Thursday, March 23, 2006

Philly sports update (for SYLG High Radio)

Wyatt's SYLG High School radio station has asked me to do a five-minute Philly sports update.
Here goes...
The Phillies: You know people don't care when the biggest story out of spring training is who's going to work with who on the broadcasts. Most of the controversy surrounds the excrementally bad Chris Wheeler, who is hardly Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas' best friend. Put it this way: When Wheeler's on, I turn it off. Watch out for Ryan Howard, though.
The Eagles: Who's smart now? T.O. goes out and gets MORE money out of Dallas than he would have from his Eagles' contract. The Eagles, who could have traded him and at least gotten a couple of marginal draft picks out of the deal, got squat. Jabar Gaffney -- who? Better get used to 6-10, fans. Here comes another one, thanks to the "dross standard" Birds.
The 76ers: Mediocrity, thy name is Sixers. The best this team can hope for is a quick exit in the first round of the playoffs. This means, of course, that they will have gotten there. It also means no lottery pick, which this year doesn't seem to matter.
The Flyers: This is not the year for a Cup, Wyatt. But then again, who's got a scary-good veteran goalie in the East besides New Jersey with Brodeur? Hasek isn't totally over the hill, but he's hurt and goalies don't come back 100 percent in a season when they have a groin injury. Emery, the backup, is good, but he's also a hothead with a history of blowups that make Roman Cechmanek (remember him?) look stable. Carolina? Gerber has almost no playoff experience. Rangers? Lundqvist has no playoff experience. Buffalo? Miller's a rookie, a good one, but a rookie. Tampa Bay? John Grahame? Sean Burke? Are you kiddin' me? Montreal? Aebischer isn't the answer and Huet's green. Atlanta? Lehtonen's a rookie. After Brodeur and (maybe) Hasek, the best goalies in the East are Luongo and DiPietro, and it will take a miracle for them to get into the playoffs. Me? I prefer Niittymaki. I think the rookie is one step above Esche on the goalie chart scale, which is...
Top: The guy who can steal a playoff series.
Second: The guy who can steal a game his team has no business winning.
Third: The guy who can a lot more often than not give his team a chance to win.
Fourth: The guy who plays as well as the team does in front of him.
Fifth: The guy who can't match his team's level consistently.
Sixth: The guy who belongs in the minors.
To me, right now, Niitty is definitely on the third step; more often than not, Esche is on the fourth step.
I don't think it all rests on the goalies, though. I think it rests on getting a lineup used to playing together in these last 12 games. They need, by my reckoning, 17 or 18 points to take the division from the Rangers, get home ice, and avoid Buffalo in the first round... but the reward might be Tampa Bay if it ever wakes up the way it does when the Flyers are the opponent.
If Carter and Umberger can sustain their current streak of playing well (despite Carter's penchant for dumb offensive-zone penalties) into the post-season, they'll have a second scoring line that they desperately need.
Villanova: Can you win a national championship with four guards and a small forward? They're trying. And they just might succeed. Here's hopin'.
That's the sports news. For SYLG High Radio, this is either orr.

It's Thurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrsday...

...and Steve the Pirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrate is hosting Carrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrnival of Comedy 47. Go visit. I'm there with Big Jim and Billy Saul. So's FIAR (or at least someone who claims to be FIAR) and a whole bunch of other folks.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The McBob-Hurok School of Self-Disintegration

(A far from precision misguided humour assignment)
One of the first things the Iraqi parliament will do once it is seated and functioning is to pass a law requiring all would-be suicide bombers to take a course on the subject.
Standing by and ready to begin the instruction are Big Jim McBob and Billy Saul Hurok. We'll let them tell you about their school.
Big Jim: Yeah, we're rarin' to go. We've got the right stuff to teach these young punks how to blow theirselves up.
Billy Saul: They'll blow theirselves up good.
Big Jim: Real good.
Billy Saul: We run a tight ship here at the school.
Big Jim: Yeah, ain't nobody graduates unless they can demonstrate to our satisfaction that they can blow theirselves up good.
Billy Saul: Real good.
Big Jim: In fact, we have pictures of our first graduates of the school. We took 'em at graduation ceremonies.
That there's Achmed. He was a brilliant student. Just brilliant. He blowed hisself up good.
Billy Saul: Real good, Big Jim. He took to it like it was natural to blow hisself up.
Big Jim: Now, this guy was a real tough nut to crack. Saddam didn't want to blow hisself up at first. He didn't know nuthin' about what he wanted to do.

Billy Saul: But that Saddam learned, eventually, and he wound up blowin' hisself up good.
Big Jim: Real good.
Billy Saul: At the school, we're proud of our 100 percent success rate. Every one of our students blows hisself -- or herself -- up good.
Big Jim: In fact, one of our best students was Sharia. She was a feisty little wisp of a thing.
Billy Saul: She was so skinny that a little breeze would have blown her away.
Big Jim: But we got her to blow herself up good.
Billy Saul: She blowed up real good.
Big Jim: Real good, indeed.
Billy Saul: We got a special blow-up room where they can practice blowing theirselves up good.
Big Jim: And ain't nobody graduates unless they've blowed themselves up right in that special blow-up room.
Billy Saul: So, mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be suicide bombers without taking our course at the school.
Big Jim: They'll blow up good.
Billy Saul: Real good.
Smarmy announcer: To reach the McBob-Hurok School for Self-Disintegration, call 1-666-BLOWEDUP. That's 1-666-BLOWEDUP.
Inspired by SCTV, Joe Flaherty and John Candy R.I.P.


