30 April 2007

SPOTD E-mail #123

I'm going for brevity today. Lacy gave birth to a little girl last Thursday, Camilla Jane Lowry. We are calling her Millie, and she was 9lbs 14 oz and 22 inches long. Everything went well, and I've posted some pictures on the blog, so check out my new little lady.

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

Deben cultivarse en la infancia preferentemente los sentimientos de independencia y dignidad.

Phonetic with emphasis on bold syllable:
Day-bane cool-tee-var-say ain lah een-fahn-see-ah pray-fay-rain-tah-main-tay lows sain-tee-myen-toes day een-dee-pain-dain-see-ah ee deeg-nee-dahd.

The feelings of independence and dignity must be cultivated preferredly during childhood.

Good advice for any parent.

Blog Scroll down to check out the latest updates.

Link of the Day
No video today. I've reworked the SPOTD website in an effort to simplify. Hopefully it means I will update stuff about the kids more consistently. Check it out at http://www.spotd.net/ for more.

27 April 2007

200th Post (Baby Photos!)

For my 200th post on this blog I am pleased to show some pictures of my beautiful ladies, Lacy and Camilla (Millie). They're doing great and enjoying the quiet time while my mom watches Joseph. Without further ado:

That's one nice pink baby. By pink I refer to the fact that her brother was not pink when he was born due to a congenital heart defect. This little lady is trouble-free and we couldn't be happier.

26 April 2007

Good news!

My wife Lacy gave birth today to a healthy little baby girl, Camilla Jane Lowry. She is 9 lbs 14 oz (!!!), 22 inches long, and doing great. The labor was very intense, although not that long, and mother and baby are resting well. Not that I feel there is anything wrong with using pain prevention in labor, I must mention that Lacy's delivery was 100% natural. She is one tough woman.

No pics yet, perhaps tomorrow.

25 April 2007

No Cuba Libre

I haven't posted anything about Cuba in a long time, so I am glad to have this list, which I received from Maret Mitchell. It comes from the Cuba Transition Project, a program of the University of Miami. Enjoy:

What Cubans Can Not Do:

Cubans can not:
 Travel abroad without government permission.
 Change jobs without government permission.
 Change residence without government permission.
 Access the Internet without government permission (the Internet is closely monitored and controlled by the government. Only 1.67% of the population has access to the Internet).
 Send their children to a private or religious school (all schools are government run, there are no religious schools in Cuba).
 Watch independent or private radio or TV stations (all TV and radio stations are owned and run by the government). Cubans illegally watch/listen to foreign broadcasts.
 Read books, magazines or newspapers, unless approved/published by the government (all books, magazines and newspapers are published by the government).
 Receive publications from abroad or from visitors (punishable by jail terms under Law 88).
 Visit or stay in tourist hotels, restaurants, and resorts (these are off-limits to Cubans).
 Seek employment with foreign companies on the island, unless approved by the government.
 Run for public office unless approved by Cuba's Communist Party.
 Own businesses, unless they are very small and approved by the government and pay onerous taxes.
 Join an independent labor union (there is only one, government controlled labor union and no individual or collective bargaining is allowed; neither are strikes or protests).
 Retain a lawyer, unless approved by the government.
 Choose a physician or hospital. Both are assigned by the government.
 Refuse to participate in mass rallies and demonstrations organized by the Cuban Communist Party.
 Criticize the Castro regime or the Cuban Communist Party, the only party allowed in Cuba.

It is disconcerting to see such repression just 90 miles off U.S. shores.

24 April 2007

Miss America Strikes Back

She's more than a beauty queen. To give you the quick version. She is in her 80's and shot the tires out of the truck of some would-be thieves.

Not too shabby.

More on VT

Peggy Noonan is a great writer and her column about reaction to the VT tragedy is spot-on. An excerpt:

The last testament Cho sent to NBC seemed more clear evidence of mental illness--posing with his pistols, big tough gangsta gonna take you out. What is it evidence of when NBC News, a great pillar of the mainstream media, runs the videos and pictures on the nightly news? Brian Williams introduced the Cho collection as "what can only be described as a multi-media manifesto." But it can be described in other ways. "The self-serving meanderings of a crazy, self-indulgent narcissist" is one. But if you called it that, you couldn't lead with it. You couldn't rationalize the decision.
Such pictures are inspiring to the unstable. The minute you saw them, you probably thought what I did: We'll be seeing more of that.
The most common-sensical thing I heard said came Thursday morning, in a hospital interview with a student who'd been shot and was recovering. Garrett Evans said of the man who'd shot him, "An evil spirit was going through that boy, I could feel it." It was one of the few things I heard the past few days that sounded completely true. Whatever else Cho was, he was also a walking infestation of evil. Too bad nobody stopped him. Too bad nobody moved.

