It is a sad fact that many who preach tolerance in our society are some of its poorest examples. This is true in the debate over embryonic stem cells. I count myself among the Americans that are uncomfortable with the creation and/or destruction of human embryos for the purposes of research. I have been supportive of the Bush Administration's decision to restrict Federal spending of embryonic stem cells research. Despite the protests of some, the Federal Government has not outlawed such research.

Stem Cell Research is a relatively new science. I am not a scientist, but I know that embryonic research has not yet yielded miracle cures, and may not be any more fruitful than research done on adult stem cells.

The bitter debate over this issue is not a constructive one, so I was very happy to see this article on a new kind of therapy that bypasses the ethical dilemmas posed by embryonic stem cell research (via Instapundit):

Only a few days ago an article in the leading journal Nature brought amazing news. A Japanese team at Kyoto University has discovered how to reprogram skin cells so that they "dedifferentiate" into the equivalent of an embryonic stem cell. From this they can be morphed, theoretically, into any cell in the body, a property called pluripotency. It could be the Holy Grail of stem cell science: a technique that is both feasible and unambiguously ethical.
"Neither eggs nor embryos are necessary. I've never worked with either," says Shinya Yamanaka. The first instalment of his research appeared a year ago -- and was greeted with polite scepticism by his colleagues. At the time they were mesmerised by dreams of cloning embryos and dissecting them for their stem cells.

So far naysayers have nothing to back up their concerns except for vague possibilities. The poltical element makes this a hot issue. That's a shame.

Don't expect supporters of embryonic stem cell research to respond rationally, not in the short term, at least. The other day, Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel told the US House of Representatives as he voted to overturn the Bush policy: "It is ironic that every time we vote on this legislation, all of a sudden there is a major scientific discovery that basically says, 'You don't have to do [embryonic] stem cell research.' "
Connect the dots, Mr Emanuel. Maybe you don't have to.

Too bad Mr. Emanual and his ilk can't greet this development with cheer. It doesn't fit their paradigm. Fortunately it fits mine just right.

19 June 2007

In Defense of the War

I remain convinced that military intervention was the appropriate course in Iraq. It has become fashionable to back away from that belief, claiming deception (Clinton, Kerry, etc) or simply incompetence (Tenet). It is too easy to take that course and assume that we would have acted differently if we had "all the facts," nevermind that no one can tell us how we would have acquired them with our pre-Invasion modus operandi.

Mario Loyola provides some insight into Tenet's tell-all and the run-up to the war:

But intel is not evidence. Intel is by its nature fragmentary and inferential. The evidence we needed in Iraq was on the ground in Iraq, and Saddam controlled all of it. When Tenet said the case for war was a “slam dunk” he was jumping the barrier that should separate intel and policy. The intel was ambiguous. Intel is always ambiguous, especially when the question is as vast as that posed by Iraq. Because the presumption was already against Saddam — and rightly so — the intel community’s ambiguous answer left Cheney and many other people with no doubt that Saddam had WMDs — as a policy judgment based on history and the totality of the circumstances, of which intel was only a part. Policymakers do not have the luxury of coming to no firm conclusion simply because the intel comes to no firm conclusion. What has been consistently missing from this whole debate is an appreciation of the fact that, given Saddam’s history, we had to presume the worst. By 2002, the only thing that could assuage our fears about Saddam was transparency in his regime. Without transparency, we were facing a potential threat of unknown scope that — should it ever materialize — could cause much more damage than a punitive action would be able to remediate.

Yes, a mistake was made, but clarification as to the weakness of our intel may have only raised the stakes. He continues:

And that meant that it was Saddam — not the United States — who had the burden of proof as to the WMDs. It was the administration’s failure to understand this and make this clear which has led to the widespread — and absolutely false — perception that because the pre-war intelligence was mistaken, it was a mistake to invade Iraq. If policy should never “cook” the intel, neither should intel “cook” the policy. Even if the administration had known how unreliable the CIA’s intel really was, the problem facing it would have been exactly the same.

It's a good article, worth reading in its entirety. Now that we've provided some clarity to the decision facing the country before the war, we can look at what to do now. Dan Senor looks at the likely outcome of following the Withdrawl/Timeline strategy:

Consider Brent Scowcroft, dean of the Realist School, who openly opposed the war from the outset and was a lead skeptic of the president's democracy-building agenda. In a recent Financial Times interview, he succinctly summed up the implication of withdrawal: "The costs of staying are visible; the costs of getting out are almost never discussed. If we get out before Iraq is stable, the entire Middle East region might start to resemble Iraq today. Getting out is not a solution."
And here is retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former Centcom Commander and a vociferous critic of the what he sees as the administration's naive and one-sided policy in Iraq and the broader Middle East: "When we are in Iraq we are in many ways containing the violence. If we back off we give it more room to breathe, and it may metastasize in some way and become a regional problem. We don't have to be there at the same force level, but it is a five- to seven-year process to get any reasonable stability in Iraq."