Linked at The Liberal Wrong.

Spot the loonie

Welcome to a new occasional feature of the either orr blog program.
It's the very first edition of Spot the Loonie.
We will present pictures and ask you to Spot the Loonie.
Here is our first collection:

Which of these three is a loonie?
No. 1 most assuredly is a loonie. She is Celine Hervieux-Payette, a Canadian Senator. A Liberal, Miz Hervieux-Payette recently responded to a note from a Minnesota family who called the Canadian seal hunt "horrific":
What I find 'horrific' about your country is the daily killing of innocent people in Iraq, the execution of mainly black prisoners in U.S., the massive sale of guns to U.S. citizens every day, the destabilization of the whole world by the aggressive foreign policy of U.S. government, etc.
This is Carolyn Parrish redux, friends, with a better command of the language.
No. 2 certainly qualifies as a loonie. She is Debra LaFave. She had been a middle school teacher in Florida until she got caught providing sex-education lessons to one of her 14-year-old students. A judge just said she won't have to go to prison for her audacious behavior. Hmmmm... if we could have found a picture of the judge, he'd have been on the loonie list, too.
No. 3 is outrageous, eccentric, outspoken. But Don Cherry is not a loonie.
That concludes this edition of Spot the Loonie. More, no doubt, to come.
Hat tips to Stephen Taylor.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Vietnam and Iraq: The "parallels" are perpendicular

One of the favorite techniques of the anti-war far, far, far left is to categorize the war on terror in general and the fighting in Iraq specifically as "another Vietnam."
There are, in fact, some parallels. But they are mostly in the reaction to the fighting and in the reporting on the fighting.
When you examine some of the current arguments being proffered against our participation and the history of the situations, there's just no comparison between then and now.
1. We "snuck" into Vietnam; we did not "sneak" into Iraq.
American troops, few in number, were serving as "advisors" to the South Vietnamese government and its army from the time that France pulled out of its former colony in the mid-1950s. That number increased under President Kennedy and then exploded under President Johnson, all without significant pretext and debate.
On the other hand, President Bush let his intentions be known well in advance, setting specific conditions under which combat could be avoided. Saddam Insane (er, Hussein) chose not to respond to the opportunity to avoid warfare.
2. We're caught in a civil war in Iraq. Not. We were in the middle of one in 'Nam.
Vietnam was a civil war. It began even before the French cut and ran from Indochina. It had been going on for a decade before the U.S. presence accelerated dramatically in the mid-1960s. Each side had its own defined territories, its own government, etc. We surreptitiously entered the conflict on the side of the South against the communist North. The lines were drawn, the sides were chosen. You were one or you were the other.
Iraq is a much different setting. Yes, there are violent elements at work here. Many of them are not native Iraqis. In fact, there are more and more reports indicating that Iraqis are stepping up and taking on the outside agitators, especially outside of Baghdad. There are large segments of the three major groups -- the Shi'ites, the Sunnis and the Kurds -- who are working together to attempt to build a new Iraq. That wasn't 'Nam, friends.
3. Vietnam was a conflict based on the theoretical. Iraq is a conflict based on the real.
One of the great intellectual debates of the mid-20th century was the debate over the "domino theory." The theory was this: If one nation turns into a Communist Bloc country, its neighbors will be pressured to do likewise. The theory had its roots in what happened in eastern Europe following World War II. The Kennedy-Johnson administration's acceptance of that theory fueled the increased presence in Vietnam.
Anyone who doubts that the Islamofascists are not serious about their quest is displaying a stunning ignorance of the past 15 years... from the World Trade Center through Khobar Towers to 9-11. Was Saddam directly involved in 9-11? Probably not. Was he involved in funding al-Qaeda and other Islamofascist terror organizations? No doubt. The dribs and drabs of Saddam's papers seized during the invasion are clearly demonstrating that. And no doubt there's a lot more to come about WMDs, etc.
4. The fuel of manic faith was absent in the enemy in Vietnam. It is boldly present in the war on terror.
Communism, for all its religious trappings, was at its core a faith of, by and for the present. Communism was and is little more than a vehicle for an elite to acquire and maintain power and a sumptuous lifestyle at the expense of the rest of the people. Death is the end, not the beginning. People are expendable, not valued. It's all about the now.
For the Islamofascist, death -- especially death in "defense of the faith" -- is not an end, but a beginning of eternal life in opulence, 72 virgins and all that. These folks are geared toward forever, not just the moment. That fact alone makes them exponentially far more dangerous than the Communists... and guarantees that the battles will rage far, far longer.
There were some valid parallels to then and now. But they are on the home front, not on the battlefields.
1. The mainstream media's reportage doesn't cut it.
One of the biggest military victories of Vietnam was the Tet offensive. Strategically, it accomplished exactly what it set out to do -- drive a wedge between the North and its base of operations in the South. But by the time the MSM got done with it, the stunning military success was an abject failure and was a major contributor to the eventual loss of Vietnam.
In its obsession with body counts and its accentuation of the negative, the MSM is following the same template it used in Vietnam.
2. The anti-war crowd is still very much the same.
This is not a putdown of those for whom religious belief mandates opposition to the war, such as the Quakers.
But many of the same "hate-America-first" crowd which cut its teeth on Vietnam is back in tow, with younger sycophants often taking it even farther. They learned their lessons on Vietnam and have not grasped that the situation today is far different... and far more dangerous to their freedoms.
So, don't tell me that this is "another Vietnam."
It isn't.
For the sake of our future, it had better not be.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Wanna buy a town?