When she laments that "nobody moved," she isn't criticizing the response of the students being shot and killed, but those that may have prevented such an incident in its incubation stage. Read the whole thing for more.

23 April 2007

Things that make you go "Hmmmm"

As quoted by James Taranto in Friday's Best of the Web:

  • "I believe . . . that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything, as is shown by the extreme violence in Iraq this week."--Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, April 19, 2007
  • "Resolved, that this convention does explicitly declare, as the sense of the American people, that after four years of failure to restore the Union by the experiment of war, during which, under the pretence of military necessity, or war power higher than the Constitution, the Constitution itself has been disregarded in every part, and public liberty and private right alike trodden down, and the material prosperity of the country essentially impaired, justice, humanity, liberty, and the public welfare demand that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities, with a view to an ultimate convention of the States or other peaceable means, to the end that at the earliest practicable moment peace may be restored on the basis of the federal Union of the States."--1864 Democratic platform

21 April 2007


Since not everyone visits the links in the SPOTD e-mail, I thought I'd post this video of Joseph. He was playing with markers one day, and by chance or providence happened to end up looking like one of my favorite film protagonists and heroes. So I made a small tribute, and taught him a new word.

He will say "freedom" now whenever I pump my fist. It's great. My new word for him is "awesome," which sounds something like "awe-shom-ah."

20 April 2007

VT Massacre & Aftermath

This is a long post so I'll cut to the chase:

Gun Control is NOT the answer to the horrific events at Virginia Tech.

The shootings at VT do not stem from the wide availability of guns, but from an absence of social and moral restraint that is growing in our country. The Wall Street Journal republished an Op-Ed from 1993, in which they examined the shooting of an abortion doctor as evidence of

"how small the barrier has become that separates civilized from uncivilized behavior in American life. In our time, the United States suffers every day of the week because there are now so many marginalized people among us who don't understand the rules, who don't think that rules of personal or civil conduct apply to them, who have no notion of self-control."

It is a compelling piece, and I think it points more directly at the proliferation of these violent attacks.

I am concerned that this tragedy will bring calls for restrictions on the right to own firearms. James Q. Wilson is a professor of public policy at Pepperdine University. In an L.A. Times op-ed he argues against gun control:

Let's take a deep breath and think about what we know about gun violence and gun control. First: There is no doubt that the existence of some 260 million guns (of which perhaps 60 million are handguns) increases the death rate in this country. We do not have drive-by poisonings or drive-by knifings, but we do have drive-by shootings. Easy access to guns makes deadly violence more common in drug deals, gang fights and street corner brawls. However, there is no way to extinguish this supply of guns. It would be constitutionally suspect and politically impossible to confiscate hundreds of millions of weapons. You can declare a place gun-free, as Virginia Tech had done, and guns will still be brought there.

Fred Thompson, former Republican senator (TN), actor, and possible presidential aspirant has an excellent commentary on gun ownership as a crime deterrent:

The statistics are clear. Communities that recognize and grant Second Amendment rights to responsible adults have a significantly lower incidence of violent crime than those that do not. More to the point, incarcerated criminals tell criminologists that they consider local gun laws when they decide what sort of crime they will commit, and where they will do so.
Still, there are a lot of people who are just offended by the notion that people can carry guns around. They view everybody, or at least many of us, as potential murderers prevented only by the lack of a convenient weapon. Virginia Tech administrators overrode Virginia state law and threatened to expel or fire anybody who brings a weapon onto campus.
In recent years, however, armed Americans -- not on-duty police officers -- have successfully prevented a number of attempted mass murders. Evidence from Israel, where many teachers have weapons and have stopped serious terror attacks, has been documented. Supporting, though contrary, evidence from Great Britain, where strict gun controls have led to violent crime rates far higher than ours, is also common knowledge.

Continuing Thompson's line of thought is this Opinion Journal "Hot Topic" piece:

But over the past decade and a half, evidence of another sort has been accumulating. Violent-crime rates peaked in 1991, according to the Justice Department, and have fallen steeply since. Over the same period, gun-control laws in many states have been relaxed. Correlation does not equal causation, but it does make it difficult to argue that greater legal access to guns drives up levels of violent crime.
Whether concealed-carry laws and the like have held down crime rates remains a hotly debated subject. Certainly, more aggressive and effective policing, especially in big cities, has been a major force in driving down crime. One irony of this is that law-enforcement types have long been a major pro-gun-control force, even though it would seem that how their job is defined and performed has much more to do with crime levels than whether guns are available legally.

In fact, according to the preceding piece, recent court rulings may lead to a more open interpretation of citizen's 2nd Amendment rights, disallowing some of the more restrictive measures in places like Washington D.C. In an op-ed from Wednesday's Wall Street Journal, gun rights advocate David Kopel ended with the following statement:

The founder of the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, understood the harms resulting from the type of policy created at Virginia Tech. In his "Commonplace Book," Jefferson copied a passage from Cesare Beccaria, the founder of criminology, which was as true on Monday as it always has been:
"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."

In due time I plan to be among the armed, and I'll feel safer for it. Truthfully, I'm a little ashamed that I don't own a gun already.

18 April 2007

Heroism & Humor

Yesterday's Best of the Web highlighted this story of heroism, which occurred during the horrific attack at Virginia Tech University:

So let's just note one act of heroism amid the horror, as reported by the Jerusalem Post:

Professor Liviu Librescu, 76, threw himself in front of the shooter when the [murderer] attempted to enter his classroom. The Israeli mechanics and engineering lecturer was shot to death, "but all the students lived--because of him," Virginia Tech student Asael Arad--also an Israeli--told Army Radio.
Several of Librescu's other students sent e-mails to his wife, Marlena, telling of how he had blocked the gunman's way and saved their lives, said Librescu's son, Joe.
"My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee," Joe Librescu said in a telephone interview from his home outside of Tel Aviv. "Students started opening windows and jumping out."

Librescu was a Holocaust survivor who escaped communist Romania for Israel in 1978 and moved to Virginia in 1986. By coincidence, he was murdered on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

I find this account very moving. To have suffered through the Holocaust, and then give your life for others so freely is an event worthy of great praise and reflection.


On a lighter note, this is a very inventive music video by a band called Mute Math. I hadn't heard of them before one of their songs was sung by a contestant on American Idol.

Just out of curiousity, do you think it inappropriate that I put both these items in the same post? I don't mean to detract from the first part. I'd like to know what you think.

16 April 2007

SPOTD E-mail #122

A lot is changing here at SPOTD headquarters. In conjunction with the impending arrival of the SPOTDaughter I am going to redesign the Spanish Phrase of the Day website. All of my blogging, picture posting, and other internetry will take place at that site. I have already moved the SPOTD blog to this new address: http://blog.spotd.net/, although the old address will still get you to the right place. What does this mean for you? Maybe nothing, but maybe its the most important and exciting news that you've heard all day!

Speaking of important, I've made a new video of Joseph. One day he was playing with markers and by the end of it the mess evoked a certain iconic hero, so I went with that inspiration and made this cheesy salute. Check it out.

Today's phrase:
From Tolstoi

Todos quieren cambiar el mundo, pero nadie piensa en cambiarse así mismo.

Phonetic with emphasis on bold syllable:
Toe-dose kyay-rain cahm-bee-arr ell moon-doe, pay-rwo nah-dyay pyain-sah ain cahm-bee-arr-say ah-see mees-moe.

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.

I'm changing my website.

It's Miller Time
My old friend Joseph D. Miller is going to contribute to a blog written by some other friends, including SPOTD-reader and fellow conservative Maret Mitchell. His piece is called "Miller Monday," but I encourage you to check the whole thing out. I'm impressed with their rate of posting. Nothing like enthusiasm in the birth of a blog.

The Imus kerfuffle is largely ended, but this is a great piece by Kansas City Star sportswriter Jason Whitlock on what the mess told us, as well as what it didn't.

For the Gator fans, I liked this interview with the wife of Urban Meyer, the football coach.

Movie Stuff
Lacy and I watched Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles. It is an interesting story about a man trying to heal the rift between him and his dying son. It is a small story, in the sense that it is the kind of thing that happens every day, all over the world, and largely hidden from view. It has some beautiful images and shows the decency of normal people. I enjoyed it very much. It was directed by the man who made Hero and The House of Flying Daggers.
This is from Eric Snider's film review of Halle Berry's new film. I thought it was funny because it mirrored my first impression of that movie's title:
Why would you call your film "Perfect Stranger" if you didn't want people making jokes about Balki and Cousin Larry? What's next? "Growing Pain"? "Family Tie"? Any of those would probably be better (though not funnier) than the deadly serious thriller "Perfect Stranger," starring Halle Berry as Rowena, an investigative reporter who thinks a philandering advertising tycoon named Harrison Hill (Bruce Willis) may have killed her friend. To get more dirt, she takes a job as a temp at Hill's agency, cozying up to him so her tech-savvy colleague Miles (Giovanni Ribisi) -- who has a secret crush on Rowena -- can pry into Hill's e-mail accounts and look for clues. Directed by James Foley ("Glengarry Glen Ross," "The Chamber"), the film wants to be "Basic Instinct," but it has neither the trashiness nor the boldness to come even close. Most of its thrills are on the order of "Will the JPG get e-mailed in time?" and "Can Rowena juggle several different IM conversations at once?," resulting in a film that's polished and smooth without ever being interesting. And the finale? As Balki would say, don't be ree-dee-culous.

I can't think of a place or time where this would not be good news: there is serious activity with the purpose of created a Goonies Broadway musical. It could be awesome.

Oceans 13: It looks promising, and perhaps more focused than the 2nd installment.
A few years ago we saw a foreign film entitled Mostly Martha. It was an enjoyable movie, and I was pleased to hear they were making a US version. I hope it portrays the warmth of the original.
A lot, or all, of this film was shot in Gainesville. I don't know that it appeals to me as a film, but it sure looks like G-ville.

Just Click
It might only matter if you agree with the latest Miller Monday (see above)

This article frightens me. I don't think this is a good development culturally, and it makes me wary of the expectations that it places in the minds of men toward women.

Link of the Day
I think Indian cinema and media is very entertaining. It can also be downright weird. This video is no exception to either adjective. I give you...Indian Thriller:

13 April 2007

The Worldwide Leader?

I'm frustrated with ESPN these days. As a source of information, they can really only be taken as a secondary source. Their schedule is so packed with fluffy infotainment and screaming commentary that they have lost much of their credibility in my eyes.

Their new ombudswoman, Le Anne Shreiber, has written an interesting piece about her first months as a dedicated consumer of all things ESPN. She shares some of my concerns, finishing with a conciliatory tone toward the network.

One thing is certain, the E in ESPN sure doesn't stand for education.

11 April 2007

Media Troubles

The Mainstream Media, as the traditional media outlets of broadcast TV networks and old-line newspapers are sometimes known, is in deep trouble. The imbroglio surrounding Don Imus has overshadowed an interesting story involving Katie Couric:

Katie Couric did a one-minute commentary last week on the joys of getting her first library card, but the thoughts were less than original. The piece was substantially lifted from a Wall Street Journal column.
CBS News apologized for the plagiarized passages yesterday and said the commentary had been written by a network producer who has since been fired.

Blogger Ed Driscoll has a roundup of commentary surrounding the incident, including this from Ed Morrissey:

Plagiarism is the secondary scandal here. CBS has apologized for lifting the material, and the Journal has graciously accepted it. The primary scandal is the marketing of Couric as a journalist, attempting to boost her credibility and her likability with these articles written by staffers. They want to prop her up as a replacement for Rather, who despite his many faults actually worked as a reporter for many years before the anchor gig.

The critical issue for me is the devolution of Journalism. We should be skeptical of what the talking heads say, and certainly not admire them for anything but their ability to read the news.

09 April 2007

Beware the Milky Pirate

I have linked to this video before in a past edition of the SPOTD, but I saw it anew a few days ago, and it made me laugh AGAIN, so I decided to post it here. It is very weird, but I think very funny. Enjoy, and please comment on whether you think it is funny.

I just love that they came up with such a weird video. Apparently the kids live in Montana.

05 April 2007

Idol Thoughts

The New York Times published a ridiculous article by someone named Alessandra Stanley, a TV critic. She makes some points that left me incredulous. See it for yourself if you like.

She claims that the success of American Idol is due to the way that voters feel after the popular vote was insufficient to elect Al Gore in the 2000 election. My response to the author, sent via the Times' website, follows here:

Ms Stanley,
I thought your TV Watch article from the Wednesday edition of the Times to be filled with fallacious reasoning.
Idol received over 33 million votes this week. It is safe to assume that the actual number of individual voters is smaller, perhaps in the 10 million voter range, assuming somewhere around 3 votes per voter. Of that group, how many were eligible voters in 2000? Idol has a significant following among younger viewers. They are also the most likely to vote for their favorite, having been raised in a time, not of political disenfranchisement, but of technological empowerment. We can only guess at the number of voters that feel guilt over the events of the 2000 election, but based on ratings statistics and voter turnout for the weekly Idol contest, the number dealing with "displacement rituals" can't be all that significant. Furthermore, Idol is a British creation, spawned from their own successful series and not as an outgrowth of the repressed American voter. Does the success of Idol overseas reflect voter guilt in France? Russia? Denmark? Kazakhstan?More likely you column is an attempt by a partisan to inject politics into a matter that is apolitical. Your comparison to Dean's scream is also inept, as the scream was the result of his surprise 3rd place finish in the Iowa Caucus. It contributed to a demise already in progress.
This quote is troubling:
"Maybe the reason that more people didn’t turn out for the 2004 presidential race, despite the closeness of the tally four years earlier, is that they were still in denial and distracted by 'American Idol.'"
Why is that? The 2004 election saw more voters participate than any other in history. Are you blaming John Kerry's loss on "Idol distraction?" Perhaps there were simply more people that wanted George Bush to win, independant of reality TV's impact.
You mention that in American Idol, voters have the final word. In our system of government they do as well, within the bounds set by the US Constitution. Electors are sent by the states. The voters of those states, in elections run by those states and municipalities, determine which party's electors are sent. Using the electoral system does not remove the voter's say. It focuses on the collective intent of a state's voters, consistent with our Federalist system.
I apologize if I failed to realize that your column was satire. However, if your intentions were serious, it confirms a sad trend toward mediocrity that plagues this publication.

Not impressive.

03 April 2007

And they did

The Gators won (by 9 points- I was close) and I'm very happy with the outcome. Congrats to Fiesta Jon Eichelberger for winning it all in the SPOTD Tournament of Champions. He joins past winner Justin Palmer in that exalted group of B-ball pickers. Walmir DaCosta came in a very close second, losing based on Jon's better performance in the Sweet 16 round.

This year's Florida team is a perfect example of what is right about college sports. College sports will always mean more to me than pro sports because it is as much about glory and emotion as anything else. Cory Brewer, the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, left a chance for riches and risked another year. It paid off for him an his teammates. I agree with this writer who called them too tough to hate.

Their success is due in large measure to their coach, who said:

I sit up here very, very humbled because I think I was fortunate enough over the last two years to coach a group of guys that has to go down in history as one of the greatest teams of all time. I'm not saying they were the most talented. I'm not saying they were flawless. But when you talk about the word 'team' … they have got to go down and be considered, in my opinion, one of the best teams to ever play.

I have to agree. Although four of the five starters are juniors, they will likely declare their intention to go to the NBA. I don't blame them. I don't think anyone in Gainesville was all that surprised that they decided to stay another year.

There is much talk of Billy Donovan and the chance to go to coach at Kentucky. He doesn't seem inclined to go, and I really, really don't think he will, but he is sure to benefit financially from the Gator's success, and that is how it is done today. The bottom line is that Kentucky has nothing to offer him but tradition, something Florida has started establishing in impressive fashion.

As Joakim Noah said, "Money doesn't always buy happiness."

As a bonus, here is the link for a new Alanis Morrisette video. It's actually a cover of My Humps, sung by Fergie and the Black-Eyed Peas. I warn you that it may contain some objectionable content (just look at the song's title) but it provides a perfect examination of how inane that song really is. Just close your eyes and listen to the lyrics. Well done Alanis.

02 April 2007

Gators to Win

I've been busy with the move to our new home, so not much time for blogging. Today's post comes ahead of the big NCAA Basketball Championship, this time with Florida the favorite to beat Ohio State.

I see an easy victory for Florida. Here are some interesting reads to get prepped for the game:

Gators by 10.