...It would be one thing if only the architects of the Bush policy and their die-hard supporters opposed withdrawal. But four separate groups of knowledgeable critics--three of whom opposed going into Iraq--now describe the possible costs of withdrawal as very high.
If the Realists, neighboring Arab regimes, our intelligence community and some of the most knowledgeable reporters all say such a course could be disastrous, on what basis are the withdrawal advocates taking their position?

They are pursuing a political strategy that will lead to real-world trouble. Tony Blair addressed both the decision to invade and the need for our continued presence there.

It is so comforting to people to say there was an error made in the planning. Someone didn't spot what was going to go on. That is not what has created the problem. What has created the problem is that the people we are fighting have decided to give us a problem.
What they have decided is that if they can hang on long enough in Iraq, or in Afghanistan, or anywhere else, then we will lose the will.
If we end up saying that because these people are committing these acts of terrorism in Iraq or Afghanistan, that we shouldn't have done the removal of Saddam or the removal of the Taliban, then we are making a fundamental mistake about our own future, about security, about the values we should be defending in the world.

I always have to cut these posts short. There's just not enough time to deal with everything. Just read the articles if you are interested and know that I stand by the decision to invade and the need for us to stay. The reasons that the media and the left provide for each of those do not give the whole story. This video was created by a 15 year-old girl (story here). It is a sentimental tribute, but worth a look as I think it resonates with the real feeling here.

17 June 2007

A Happy Father's Day

Being a father is as rewarding as it gets. Today I held my little boy as he got ready for his nap. I tell him I love him and he puckers his lips to give me a kiss. I look at him and hope to see some of me there. I hope that he likes to hang out with me and wants to be like me.

Millie is so small that it is hard to have those kinds of thoughts. Mostly I'm just glad that she is healthy and I feel grateful that she is so beautiful and sweet. I am also glad that she has a big brother who will know that his duty is to watch out for his little sister.

I'm also grateful to have a wonderful wife who helps me to be a better dad. The kids at Church sang about their fathers today. About four words in I lost it. I have just what I want, and for now I get to hold them in my arms. Not a bad life.

16 June 2007

Awesome Video Saturday V

The Japanese are quite inventive with their game shows.

This last one has a gross ending, but still pretty funny. It's a parody of those McDonald's ads.

15 June 2007

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

Peggy Noonan is on form with today's column. She correctly focuses on American's inherent love for immigrants and concurrent deep distaste for illegal immigration. One of her key points is to focus on the need to assimilate immigrants.

Thomas Sowell has an interesting column dealing with one of the key components of the proposed major immigration legislation- a guest worker program. He looks at how similar programs have functioned in Europe, especially their failure to assimilate:

Another classic book — Our Culture: What’s Left of It by Theodore Dalrymple — found a similar pattern in France.
Long before the Muslim riots in Paris which shocked France and the world, Dalrymple pointed out how immigrants in France had become a major source of crime and violence, not only in Paris but in other parts of the country.
The housing projects immediately surrounding Paris have become concentrations of “several million” third-world immigrants — a population filled with “the hatred it bears for the other, ‘official’ society of France.”
They are not appeased by “the people who carelessly toss them the crumbs of Western prosperity.” What they want is what most people want — respect — and this cannot be given to them, least of all by the French welfare state.In order to feel self-respect, the young especially “needed to see themselves as warriors in a civil war, not mere ne’er-do-wells and criminals.” This anti-social vision has been supported and even celebrated by many intellectuals, much as both black and white intellectuals have celebrated the senseless brutality and cheap vulgarity of rap music in America.
What may be especially relevant to the situation in the United States is that the immigrant parents and grandparents of the violent youths came to France with a very different view.
They were glad to be in France, which for most was a big improvement over where they came from. “They were better Frenchmen than either their children or grandchildren,” Dalrymple noted.They would never have booed the French national anthem at a public event, as the later generations did — and as the American national anthem has been booed in Los Angeles.

We need people who believe that this is the best nation on the face of the Earth. More on this to come.