The California town that was first put up for sale on eBay a few years ago is back on the market...
Bridgeville (California): The first town ever auctioned on eBay soon will be back up for sale on the online auction site.
Nearly two years after he bought the tiny town of Bridgeville, Orange County financial adviser Bruce Krall said on Friday he plans to re-auction the Humboldt County hamlet on eBay next month.
"Due to family reasons, I'm pretty much tied to Southern California for the foreseeable future," Krall said. "We can't move up there. It only makes sense to pass it on to somebody else."
Krall said the auction will open April 4 with a minimum bid of $1.75 million—more than twice what he paid for the 83-acre property about 40 miles southwest of Eureka.
Bridgeville, a picturesque village with about 25 people on the Van Duzen River, sparked a bidding war in 2002 when it became the first town ever put up for sale on eBay.
The buyer, who won the auction with a $1.78 million bid, never came to see the property and the deal fell through. The property was eventually posted on traditional real estate listings, and Krall bought it for about $700,000 in May 2004.
Since then, Krall said he's invested "multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars" to restore old buildings, remove dilapidated structures and clean up mounds of garbage. He also found new tenants for the houses and received a conditional use permit for a riverfront resort.
"It's come full circle," Krall said. "Now it's been fixed up, and I think it's actually ready to be sold on eBay."

No, I don't have $1.75 million to spare.
But if I did, I would do a few things:
1. Ban all leftards. Liberals will be considered for residency; leftards would not.
2. Declare the town's official colors orange and black.
3. Sell the town in order to pay the taxes on it.

Rites of passage

There are certain events that stand as rites of passage, from one status in life to another.
For a teenager, one of those rites of passage is the acquisition of a learner's permit.
That's the piece of paper that says you can officially learn how to drive a car.
We at the homestead have reached that rite of passage.
Chris turned 16 earlier this month (part of the reason blogging's been inconsistent of late). In the great state of Pennsyltucky, 16 is the age at which you can acquire a learner's permit.
Now, times have changed here since the days when his old man (me) got his permit.
Back then, all you had to do was apply -- and voila! Your permit came in the mail. No testing, no nuthin'.
Today, in order to get your permit, you have to pass the "written" part of the old driver's exam.
Friday, Chris had the day off from school (teachers' in-service). So, bright (relatively bright, anyway) and early (by both our standards, especially the night after we pulled off a surprise party for him), we drove down to the Driver's Licensing Center, about 45 minutes from the homestead.
Of course, we waited. And waited. And waited. I think every Catholic high school kid in the area had the same idea. We saw a few of his classmates while waiting.
Then, when our turn came, we filled out the paperwork (when there's government, there's paperwork), and the examiner took him back to a computer terminal where he would take the "written" test.
You have 18 questions to get 15 correct in order to receive your permit in Pa. these days. When you get your 15th right, the computer shuts down and says "You Passed."
After about 15 minutes, Chris emerged from the cubicle and flipped a thumbs-up.
Five minutes, some more paperwork and $31 U.S. later, he had his permit.
The tough part didn't come until Saturday afternoon. That's when I took him out for the first time in my Scion... which is probably the car he'll use when he takes his licensing test in the fall (there's a mandatory 6-month wait now).
I drove him over to our church's parking lot, about 5 minutes away, and put him behind the wheel and told him to do simple stuff, just to get a feel for the car.
Later, I actually let him go out onto the road -- living out in the sticks helps, 'coz there's very little traffic -- and finally let him drive home.
We repeated the exercise Sunday afternoon and will no doubt do it many times more between now and the fall.
It's a curious sort of feeling on my part. He's still totally dependent upon me in this phase, but I'm responsible for giving him the skills toward independence.
It's another reminder that there is a cycle of life. I've done the early part; now it's my responsibility to help him through, so he can later do more on his own.
In a strange way, you want that dependence to continue, even though you know it really can't. But at the same time you want to help him get to the point that he can stand on his own, just as our parents helped us reach that point. It's what a parent does.
Bottom line: I'm getting old; he's growing up. That's an immutable law of nature.
But it still doesn't stop the increasing appearance of gray in what hair I have left.