14 June 2007

Good Summer Reading

I just finished the novel Old Man's War by John Scalzi. It's Sci-Fi and I thought it was an excellent book. He's written some other books, so I thought I'd link to his site. Even the most casual fans of the genre will enjoy it.

13 June 2007

In Memoriam

Don Herbet, also known as "Mr. Wizard," has passed away. Here is a reminder of a part of my youth:

You'll be pleased to know that his show is now available on Nickelodeon DVD. This was a good TV show that might not have made it today. That's too bad.

12 June 2007

Good Times

I didn't blog much last week owing to the visit of our great friends Matt & Amber Nielsen. We had a great time with them.

Justin & I are not at all glad to see Matt.

They have a cute little boy named Carter, seen here getting cozy with Millie. Watch those hands boy!

We spent some time at the Springs. Joseph was having the time of his life.

We also took a little "mancation" to Universal Studios.

It was hot, but we had a good time, and although you can just barely see it in this photo, Justin managed to get some gum to travel from his tongue to the top of this dead-drop ride at Islands of Adventure.

Justin, Matt, and Jon made another go at the "Gallon Challenge." Perhaps there will be video to come.

We were sad to see them go but grateful for the time we had together. Almost felt like old times at BYU, except for the whole thing about being married and the kids, but that's a small thing, right? (Fall 2001 with Tom Proctor).

09 June 2007

Awesome Video Saturday IV

This week's feature video is a homemade video for the William Shatner version of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." The vocal performance is inspirational enough, but I do love what this person has come up with. A few weeks ago IRF's Miller Monday asked who was better, the Shat or the Hoff. I sided with the Shat, but future editions of AweVidSat will showcase the Hoff as well. For now, revel in the awesomeness of this song:

This video is weird, and the ending is a bit macabre, but it has some great moments:

04 June 2007

Chavez' Accomplices

It's pleasing when the friends of tyrants make themselves known. The Belmont Club has some information on some notables who are siding with the repressive actions of Hugo Chavez.

I don't recognize the people that are cited, but the title MP means Member of Parliament. Very nice of them to stand up and be counted.


I used to watch the show Speed Racer every morning when I was a little kid. I was very glad that they decided to make a film and even more glad that the most important prop has retained its iconic shape.

Read the USA Today story for a little more information.

02 June 2007

Awesome Video Saturday III

This is an old video, but still a pretty sweet one.

I've watched a little bit of the Fox Dance show and I love the breakers. Too bad they often can't do the other stuff that is required.

LeBron James turned in one epic performance during last Thursday's Eastern Conference Final. Some highlights:

01 June 2007

SPOTD E-mail #125

I've finally put some new pictures of the kids up on the SPOTD website. Some of them were taken by our friend Lisa Emmerich, who has a local photography business.

As always, check the blog.

Today's phrase:
Good words, from a German proverb:

El aburrimiento es consecuencia de la pereza.

Phonetic with emphasis on bold syllable:
Ell ah-buurr-ee-myen-toe ess cone-see-kwen-see-ah day lah pay-ray-zah.

Boredom is a consequence of laziness.

Blog Recap
I've been very active on the blog, more so than in any other month. See below:
-Bo Jackson
-Venezuela continues to become less free under Chavez
-A great memorial day article
-The introduction of Awesome Video Saturday
-America IS the best country on EARTH (American Exceptionalism)
-Cuban Independence (or lack)
-Warming Shwarming
-The new Transformers trailer
I've been busy. Have you been keeping up?

There are plans to renovate an area of Universal Studios Islands of Adventure Theme Park in order to create a Harry Potter-themed "land." Sounds like a great idea, and I'm all for visiting it, but read the comments on this blog and see some people who are REALLY excited, and in the nerdiest sense.

Loch Ness
Did you know that Loch Ness is over 750 ft deep at its mas profundo? That's deeper than the North Sea! The Loch's purported monster is in the news again as a man claims to have captured footage of Nessie in action.

I really like the look of this movie. I think it is a smart choice by Disney. Watch the trailer.

I don't know why this site surprised me. Anyone who has visited Ripley's Believe it or Not has seen his "mermaid." These are other bits of high-priced creative taxidermy. Animal-lovers beware.

Popular Mechanic has a really helpful article about the biggest myths about High-Def TV. I have been watching HD at home now for a few months and I love it.

Conversion at the Point of a Gun
This is a story about a man whose views on gun ownership changed when he was the victim of violent crime. It's especially interesting because he is a politician.
These are some helpful facts and insights from Michael Barone about how gun ownership affects a community.

Link of the Day
Flight of the Bumblebee on the accordion: